THE Jets appear poised to announce a home-grown coaching team featuring Mark Jones in the head role and Clayton Zane as his assistant.
Newcastle chief executive Lawrie McKinna said an announcement regarding a replacement for Scott Miller, sacked three weeks ago, could be forthcoming as early as Friday.
He denied a decision had been made but there is mounting speculation that Jones, currently in charge of Adelaide’s W-League and youth teams, will get the nod.
Zane, who has been interim coach since Miller’s unexpected departure, has impressed McKinna in a short space of time but did not apply for the top position.
If, as expected, the appointments of Jones and Zane are confirmed, they would become the first all-Novocastrian coaching combination in the Jets’ history.
Jones’s junior career kicked off with Toronto-Awaba before playing for Newcastle Rosebud, Sydney Croatia, Marconi and eventually Newcastle Breakers.
Zane played juniors with Cessnock and Adamstown, debuted for the Breakers as a teenager, represented the Socceroos 14 times and played five years abroad in Norway and Belgium. He was Newcastle’s caretaker coach in 12 games during the 2014-15 season, finishing with a respectable record of five wins, five losses and two draws.
Jones has never been a head coach of an A-League team but was assistant to Gary van Egmond during Newcastle’s grand final-winning season of 2007-08.
The 50-year-old has since worked in a variety of coaching roles at Central Coast Mariners, Perth Glory, Adelaide and in Asia.
Jones also worked under McKinna at Chinese club Chonqing Lifan, but the CEO insisted his recommendation to new owner Martin Lee would be a business decision, not based on personal relationships.
“Mark was my assistant coach in China, and as early as year one in the A-League he used to come down to the Mariners to watch training … I would never give anyone the job as a mate, because it would come back to me if it’s not successful,’’ McKinna said. “I’d be the one that would get the chop.
“I have to do what’s best for the club and the town.
“It has to be the right combination, because it’s not just the coach. We need an assistant coach as well.’’
There were reports in Adelaide on Thursday that Jones had informed players and staff he was leaving the club.
McKinna said the Jets would be in a position to announce their new tactician “hopefully some time tomorrow, but if not, early next week’’.
He said “preferably” the appointee would be on deck for Newcastle’s trial against Western Sydney Wanderers at Cessnock on Saturday, but only as an observer.
Zane will remain at the helm for his third consecutive hit-out of the pre-season.
“Clayton’s been great, and I want to make that clear … depending on who gets the job, Clayton might be his first choice as an assistant, which would be a great choice,’’ McKinna said.
McKinna said there had been “a lot of overseas applicants” for the positions but many were asking for exorbitant salaries.
“When you start talking about budgets, it just blows us out of the water,’’ he said.
He added that Newcastle “don’t want this job to be a door stop. It’s got to be somebody who’s going to be here long term and actually build something.’’