Newcastle Jets searching for a new coach after sacking Mark Jones

MARK Jones feels no bitterness towards Jets owner Martin Lee or his former players – just disappointment that he won’t be at the helm of a strengthened Newcastle roster next season.

Lee wielded the axe on a coach for the second time in seven months on Sunday when he told Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna to sack Jones, halfway into a two-year deal.

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Jones’ fate was sealed when Newcastle were beaten 2-0 by minor premiers Sydney FC on Saturday, confirming they would collect the third wooden spoon in the A-League’s 11-year history.

Missed penalty sums up Newcastle’s season

Challenging for a finals berth mid-season, the Jets finished their campaign with a club-record six successive defeats, conceding an unprecedented 19 unanswered goals in the process.

Jones said, with the benefit of hindsight, he “wouldn’t do anything differently” and he had “no regrets” because he had given his first A-League head-coaching job his best shot.

But he was disappointed he would not get a chance to assemble a more competitive squad and push for a finals berth next season.

“For me, there’s not that much that needs to change, other than adding a bit of quality to the squad,’’ Jones told the Newcastle Herald.

“We dominated some of the best teams in the league, we played an entertaining brand of football, we played out from the back and we got into threatening positions, but too often we couldn’t convert our chances. If you give the squad an injection of quality and finesse, we’d be exactly where we want to be, in the top six.

“And that for me is the disappointing thing. Next season the owner will spend some money and the results will improve.

“I would love to have helped build a stronger team and coach it.

“If I’m the person who has to pay the price, so be it. But I don’t agree with that.’’

Jones said between rounds 10 and 19, he thought Newcastle were “excellent” and their six-game form slump “doesn’t mean I suddenly became a bad coach”.

Newcastle’s past three coaches, Phil Stubbins, Scott Miller and Jones, have all been sacked after one year.

Asked if the club needed to a long-term coach to provide stability, Jones replied: “I agree with that 100 per cent. That’s my No.1 disappointment – that I won’t get a chance to be that person.’’

He nonetheless said he was “grateful for the opportunity” Lee had offered him and had no qualms about the efforts of his players as their season spiralled from bad to worse, saying they “ran their arses off” against Sydney.

He said there were “a pile of reasons” that contributed to the team’s late-season slump, but all along Newcastle were competing against teams with bigger budgets and more dynamic strike forces. 

The Jets have failed to make the finals in their past seven seasons, and their three wooden spoons are the most by any club. Jones was Newcastle’s ninth coach in the 11 seasons since the A-League kicked off, and their fifth head tactician in the past four campaigns. 

Assistant coach Clayton Zane will step in as interim replacement until Lee makes a full-time appointment.

Jones is hoping to continue his career in football.

“We’ll wait and see what comes up,’’ he said.

“Everything happens for a reason, but it’s frustrating that I waited so long for an opportunity and then it was taken from me so quickly.’’ 

In a club statement, the Jets thanked Jones and “wish him well for the future”.

Newcastle won five of 27 games under Jones, and conceded 53 goals, the most in the competition.

Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration