THEY are household names after halcyon playing careers. But can they coach, and can the Newcastle Jets afford their wage demands?
That is the quandary Jets owner Martin Lee will have to ponder after former Liverpool great Robbie Fowler and ex-Socceroo Harry Kewell expressed interest in the coaching position vacated when Mark Jones was sacked last Sunday.
Fowler’s coaching career is limited to a brief stint with Thai club Muangthong United and as an assistant at Milton Keyes Dons and Liverpool academy.
Kewell recently parted company with Watford after coaching their under-23s.
So both have limited experience as a head coach, but boast profiles that will be recognised around the world, which could perhaps be an advantage in attracting players, particularly foreign imports.
But both are also multi-millionaires and would be unlikely to apply for the Newcastle job – and relocate their families from England – just to gain experience and bolster their CVs.
The Herald understands that Fowler has indicated he would like to bring with him a coaching staff, which would potentially be an expensive exercise for Lee.
It is also understood that Lee has no intention of writing blank cheques, and that whatever is spent on coaching staff is likely to impact on the budget for a playing roster.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna confirmed on Big Sports Breakfast radio on Thursday that he was contacted by an agent who said “Kewell was interested in putting his name forward”.
"I think because of respect for who the guy [Kewell] is, you have to look at it," McKinna said. "But my views are that we need some experience and stability."
Liverpool legend Fowler, who had playing stints in Australia with North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory, contacted veteran The Australian soccer reporter Ray Gatt on Wednesday night, telling him by text message: “I would be interested if everything was right.”
Newcastle’s football-operations manager Joel Griffiths said the club “can't afford to get this wrong”.
The next coach will be the third under Lee in the space of seven months and the sixth in four years.
"People's jobs are on the line. Mine is and the same with Lawrie,’’ Griffiths told SBS. "With Harry, he'd bring plenty of headlines and he has a great playing pedigree. I don't know so much about his coaching pedigree."
Jones was sacked one season into a two-year deal after the Jets nosedived from finals contenders to wooden spooners by losing their final six games. He followed fellow first-year coaches Scott Miller and Phil Stubbins out the back door.
We can't afford to get this wrong.JOEL GRIFFITHS