BRANKO Culina has been entrusted with turning the Newcastle Jets into a super club.
The veteran coach agreed to terms on a contract extension yesterday that will keep him at the helm of the A-League club until March 2015.
It is the first major appointment by new owner Nathan Tinkler and a show of faith in the 53-year-old, who took over the reins from Gary van Egmond 18 months ago.
‘‘Branko is the coach that we want to establish the excellence we are seeking,’’ Jets executive chairman Ken Edwards said last night.
‘‘We are looking to build a dynasty and we will give him every opportunity to do that.’’
Tinkler took ownership of the club less than three weeks ago after Con Constantine had his A-League licence revoked.
The Hunter mining and thoroughbred racing magnate, whom BRW magazine estimated last week to be worth $610million, has big plans for the Jets.
‘‘Realistically, you need the coach in place to build everything else,’’ Edwards said.
‘‘Players are not going to commit to stay or join the club if you can’t tell them who the coach is. We might have only known Branko directly for a couple of months but we have spoken to people who have known him for a couple of decades.
‘‘We consider him to be one of the top coaches in Australia and we will resource him appropriately to ensure he has every opportunity to be successful.’’
Culina met Tinkler, Edwards and Tinkler’s chief financial controller, Troy Palmer, yesterday in Sydney, where the deal was struck.
The appointment is Culina’s longest since he began coaching 30 years ago.
‘‘My passion and energy is greater now than ever before, even when I was a real youngster,’’ he said.
‘‘I have never been involved with an organisation that has the potential that this one has.
‘‘They know where they are going, they know how to get there and equally important, they have vision and the financial might to be able to make sure that happens.‘‘It has been a huge turnaround for myself and the players. Three or four weeks ago, we didn’t know whether we were going to survive the next few days, let alone four years in my case, and hopefully similar for the players.
‘‘This will enable us to compete with the big clubs, the Melbourne Victory the Sydneys of this world. Now we can match them in every aspect, you can’t wish for more.’’
Culina is the first of a series of appointments due to be made over the next few weeks.
‘‘He will have the full suite of things that are required to be successful,’’ Edwards said.
‘‘Skills coaches, scouting structures, community development structures, updated medical programs ... we will start rolling out and implementing the new football department structure in the next few weeks.’’
However, the future of assistant coach Mark Jones, goalkeeping coach Clint Gosling, youth team coach and football operation manager Craig Deans beyond this season remains unclear.
‘‘The most important thing over the next couple of weeks is that we sit down with all the existing people, the coaching staff and playing staff, and see how they fit into the structure and what their role will be so they feel part of the vision,’’ Culina said.
‘‘There may be some who don’t figure but we will make sure we are honest and transparent with them and discuss it before we make any decisions.
‘‘This is not about one individual, it is about all of us working together.’’
Captain Michael Bridges said the announcement on Culina was another step forward.
‘‘The past few weeks show the seriousness and intent of the new owners and they are certainly looking to go forward for both the club and the community in a positive manner,” Bridges said.
‘‘The announcement today will offer some certainty of future for the boys and it’s a fantastic positive stride.’’
Champions two years ago, the Jets are in ninth place with just one win in eight games.
Edwards is in talks with a former English international about a 10-game guest stint and hopes to have an answer by Monday.
Tinkler demands success and has been through a number of horse trainers with his Patinack Farm racing empire.
Culina expects to be under similar pressure to perform.
‘‘There is no, ‘if you do this you stay on, if you don’t you move’. There is none of that,’’ he said.
‘‘I know what Nathan wants, I know what the club wants, I know what the people who support the club will want, once we are able to get the structures in place.
‘‘That is fair enough.
‘‘Let’s not kid ourselves. You do not invest all this money in something and then say, ‘Whatever happens happens.’
‘‘It will take a bit of time to put the structure in place and give it a chance to work but from day one we want to go for the very top.’’