Crook returns as Jets eye Asia

SETTLING IN: Ian Crook, left, talks to coach Gary van Egmond and striker Joel Griffiths at training yesterday.
SETTLING IN: Ian Crook, left, talks to coach Gary van Egmond and striker Joel Griffiths at training yesterday.

THE Newcastle Jets have taken the first step towards next year's Asian Champions League by appointing former coach Ian Crook as the club's high-performance manager.

Crook coached Newcastle United for three years in the old national league after taking over from Lee Sterrey in 2001.

The former Tottenham and Norwich City midfielder returns with an abundance of experience after more than 400 games as a professional player and almost a decade in top-flight coaching in Australia and Japan.

The new role will encompass a variety of responsibilities, but Crook's main focus will be on preparing the club's assault on the Asian Champions League next year and youth development.

Adelaide have made the final of this year's ACL, guaranteeing $1.34 million in prizemoney.

Crook has spent the past 18 months as assistant coach to former Sydney boss Pierre Littbarski at Japanese second-division club Avispa Fukuoka and has extensive knowledge of Asian football.

Remo Nogarotto remains the club's director of football.

Crook's three-year appointment follows new long-term deals for coach Gary van Egmond, assistant coach Mark Jones and striker Joel Griffiths.

It is also comes hot on the heels of the arrival of fringe Socceroo Mark Milligan a deal Crook helped arrange.

"Ian's appointment shows I am very serious about the Asian Champions League," Jets owner Con Constantine said.

"I have kept a close eye on the progress of Adelaide.

"I can assure you we will do everything in our power, under the guidelines of the FFA, to go to Asia and bring the Champions League trophy home.

"We have Mark Milligan here now, and hopefully there will be more players on board in the next two or three weeks."

Van Egmond was Crook's assistant in the Englishman's first stint at Newcastle, when they took the club to within a game of the grand final. It was the first time the city had made the finals.

Crook joined Sydney as an assistant coach to Littbarski for the inaugural A-League season, which they won, before following the German to Japan.

Though surprised to be back in Newcastle, Crook said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"We have seen what Adelaide have achieved in the Asian Champions League," Crook said.

"They were well prepared and knew who they were going to come up against.

"Gary and Mark have a tough enough job to prepare the team week in, week out for the A-League. It is difficult then to dive off and watch games, whether it be in Vietnam, Japan or here in Australia.

"I know the Asian market to an extent and would like to get to know it more. Hopefully that is an area I can help."

Crook will work under van Egmond and also assist youth coach Craig Deans.

"It is another quality person in the structure," van Egmond said.

"Crooky will help look primarily after the youth part of things, but he will also do some stuff with the first-team squad.

"His experience in Asia will be invaluable in the period coming up, not just overseas. If we are playing away at Perth and the next game may be against Central Coast, he will go and watch them while we play in Perth.

"There are a lot of things we can utilise him for. I think it is a great appointment."