Gary van Egmond joins Jets departure lounge

GARY van Egmond will no doubt make all the right noises when he eventually talks publicly about his decision to leave the Newcastle Jets.The departing head coach has too much class, and too affable a personality, to walk out with even a suggestion of sour grapes.But van Egmond would not be human if he was unaffected by the setbacks and frustrations he has experienced in the 16 months since he steered the club to a famous grand final victory and accepted the A-League coach-of-the-year award into the bargain.In the heady hours after the title decider, van Egmond spoke of his desire to build a dynasty and establish Newcastle as the A-League's pre-eminent club.But before the celebratory hangovers had even cleared, his team were disintegrating.Grand final heroes Mark Bridge, Stuart Musialik and Andrew Durante signed with rival clubs within a week of Newcastle soccer's greatest moment.Jade North and James Holland exited midway through a disastrous title defence to join clubs overseas. They were followed out the back door at season's end by Joel and Adam Griffiths and goalkeeper Ante Covic.Of van Egmond's grand final squad, only Matt Thompson, Adam D'Apuzzo, Tarek Elrich, Song Jin-hyung and Jason Hoffman remain.Each farewell must have been a body blow to van Egmond.In effect he was being asked to rebuild a competitive outfit after relinquishing a procession of key components.All the while he has been operating in an environment where, because of budgetary constraints, Newcastle are constantly being asked to punch above their weight.Jets owner Con Constantine gives the impression that players are expendable, especially if there is money to be made from a transfer fee.Not only does this affect the quality of teams Newcastle are able to put on the field, it affects the mentality and morale of their players.When Covic walked out in acrimonious circumstances, he left nobody in any doubt about his impressions of the club. "Off the field, I don't think the team, the players and coaching staff are given what's needed to go out and perform at the high level without any other concerns," he said.The head of the Professional Footballers Association, Brendan Schwab, backed Covic to the hilt by declaring that Newcastle's players had been "able to deliver a championship without the support for the players that is available at other A-League clubs".New signing Ljubo Milicevic addressed the same subject in even blunter terms when he accused Constantine of treating his players "like amateurs"."It shits us, of course it does," Milicevic said.The simmering discontent almost bubbled over recently when players considered an unprecedented boycott of Newcastle's final group match in the Asian Champions League.In among all this, van Egmond had a job to do.Handed the reins initially on an interim basis, when his predecessor, Nick Theodorakopoulos was sacked in October, 2006, he proved a revelation.Within 18 months, the man they call "Dutchy" had transformed Newcastle from cellar dwellers to champions.Not only were his Jets successful in terms of results, but they played an attractive, passing game that made them the envy of their A-League rivals and obviously earned van Egmond admirers in high places.Constantine also recognised the value of his talismanic coach, signing him to a new four-year deal midway through last season on an upgraded wage. Even after Newcastle finished the A-League season in last place, he stuck solid behind the coach."He doesn't deserve the blame at all," Constantine said at the time.Van Egmond partially erased the embarrassment of the wooden spoon by steering a new-look side into the final 16 of the ACL.But at some point in that campaign he was apparently contacted about new twin roles with the Australian Institute of Sport and national youth teams, to which he had been linked 12 months previously.The combined positions represent a career promotion and van Egmond, who has proven a master of identifying and nurturing young talent, should be ideally suited.Unlike coaching the Jets, there will be no turmoil. And so van Egmond has become the first coach to part company with Constantine of his own volition.

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