Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna will have to choose a new head coach on his own over the course of a few days as the clock ticks down to the start of the A-League.
McKinna told the Herald that the decision on a replacement for sacked coach Scott Miller would be his alone as chairman Martin Lee and the Ledman Group board in China would not be familiar with the candidates.
He said he had closed off applications after receiving more than 60 via email and would whittle these down to a shortlist of about six before starting to conduct phone interviews on Thursday night.
McKinna wants someone in place by the end of next week and is planning a behind-closed-doors trial against A-League opposition in late September to give the new coach an extra game with the squad before the season kicks off.
He conceded he did not have a lot of time to make an important decision but said he would accept responsibility whatever the outcome.
“I’ll make the decision. Obviously I’ll put it to Martin,” McKinna said. “If I get it wrong, it’s on me, nobody else, but Martin’s entrusted me to make that decision.”
He said reports suggesting he had been looking closely at the English FA’s national coach educator, Jimmy Gilligan, were wide of the mark.
Miller’s exit has been an unexpected disruption at the club four weeks before the season, but it has put a spring in the step of the three players who had been on the outer with the former coach.
McKinna said the arrival of a new coach would give Andy Brennan, Radovan Pavicevic and Mitch Cooper a fresh chance to prove themselves.
The three had been training and playing practice games with the youth squad, but Brennan and Pavicevic featured off the bench in the first team’s trial against Edgeworth last weekend. Cooper would have played but was recovering from illness.
“They’re just back in the mix now,” McKinna said.
“This is a fresh start for these guys. Obviously every coach that comes in has got different opinions of players. Scott had made it clear he’d like to move those boys on if possible, but at this time of year a new coach comes in and the squad’s the squad.
“You know the manager’s plans. It must be hard turning up for work each day knowing you’re not going to be used, but now they’re part of the squad. In football, when one door closes, another one opens.”
McKinna said youth team striker Kristian Brymora had edged ahead in the race to earn the third and final under-20 contract with the Jets.
He said Brymora would join a 16-man squad heading to Ballarat for Sunday’s trial against Melbourne City, although it is understood he received a knock at training on Wednesday and could be in doubt.
The Jets face Western Sydney Wanderers in their final public trial on September 24 at Cessnock.
Meanwhile, Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko faces a race against time to be fit for the round-one game against Adelaide on October 9 after suffering a calf injury in the first match of the club’s recent China tour.
It is understood his recovery could take another two or three weeks.