UPDATE May 9 – 8AM
The Newcastle Jets have appointed two-time A-League coach of the year Ernie Merrick as head coach for the next two years.
The affable Scotsman won two titles with Melbourne Victory in 2007 and 2009 and has coached the Hong Kong national team and, most recently, Wellington Phoenix for three years.
The 2014 Order of Australia recipient has managed 241 games in the A-League, the most in the competition’s history.
“At this point in the club’s development we believe it is crucial that someone with a deep understanding of the Hyundai A-League both on and off the pitch takes charge of our first team and football department,” Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said in a club statement.
“Ernie brings this in spades, and not only the first team but everyone associated with the club should benefit from his knowledge, experience and winning mentality in some way."
Merrick is in the United Kingdom visiting family but will move to Newcastle in the coming weeks.
MORE TO COME
More to come.
NEWCASTLE Jets are poised to appoint a new head coach, and Ernie Merrick is almost certain to be handed the job.
Merrick and former Premier League coach Steve Kean emerged as the top candidates after a final round of interviews, with the 64-year-old Scotsman understood to be the front-runner.
Kean is currently coach of Brunei DPMM in the Singapore professional league. Socceroos assistant Ante Milicic and former Liverpool great Robbie Fowler, who withdrew his application last week, were also on a shortlist.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna remained tight-lipped on Monday but anticipated making an announcement in “the next couple of days”.
“There’s a preferred candidate but we still have a couple of details to finalise,” McKinna told the Herald.
The Jets have turned over three coaches in three years. Phil Stubbins, Scott Miller and Mark Jones had not held a senior position before taking control of the Jets.
Merrick is the most seasoned mentor in the A-League. Foundation coach at Melbourne Victory, he spent six seasons in charge and won championships in 2005-06 and 2008-09. His second title was part of a treble – preseason cup, premiership and championship.
He departed Victory at the end of 2010-11, and after a stint in Hong Kong returned to the A-League with Wellington Phoenix in 2013-14. He was in his fourth season in the Kiwi capital when he resigned in December.
Merrick, one of three coaches alongside Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold to win two titles, recruited Brazilian Fred and the mercurial Carlos Hernandez to the A-League.
The Jets, who had recruited Victory fullback Daniel Georgievski and Central Coast striker Roy O’Donovan before Jones was sacked, have 10 players off contract.
Early in the search for a coach, McKinna told the Newcastle Herald that local knowledge would be an advantage.
"We've got a lot of boys coming off contract, so whoever comes in, it's a benefit to them to know the players, and obviously know the Australian market, because obviously it's Australian players who are going to come in," McKinna said a fortnight ago. "A local guy with local experience will have that going for them.”
McKinna said the coaches that they had been in talks with were sent dvd’s of Jets’ games.
“Once we announce the coach, we will be jumping,” he said regarding the future of the players off contract.
Georgievski will join the Jets fresh from being awarded the Joe Marston Medal for the player of the grand final. In a rarity, the Victory defender was given the gong despite being on the losing team.
“When we announced Daniel’s signature it slipped under the radar a wee bit,” McKinna said. “I thought he was outstanding in the grand final. He showed tenacity and leadership. Getting him and Roy O’Donovan is very positive. They set a standard for everyone else to follow. We need more players with that drive on the park.”
The Jets squad started annual leave on Friday and return for pre-season training on June 26.