Van Egmond continues to flounder with the Jets

Janek Speight Columnist

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    Gary van Egmond has either lost the plot or he’s actually a genius who will rise to the top of A-League management.

    The Newcastle Jets are reportedly looking to rid their roster of midfield general Kasey Wehrman and if true it is another disgraceful example of how not to handle a tricky situation.

    First it was the ugly scenes of the Culina(s) saga, though at least that decision came from upstairs.

    Now it is van Egmond’s turn and his man-management skills leave something to be desired.

    Wehrman is in hot water for comments made to a media outlet where he questioned the Jets’ tactical approach during away games.

    He said the side should “be more respectful” when travelling and “batten down the hatches”. For a side that has failed to win on the road in 2011 it is a fair comment.

    Van Egmond has tried to impose a high-tempo, pressing style game, starting attacks from the back line. He, like Branko Culina before him, has aspirations of being the “Barcelona” of Australia.

    Unfortunately the playing staff is insufficient and cannot possibly be expected to play such a disciplined style.

    For sides that lack a Xavi, Iniesta or Pique, it is wishful thinking.

    There are few teams in the world that can play with only one game plan in mind and the Jets are not one of them.

    Van Egmond seems to be working towards “the greater good”, yet it is becoming plainly obvious that all he achieving is a stubborn, delusional persona.

    It is true that he came in with an inherited squad, but he has to work with what he’s got.

    The sign of a good manager is one who can adapt to the situation in front of them, not one who refuses to formulate a Plan B, C or even D.

    Wehrman’s departure would not be the end of the world, he has not been anywhere near his best this season and he’s only getting older. If van Egmond prefers younger, more agile players, that’s fair enough.

    However Wehrman is probably the only player in the Jets squad capable of actually playing van Egmond’s preferred style.

    Perhaps his comments string from frustration at his teammates inability to come to grips with the tactics?

    Of all the players in the Jets squad, Wehrman and Michael Bridges are apparently the only two who have displayed a touch good enough to perform in tight spaces, and a willingness to give it a go.

    Kantarovski has, so far, been unable to recover from a terrible injury, Jobe Wheelhouse continues to deceive during his hundredth chance of playing professional football, Zadkovich – while great without the ball – is frustrating in attack, and Brockie and Griffiths are too hot and cold.

    Anyone who has watched and squirmed uncomfortably as Tiago, Topor-Stanley and Kennedy attempt to play out from the back should understand that van Egmond needs to adapt for at least this season.

    He can make changes in the winter, off-load the deadwood and start afresh.

    He can still impose his philosophy this season but without such dogmatism.

    His quote last month almost defies belief:

    ‘‘If we’ve got two different game plans, then it’s definitely not going to work, so we have to ensure that all parties are going in the right direction, and if that’s the case, then life becomes a lot more easy on the football pitch.’’

    It’s ok to have a dream, a philosophy to play “good” football, but to throw out the tactical book and choose a single-minded route is a recipe for disaster.

    Your team can still pull in the same direction while following different game plans for different opponents.

    As suggested already, a manager’s greatest trait is adapting to surrounding environments. And that includes playing to your players’ strengths.

    Janek Speight
    Janek Speight

    Janek is a freelance journalist based in Berlin. You can follow him on Twitter, @JanekSpeight