A-League battlers Newcastle will favour experience when hiring a replacement for sacked coach Mark Jones, the latest of the club’s first-year managers to be dumped after a single season.
Jones was dismissed effective immediately on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Jets’ 2-0 loss to Sydney FC confirmed them as wooden-spoon recipients following a terrible late-season collapse.
It cames six weeks after the team were genuine contenders for a first finals berth in seven years, before then going on to concede a record 19 unanswered goals.
They lost their six last games and went winless in their last 10 to ruin an initially encouraging campaign.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said the decision was made with Chinese owner Martin Lee on Sunday morning, before he made the tough phone call to Jones.
“He’s my mate and I gave him the job because I thought he was the best one for the job, then you have to tell him,” McKinna told AAP.
“He was kind of half expecting it after the last six weeks, but it’s still never a nice phone call.
“It was disappointing, but we had to do it.”
Jones joins Scott Miller as the second managerial casualty of Lee’s 10-month tenure.
The 50-year-old is also yet another first-year A-League coach to be axed just one campaign in, just like predecessors Miller (eighth, 2015-16) and Phil Stubbins (wooden spoon, 2014-15).
McKinna said that factor will be front and centre of the recruitment process.
“The last three coaches of the club have all been first-year coaches, so maybe we have to start looking for an experienced coach,” McKinna told AAP.
“Just looking at what happened during the season, is it better maybe going for more experience?”
CVs have already starting flooding in from local and oversees candidates, but McKinna said the club had no one specific in mind at this early stage.
A permanent replacement will be appointed before pre-season starts in late June.
Assistant coach Clayton Zane will oversee training before the players go on leave in early May.
Jones’ sacking comes after the recent signing of Melbourne Victory defender Daniel Georgievski, and amid rumours Central Coast striker Roy O’Donovan is set to join after Mariners coach Paul Okon confirmed the Irishman is on the way out.
“We haven’t spoken to him for the last couple of weeks out of respect because we were playing them last week,” McKinna said.
“But the talks we had a couple of weeks ago were promising, and now the season’s done we’ll (continue).”
The club have also spoken with off-contract Victory winger Fahid Ben-Khalfallah, but are still working out how best to balance their five visa spots.
Danish attacker Morten Nordstrand is leaving to return to Europe, however English midfielder Wayne Brown and Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko are both still on contract, while one import slot must go to a Chinese player.
O’Donovan’s signature would leave one available space.