McKinna hedging Merrick bets with his own future on the line

The new Newcastle Jets coach will be decided this week with favourite Ernie Merrick facing serious competition from Socceroos assistant Ante Milicic and an unknown overseas contender.

Ante Milicic, Ernie Merrick

Ante Milicic (left) and Ernie Merrick (right) are the final names on the Newcastle Jets shortlist Source: Getty Images

Interviews will be conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, with CEO Lawrie McKinna hoping to inform the players by Friday, when they depart for an end-of-season break, who the new boss will be.

While McKinna strongly favours ex-Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix mentor Merrick, it's understood that the club's Chinese chief Martin Lee has yet to be totally convinced that the Scottish-born 64-year-old is the right man to rekindle the fortunes of the A-League wooden-spooners.

Advertisement


Rookie contenders Harry Kewell and Robbie Fowler have been scrubbed from the short-list, due to lack of experience.

That leaves Merrick as McKinna's hand-picked panacea for a club which cannot afford another failed appointment in the wake of the failures of Scott Miller and his successor Mark Jones.



While Lee retains faith in McKinna, to this point, it's been acknowledged that in the wake of Jones's unsuccessful tenure, the CEO cannot afford to preside over another unsuccessful appointment.

Question marks hang over Merrick, who while a two-time A-League winner with a nascent Victory in the early years of the competition, resigned just eight games into his third season with Wellington after a dismal start to the 2016-2017 campaign.

Milicic, a former Jets player, has been involved with the national team since 2014 and the Jets would need to pay compensation to FFA, to whom he contracted until mid-2018.



The conundrum for McKinna could be to gamble all on Merrick - thus aligning his own future to his chosen one's success or failure - or appoint a more 'progressive' candidate and survive the collateral damage should that go south.

With 10 players off contract and decisions pending on the roster for next season, the club are keen to make a decision to give the new man time to shape his squad for next season.


Share
Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
2 min read
Published 1 May 2017 at 11:51am
By Dave Lewis