Stubbins warns Jets after latest act of player power

Former Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins believes the crisis club's Chinese hierarchy must give whoever takes the coaching reins time to change the culture of the club after the latest episode of player power claimed another victim on the Hunter.

Newcastle Jets Phil Stubbins

Former Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins Source: AAP

In 2014 it was Gary van Egmond, who led the Jets to the A-League title in 2008, who was forced out by perceived player subterfuge, and then it was Stubbins himself who faced a mutiny under Nathan Tinker's ruinous reign before being moved on when Football Federation Australia took over the franchise.

Sacked assistant coach Luciano Trani has become the latest to be ousted by a dressing-room revolt, led by senior players, after last week's axing of head coach Scott Miller.


The removal of Miller after his row with Trani over the latter's training methods led to players refusing to train under Trani, who was immediately shown the door as the club's new owners, the Ledman Group, acceded to the demands of their employees.

"Whoever comes in needs a reasonable amount of time to make decisions and allow those decisions to be bedded in and that hasn't been happening at the club," said Stubbins, with the double exit of Miller and Trani making it a turnover of seven coaches in four seasons for the A-League club.

"Platforms need to be laid and if there is a constant change year after year at the top, then that's difficult.

"There's been a lack of continuity at the Jets and the process of rebuilding has had to start over again because of the regular changes made at the top."

Stubbins, who presided over an unprecedented player cull as he sought to change the Jets culture before ultimately being denied the chance to rebuild from ground zero, said that Miller had made some in-roads in his rookie season as he sought to stabilise the club.

"He was laying a pretty solid platform and building a decent squad," he added. "It's disappointing for the Jets, who potentially have massive support and you have to feel for them.

"There needs to be a better decision making process within the club where everybody is gravitating towards the one vision, otherwise you have a difference of opinions everywhere and for Miller and Trani not to be on the same page from the get-go suggests to me that the process to appoint the pairing initially was flawed.

"You have to feel for the supporters ... there was disgruntlement when I was there as I made some strong calls in trying to change the culture and it was unfortunate for me not to see a second year and now you have the same thing with Scott."

Miller's refusal to undertake mediation with Trani, after the assistant sparked a player revolt by conducting a training session in China players perceived as too demanding, led to his sacking.

Players took their grievances to Miller when he arrived in China and when new signing Aleksandr Kokko pulled up with a calf strain during a tour match, Trani was blamed.

Miller's 'it's me or him' ultimatum to his pay masters backfired and Trani's fate was sealed when the players declined to work under him.

It's an all too familiar tale at the Jets, with Stubbins saying: "I am sure both Scott and Luciano are both feeling terrible at the minute.

"Just as Gary van Egmond would have and as I did ... it just seems like it's a recurring theme over the years.

"On the basis of the dismissals you'd have to say that it was an error for the club to bring Miller and Trani together yet it is hopefully a lesson learnt for them.

"Let's hope whoever they bring in next is allowed the time and his own hand-picked staff to gain some forward traction. Relationships within the club will be key."

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4 min read
Published 12 September 2016 at 9:13am
By Dave Lewis