September 12, 2019 by admin
GARY van Egmond has two years to turn a batch of exciting youngsters into a champion A-League outfit.
As reported on the Herald’s website yesterday, van Egmond has signed a one-year contract extension and will be at the helm of the Jets until the end of the 2013-14 season.
His retention is the first of a series of announcements expected this week.
Home-grown goalkeeper Ben Kennedy has been offered another two years on top of his existing deal, which expires at the end of the season.
The Herald also understands the Jets are in the final stage of negotiations with an Italian striker.
One person not in the club’s plans is recently appointed strength and conditioning coach Tim Rogers.
Six weeks after arriving from Stade Francais Paris rugby club, Rogers is understood to have parted ways with the Jets.
Van Egmond’s new deal has essentially given the 2007-08 championship-winning coach breathing space, more time to perfect the changes he introduced to the team’s playing style and culture when thrust into the hot seat four games into last season.
The Jets squad, assembled by the sacked Branko Culina, finished seventh of 10, two points out of the play-offs.
The campaign, though disappointing, was not a complete write-off.
Winning remained the priority, but van Egmond also used the season as a measuring stick for the future.
Adopting a blueprint used by Ange Postecoglou at two-time defending champions the Roar, he released players who did not have the physical attributes or the mindset to play his up-tempo, possession-based game.
Crowd favourites Tarek Elrich and Ali Abbas, 2010-11 player of the year Nikolai Topor-Stanley, leading goal-scorer Jeremy Brockie, former Premier League star Francis Jeffers and former Socceroo Kasey Wehrman were among the 11 let go.
In their place he recruited players light on years and heavy on pace and athleticism. James Brown, Scott Neville, Craig Goodwin, Adam Taggart and Josh Brillante have both in spades.
Apart from Neville, who at 23 has 63 A-League appearances, what they lack is experience and a wealth of goals.
The average age of the squad, excluding apprentices, is 23.
New imports Dominik Ritter and Bernardo Ribeiro are 23 and 22 respectively.
Of the strike force, Ryan Griffiths and veteran Englishman Michael Bridges are the only ones with a history of goal-scoring. Griffiths is coming off nine last season. Bridges was prolific early in his Premier League career but has scored three times in the past two seasons.
Van Egmond is looking to the future rather than the past. Significantly, there is no marquee player.
Eight of a maximum 23-man roster are products of Newcastle or Northern NSW.
Clearly van Egmond is prepared to gamble on youth.
The expected announcement tomorrow of an alliance between the Jets and Northern NSW Football from under-10s through to youth league will be another sign of that investment.
‘‘I see a bright future, for this season and for many years to come, in both the development of the players and in the total culture of the club,’’ van Egmond said in a statement issued by the club confirming his contract extension yesterday.
“It is exciting times for the Newcastle Jets Football Club; we have a great representation of local talent in our senior group and near 100per cent in our youth team.’’
Van Egmond encountered his first obstacle yesterday with scans confirming that Brown needs an operation to remove bone spurs from his ankle and will miss the start of the season.
No doubt more challenges lie ahead.
Van Egmond has always said he will be judged on results. Now he has another 12 months to get them.
Gary van Egmond
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