BLOG: The More Things Change……..

So, obviously the news has been confirmed that Scott Miller has been removed as head coach at the Newcastle Jets, effective immediately.
While it’s never a great idea to remove a coach a few weeks before the season starts, at least this time it wasn’t a few days before the opening round like when Branko Culina was removed in 2011 due to a difference of opinion with senior management on the ongoing fitness of a marquee player that also happened to be his son.

First and foremost, Scott deserves sincere thanks from everyone associated with this football club for coming into the Jets when we were absolutely at our lowest point in our history. He worked in a club under FFA ownership after one of our worst seasons, a very ordinary squad, no money for marquee players or even the ability to spend all of the wage cap. And this was with no guarantee beyond the end of the season he would even be retained should new owners come in. He was on a hiding to nothing when he arrived, and I am sure he was hoping that with the ownership sorted in the offseason, he would be able to make a decent fist of things in upcoming seasons. However, it was not to be.

Scott Miller stats (thanks to @Jeterpool)

  • 29 games in charge (27 A-League, 2 FFA Cup)
    3rd longest serving Jets coach
    (1) Gary Van Egmond 144 games
    (2) Branko Culina 59 games
  • Wins 8 (27.6%) Draws 6 (20.7%) Losses 15 (51.7%)
    Second worst win percentage in Jets history
  • Avg Goals Scored per match 1.069
    Avg Goals conceded per match 1.586
  • First coach in Jets history to lead us to victory after going 2 goals down in a match
  • Coach with the most points in Jets history attained after going behind in a match (8)

While some people with unrealistic expectations will look at those stats in isolation and point out we also didn’t make the finals yet again, we were much more difficult to beat. Lets not forget that the most important stats to remember was that we won away in Gosford for the first time in 2969 days and were undefeated against the Mariners in the regular season for the first time since season 3.

Stats aside, no-one apart from the most negative of online commenters on Newcastle Herald articles could say that Miller and JP didn’t make the players play with passion for the shirt and for the long-suffering supporters in the stands last season. Even if results didn’t go our way a lot of the time, it seemed pretty clear that Scott had the backing of a decent majority of Jets supporters who were prepared to give him a chance. Most people were interested to see how he would continue to develop the squad and playing style now that the club had been sold and was on a stable ownership footing rather than under FFA ownership and being run on the smell of an oily rag.

But that wont happen now unfortunately, and it’s likely it will take a while for the details to come out. However its seems (according to reports) that there was a significant falling out between Miller and his new assistant Luciano Trani, who was brought in to replace Jean-Paul de Marigny, which precipitated Millers removal from the head coach position. And it also appears from an interview with Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna on ABC Newcastle during Paul Bevan’s Drive program that the decision was made by senior management in China rather than Lawrie himself.

After making numerous platitudes in a local media charm offensive regarding local consultation and engagement when taking over in June, in one fell swoop Ledman Group has seriously dented the cache of goodwill from the footballing community that had been banked up simply by not being Nathan Tinkler or for that matter, the FFA. Ledman Group’s next move will be key in reassuring novocastrians – deflated by seasons of disappointment, empty promises and false dawns – that the Jets are headed for an extended period of stability rather than the continual roller-coaster ride that seems to be part and parcel of supporting a Newcastle team in the national football competition.

The next coaching appointment needs to be for the long term, be someone with a clear philosophy and it will be interesting to see which of the usual suspects will put their hand up for the job and whether any left-field applicants are made public. Solid local NPL coaches Arthur Papas, Mark Rudan and Damien Mori would seem to be in line for a shot at the position along with other well known coaches such Mike Mulvey, Miron Bleiberg and Aurelio Vidmar. Could it be time Mark Jones or Clayton Zane be elevated into a top gig? Could Ante Milicic be ready to move from his Socceroos assistant role into the head coaching role? Or are there any local coaches in the NNSW NPL competition ready to make the step up?

Alternatively, could Ledman Group be persuaded to spend a little more money and bring in a higher calibre overseas coach? Would that regain a little bit of goodwill, lost thanks to the events of Wednesday afternoon? Time will tell but as always, never let it be said that life as a Jets supporter was ever boring.

Never Tear Us Apart