Deans says Jets players must take responsibility for Merrick’s demise
Caretaker boss Craig Deans says Newcastle Jets players need to take some responsibility for Ernie Merrick’s sacking and he expects an immediate response against Sydney FC on Friday night.
Westfield W-League boss Deans along with Hyundai A-League assistant Quiang Li have been appointed interim coaches after Merrick was shown the door on Monday.
Merrick lost his job after the Jets’ 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne Victory on Sunday.
They are currently bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder with just two wins from 11 matches, having also copped heavy defeats to Victory, Melbourne City (4-0) and Perth Glory (6-2) over the last month.
“As a team, when a coach gets sacked it’s your responsibility as a group of players because the coach is not out on the field playing the game,” Deans told reporters on Wednesday.
“I would imagine and hope every player is feeling hurt by it and is taking some responsibility for the fact the coach has gone.
“They need to lift because there’s another coach coming in and if they want to be a part of the new coach’s plan then they need to make sure they are fully focused and performing.
“If they aren’t it is going to make life difficult for themselves.”
Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna said there are a long list of potential candidates to be Merrick’s successor, including former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The club are hoping to have a new manager installed ahead of their January 24 clash against Wellington Phoenix.
While not entirely ruling himself out of the running, Deans says becoming the full-time Hyundai A-League coach isn’t on his radar right now.
The 45-year-old admits he is “disappointed" to take a step back from his Westfield W-League role but his main focus is on helping the club out of a tough period.
“The big picture is the club is in the situation where we all need to help and we all need to do what’s best for the club,” Deans said.
“The best thing at the moment is to help out with the boys and my staff in the W-League are more than capable of doing the job.
“I’m disappointed I won’t be on the [Westfield W-League] bench on Friday but I’ll be watching…I might shout some instructions form the tunnel. I’m confident both teams can get the job done.”
Which is easier said than done considering the Jets take on runaway league-leaders and defending Hyundai A-League Champions Sydney FC in Deans’ first match at the helm.
But even with the side struggling for confidence and in the middle of a five-game winless streak, Deans says he won’t be making wholesale changes.
“It’s more about getting the mentality of the players back on track and making it simple for them,” he said.
“You always get a positive reaction in situations like this in regards to output and work ethic because as a player you feel responsible for the coach going.
“I’m sure there will be no issues with attitude and work ethic. We just have to simplify it and have them ready to go on Friday.
“We’ll basically have a look at the opposition and get some information into the players that’s going to help them to win.”
When asked if the players still believed they can turn things around and make the finals, Deans said: “If they don’t it’s a problem.
“The A-League can very quickly turn on its head.
“You can lose three or four in a row you drop from third or fourth to last, or if you win three or four in a row you can go from last to fourth or fifth.
“Everyone is fully aware that things change very quickly, it’s just breaking the cycle of not winning that’s the challenge. The quicker we do it the better.”
Deans is sweating on the fitness of Dimitri Petratos, who sat out training on Wednesday with “groin tightness”.
Panamanian international Abdiel Arroyo has trained strongly this week and could make his return from injury on Friday night.
Friday, 10 January 2020
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports