Newly appointed Newcastle Jets coach Mark Jones is thinking big – and he’s not panicking about his side’s chances in this season’s Hyundai A-League.Jones, appointed just over two weeks ago, faces his first challenge as head coach of his hometown club against the reigning A-League champions Adelaide United this Sunday at Hunter Stadium.
But as the former Jets assistant coach told www.a-league.com.au, his vision is to leverage the club’s strong youth development culture and work towards a sustainable club model and an entertaining and consistent football philosophy.
“If you look at Arsenal, if we can be the Arsenal of Australian football, I’d be more than happy,” Jones said.
“They’re always up around the top and always playing good football, always bringing young players through, with a good business model. I’d love to be that.
“To develop consistency as a club and bring through junior players as we did when we won the A-League in 2008.
“I’d just like to be that Arsenal style team that’s always up there [on the ladder], we don’t have to always win the league, but just be competitive and have a good club model.
"And not necessarily having the biggest budget in the league but one that’s sustainable.”
That’s the future. And who's to say that won't happen?
For now, though, Jones hasn’t radically changed the structure of the first team on the eve of the season.
He building on the base that’s been set by former coach Scott Miller and will make tweaks as required as the season progresses.
“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said, adding one of his challenges will be to draft a Plan B style of play and formation alongside the current possession-based 4-3-3 system.
What's more, he can take Adelaide United as a good example of how quick things can change in football, though he has his own example of football's form rollercoaster.
“We’ve constantly gone through change in Newcastle. Some of it’s been good.
"I came in with Gary Van Egmond in 2006/07 and we were dead last. Lost seven in a row. Then we went from last to third and the crowds went from 5000 to 15,000," said the 50-year-old, who was signed from Adelaide United where he had a technical development role.
“It can happen just like that. It all changed within three to four months. And we should’ve won the game that would’ve got us to the grand final that year.
“You couldn’t write a better script. Rugby League got pushed off the back page [in Newcastle] and the town was buzzing.
“And the next year we won it[the Grand Final] the following year we came last. Things can turn and change… that’s football.
“I’m not sure what everyone’s panicking about?" he asked.
"It can change again. And if we do well and it can happen, people will be saying, 'what were we worrying about?'”