NEW coach Phil Stubbins has been entrusted to ‘‘bring a winning mentality’’ to the Newcastle Jets after the former Adelaide assistant signed a two-year deal with the under-performing A-League club.
Stubbins, 51, arrived yesterday from Thailand, where he had been at the helm of first division club Ayutthaya.
He met with Jets support and administration staff and will be formally unveiled at a press conference today.
Clayton Zane, interim coach after Gary van Egmond was sacked in January, will stay as Stubbins’s assistant.
James Pascoe will continue as youth team coach and Michael Bridges will take charge of the Emerging Jets under 18s.
Stubbins’s appointment comes a week after the Jets withdrew a multi-year offer to former Socceroos and Mariners championship-winning mentor Graham Arnold.
Stubbins was one of three candidates, along with former All Whites and Wellington coach Ricki Herbert and Birmingham City boss Lee Clark, interviewed before Arnold’s sudden departure from J-League club Vegalta Sendai last month.
He was shortlisted for the position in 2011 before van Egmond returned for his second term.
A former midfielder, who played for Heidelberg and South Melbourne in the old National Soccer League and also had a season in Japan at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Stubbins had three years at Adelaide United as the assistant coach to Aurelio Vidmar.
He was instrumental in recruiting Mathew Leckie, Eugene Galekovic and Sasa Ognenovski and helped steer the Reds to the 2008 Asian Champions League final and the 2008-09 A-League grand final.
The Jets have missed the finals for the past four seasons, a drought that chief executive Robbie Middleby is confident will end under the new direction.
‘‘Phil is an experienced coach who knows the A-League and has strong man management skills,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘He will bring a winning mentality to the club and he knows what it takes to be successful.’’
It is unclear if Stubbins has replacements for goalkeeper coach Bob Catlin and performance co-ordinator Karl Dodd, who along with assistant coach Craig Deans were axed a fortnight ago.
He previously worked with Sean Tagg in Adelaide, who is currently the strength and condition specialist for New Zealand Police.
Stubbins, a talented golfer who interrupted his football career in 1993 to win a place on the Australasian PGA tour, said he was excited at the potential at the Jets and was looking forward to establishing ‘‘a clear identity and winning culture’’.
Jets chairman Ray Baartz, who was also involved in the interview process in 2011, described Stubbins as a ‘‘standout candidate’’ and a professional with ‘‘great technical and tactical knowledge’’.
After parting ways with Adelaide in 2010, Stubbins spent two years at the Australian Institute of Sport, before heading to Thailand. He holds an Asian Football Confederation Diploma and UEFA coaching licence.
In other A-League news, Melbourne Victory’s most consistent defender of the past two seasons, Adama Traore, is leaving the club to play professional football in Europe.
The Ivorian defender went to Victory from Gold Coast United two seasons ago and his marauding runs from left-back and combative defending made him a fan favourite.
Coach Kevin Muscat said the club could not make him an offer to stop him from pursuing his European hopes.
‘‘I realise the fans will be just as disappointed as we are that Adama is leaving, but I know every Victory supporter will join me in wishing him all the very best as he pursues his European dreams.’’
Traore recently secured Australian citizenship and leaves with 52 Victory appearances and one goal.
‘‘I have loved every minute that I have been at Melbourne Victory,’’ he said.
‘‘While I would like to have stayed at the club next season, the opportunity to play in Europe is too good for me to pass up.’’
Traore’s decision is a blow for Victory’s hopes of improving their fourth-placed finish to the season.
Beset by injuries and a demanding schedule with Asian Champions League travel, Victory finished the season without a clean sheet in their final 19 games.