Craig Deans is the first Jets W-League coach to sign a multi-year deal, now he is eyeing an historic grand final appearance for the club.
In the past, coaching contracts have been done year to year but the club announced on Tuesday they had re-signed the 44-year-old to a two-year deal.
He took the reins three years ago and last season steered Newcastle to finals football for only the second time after a nine-year absence.
They went down fighting in an extra-time loss to Sydney FC in the semi-finals.
Never satisfied, Deans has lifted the bar again.
“We definitely want to be in the same position that we were in last year, where you get to the finals and give yourself that chance to win,” Deans said.
“But everyone that didn’t make it is going to go out and make a big effort to improve their squad, so if we don’t improve - our levels as a team and individuals from last year - we won’t.
“Success in one year doesn’t guarantee it the next. We definitely want to be in the same position. It’s just a matter of working hard and getting the players we want.”
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Finalising his squad is a priority with training scheduled to start September 17.
“[I’m] confident that if we can perform at the same level we can achieve the same if not better, it’s just a matter of everyone getting together,” Deans said.
“It’s such a short season you need to hit the ground running and the first three or four rounds are very important. We made a good start last year and we need to do the same this year.”
The Jets have added Matildas player Larissa Crummer to their roster and Deans is in the process of securing international players.
He expects last season’s leading goalscorer Katie Stengel and fellow American goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom to return.
Compatriots Tori Huster and Arin Gilliland, who played in the midfield, will not be back. Huster has an ankle injury and Gilliland is getting married.
“I don’t need to rush with the internationals,” Deans said.
“So there’s a good chance for people like Tara [Andrews] and Courtnee Vine and Soph Nenadovic and a few of the other ones that were fringe players last year to put their hand up and show me that I don’t need to sign four internationals all of the time. We can rely on the players we’ve got.”
Deans said signing a multi-year contract was a step towards ensuring club stability.
“In a lot of ways it makes it easier to plan recruitment and signing of players and plan how you want to play and which direction you’re going to go for more than one season,” he said.
He also hoped it would be followed in the not-too-distant future by multi-year contracts for players.
The Jets broke new ground last season when they signed Emily van Egmond to a two-year-deal. The home-grown Matilda has been playing for Orlando Pride in the NWSL in the United States and is expected back in Newcastle in coming weeks.
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“At the moment, every off-season it’s just a meat market. Every player is available and whoever pays the most money gets the players,” Deans said.
“I want to try to avoid that by looking at hopefully some longer-term player signings as well, which is a conversation for down the track I suppose.”
As well as looking abroad and at other W-League clubs, Deans will also invite local players to trial.
In addition to his contract extension, Deans will also take over as the Jets Academy director from Mike Cooper, who is relocating to Melbourne.
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