Former Kiwi international Leo Bertos admits he's playing catch-up at Weston after taking over at the Northern NSW NPL club to kick-start his senior coaching career.
Weston announced on January 3 that Bertos would replace Kew Jaliens, who took the Bears to fifth place, a point outside the top four, in his first year in charge last season. Jaliens is set to take up a coaching opportunity overseas but will stay on to assist Bertos until he departs.
Bertos was the technical adviser at Northern NSW Football when he accepted the Weston role. NNSWF has since parted ways with Bertos, who was also serving as acting technical director in the absence of Clayton Zane.
NNSWF chief David Eland said the federation was shortlisting applicants to replace Zane, who resigned this month, and the new technical director would help appoint Bertos' successor.
Bertos is exploring his career options while trying to further his coaching.
The 38-year-old former Perth and Wellington winger last played with Olympic in the NNSW NPL in 2018 and he was excited about the new challenge at Weston.
"It's generally a young squad, which is good. There's a lot of enthusiasm and potential there and I think it's a really good opportunity," Bertos said. "I spoke to Kew towards the end of last year and he told me what he was looking at doing. Hopefully he can land something overseas. If that was the case, he'd like someone to come in who could continue what he'd started.
"I've been going through the badges myself and working with the federation, and this is the next step for me with my coaching."
It's still early day for Bertos at the Bears, who play their first trial this weekend in Sydney against Spirit FC, but the goal was clear.
Weston were the big improvers last season, following a ninth-place finish in 2018 and wooden spoons in 2016-17, and a top-five finals place this year is in their sights.
They had recruited Connor Heydon (Adamstown) and Jarryd Sutherland (Olympic), and lost Regan Lundy (Azzurri) and Dutchman Jason Tjien-Fooh, before Bertos came in and he was looking for more additions.
"We're a little bit on the back foot, obviously coming in quite late and not having much time to really explain how I want to do things and put things in place," he said.
"It will take a bit of time to get everything going. Obviously players as well, although Kew has done a great job with the roster last year.
"A few of the boys have left so it was just about continuing what he has got in place and trying to build from what they did last year, but we haven't finalised the roster yet.
"At the moment it's just about getting to know the players, and working with them to play a certain way, a way I like to play but also what suits them.
"Then there's figuring out the missing pieces. Last season they seemed to do quite well, but they believed they didn't put the ball in the net as much as they should have.
"That's a key area to look at bringing in players, but I want to make sure it's someone who can really make a difference.
"There are a few young players coming through the ranks there that not many people know about as well, so there could be an opportunity for them to get involved."