Star recruit Adam Hughes has taken over as interim head coach at Valentine and says he's open to doing the role full-time next year while remaining a player.
Valentine sacked co-coach Darren Sills last Saturday after their poor start to the Northern NSW NPL season which has left them last on one point after five rounds.
There was uncertainty about the future of co-coach Sam Griffin while the club sought expressions of interest for the top job.
Hughes, who came to the club this season and is also their technical director, said on Friday he had accepted the role of interim mananger and Griffin was staying on in Phoenix's coaching staff.
"The club has brought me in as an interim manager for the time being, until they decide which way they want to move forward, with what coach," Hughes said. "I said I'd help out in the meantime, see how things go and see if we can turn the corner."
However, Hughes is eyeing a future in coaching and was to manage Jilin Baijia FC in China this year before the club collapsed.
The former A-League and Chinese Super League player said he planned to continue on the field next year if fit and enjoying his football.
Asked if he could be a player-coach at Valentine in 2021, he said: "I'm not too sure. I'll just handle it in the next few weeks, however long it will be, and if the club is interested in or wanting me to move into the position, if they see things are going well and there's a balance there, that's a possibility.
"In the meantime, other people are going to be applying for the role as well."
Valentine take on Hughes' former club, Charlestown Azzurri, on Sunday at Lisle Carr Oval in their first game since Sills' departure. Their round five game against Adamstown, postponed because of COVID-19 isolations, will be held on Wednesday, August 26.
Hughes said the players "have to take a huge responsibility" for the results which led to the exit of Sills, who is a "fantastic guy everyone got along with".
"We have to look at ourselves and work out how we can improve," he said.
"We've started stepping up. We've added an extra night's training this week and we're going to do this moving forward and see if we can make some improvements.
"We've had a rough start, but in football things can change very quickly. We've put together good performances for 45 minutes, so it's matter of starting to put it together for 90. There's no reason we can't given the quality players here."
Azzurri (four points) have Regan Lundy and Jackson Frendo suspended from their 2-1 win last week over Weston but they will be boosted by news Daniel Minors has joined them. He will be available after Sunday's game.
Elsewhere Sunday in round six, Maitland host Lambton Jaffas, Edgeworth welcome Weston and Lake Macquarie head to Broadmdeadow. The Rosebud-Olympic clash at Adamstown was moved to Tuesday night because of players isolating from both clubs.
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