THE Newcastle Jets might not need to search any further than their own backyard for a solution to their coaching crisis.
That's the opinion of former Jets coach Ernie Merrick, who believes his one-time assistant, Clayton Zane, would be ready-made to take the reins of his home-town A-League franchise, after the shock departure of Carl Robinson to Western Sydney Wanderers two weeks ago.
The only problem is that former Socceroo Zane, who was Newcastle's interim head coach for a 12-game stint in 2014, isn't interested and does not plan to apply for the vacant position.
The 43-year-old has personal reasons to focus on family before work and is quite content running his own coaching consultancy business, InZane Football.
Instead Zane has recommended that the Jets go with a coaching staff steeped in local knowledge - Craig Deans as head coach, with Daniel McBreen and Damian Zane as his assistants.
Deans was a foundation player with the Jets who has twice occupied Newcastle's A-League hot seat on a caretaker basis, as well as coaching the W-League side and academy youngsters. McBreen, after a lengthy playing career, has been the Jets' youth-team coach for more than a year while Damian Zane, Clayton's cousin, has overseen an era of excellence with Edgeworth Eagles in the Northern NSW NPL.
"I think now is the time to go with a coaching staff who have a local feel," Clayton Zane told the Newcastle Herald.
"It's looking very much like the club won't have the same quality of squad next season, because they've already let players go out on loan.
"If they were to go with local coaches - Craig, Daniel and Damian - they're already here, they can start straight away and they can hit the ground running. And those guys know Newcastle and will understand what it takes to get a team to over-achieve against the clubs with better resources and bigger budgets."
Deans has coached the Jets in an interim capacity in eight A-League games, in two stints, after the sackings of Branko Culina and Merrick respectively.
He has been again asked to fill the role, at least temporarily, and oversaw the return of players for pre-season training and testing on Monday.
When Merrick's contract was terminated in January, Deans took charge for five games but was publicly non-committal about whether he wanted the job long-term.
His apparent reticence is perhaps understandable when you consider that Newcastle's next coach will be their seventh in the space of six years.
The job has been a poisoned chalice.
Maybe that is one reason why Zane does not covet it, despite Merrick describing him as "a terrific coach" who was capable of becoming an A-League success story.
Zane has a similar level of faith in Deans, who may well be the right man for the job ... even if Newcastle officials don't yet realise it.
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