Newcastle Jets helmsman Craig Deans is set for a busy run-in to the season’s end in the W-League and the A-League, after the 45-year-old was named caretaker boss for the club’s men’s squad following Ernie Merrick’s shock sacking.
Merrick, who guided the men’s squad to an A-League grand final during the first year of his nearly-three year tenure, was shown the door after failing to peel the Jets away from last place in this season’s top-flight campaign.
The club has confirmed Deans—who was already working as the men’s assistant coach alongside his W-League duties—will share the head coaching roles with fellow assistant coach Qiang Li for the remainder of the season.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna has also confirmed Newcastle are already in the hunt for a new head coach, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
“During Ernie’s tenure, the club reached its first grand final in more than ten years and we’re grateful for his contribution during his two and a half years in Newcastle,” McKinna said.
“However, results and performances haven’t been good enough this season and a change was needed. On behalf of everyone at the Club, I wish Ernie all the best in his future endeavours.”
Deans is the most experienced coach in the W-League, and scooped for top gong for coaching in 2015/16. He has served the Newcastle Jets women’s squad for five years, and boasts the longest tenure among current W-League coaches.
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There’s been no indication about how the club will handle split fixtures between the men’s and women’s squads so far, but it’s likely Deans will remain guiding the W-League team while Li steps into the A-League hot seat in some weeks.
This weekend sees a double-header at McDonald Jones Stadium, meaning Deans will have a lengthy job on the touchline as he commands the W-League team at 5pm against Adelaide, before facing Sydney in the A-League afterward.