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Everything old is new again

by Sebastian Hassett on Oct 21, 2011

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Everything old is new again, or so it would seem at the Newcastle Jets with yesterday's appointment of former coach Gary van Egmond on a two-year contract and the re-signing Francis Jeffers as their final visa player.

View Gary van Egmond's Press Conference

The acquisition of 'Dutchy' was predictable from the moment Branko Culina was sacked, but he's definitely a good pick-up. You don't get a job as a local coach in the national setup unless you know what you're doing, and van Egmond is a shrewd operator.

He will be welcomed back into Newcastle with open arms. The fans love him, the players appreciated his style and if it wasn't for constant clashes with Con Constantine, he might have never left. The Jets boss certainly might have thought a bit longer about taking the job with the Australian Institute of Sport, one that was meant to accompany another role with the FFA but didn't after the threat of legal action from Constantine.

That messy exit ultimately meant he left a job he loved for half-a-job he was promised, and it's no secret he wasn't happy at the situation. It's rumoured living in Canberra didn't do much for him either, especially with his family recently moving back to Newcastle, where his daughter Emily will play in the W-League this season.

However, with Nathan Tinkler's takeover, the Jets are a much different proposition to the one van Egmond left. For starters, their future is assured, and while some may point to Culina's axing - and that of his son - as a pointer to underlying issues, it's the first snag of Tinkler's reign where things haven't gone to plan.

That said, the sacking of father and son was handled incredibly badly. Both deserved much better, especially Branko, who took the reigns at Newcastle at short notice when van Egmond originally moved on. He did a good job - to the best of his ability - with limited resources. It may be his final job in the A-League but I hope it isn't. He is good enough to coach elsewhere and if any A-League club falls into a management hole, Culina's name will come up.

The squad has changed considerably in the past two years and since the championship year of 2007-8, it's undergone a complete overhaul. Just a few names - like Jobe Wheelhouse, Tarek Elrich and Ben Kennedy - remain.

How fitting that van Egmond's first match in charge is the F3 Derby against Central Coast, a fixture in which he claimed his greatest moment in football, guiding the club to the title in an unforgettable finale. Getting away to an opening win would be the perfect tonic.

Plenty of the Jets' big names need to fire in the coming weeks to make sure van Egmond's transition is smooth, and while he won't be available for at least another week, Jeffers must have an impact soon.

Newcastle chief executive Robbie Middleby has shown great faith by offering the ex-England international a deal for the rest of the season, particularly given his bad injury history. It'll be interesting to see how much of the year he plays without breaking down. Hopefully he stays fit because he showed last season he retains a tremendously creative spark.

Finally, a quick word on Craig Deans. He'll step back to being a youth coach now, but one senses he'll get his chance at the senior level soon. He's held the squad together for the past month and has kept morale high. Only 37, he'll get his opportunities in the years ahead, but if he wants to take over at Newcastle, one senses it will be quite a wait before van Egmond vacates the seat.