We kicked the countdown off with two veterans of the coaching game, today we head to the north coast of NSW for our next two coaches.
8. Gary van Egmond
Turning a floundering club around is no easy job, but given his success the first time around, it’s no wonder Newcastle Jets have given “Dutchy” another chance.
Initially, he got the job when the Jets found themselves winless after the first seven games of season 06/07 and then-coach Nick Theodorakopoulos found himself without a job.
A young coach whose experience was almost exclusively as an assistant or youth team coach, van Egmond saved the Jets season, somehow even getting them into the finals.
The upward curve continued the following season as Newcastle finished second on goal difference alone but the Jets claimed a memorable grand final victory and quire remarkable two season in charge for Van Egmond. He left the club at the end of season 08/09 to take over the Australian Institute of Sport’s football program, but responded to the call from the Hunter once again, following Branko Culina’s swift departure.
Van Egmond’s time with the AIS should bode well for the future of the Jets as the head coach looks to promote the best young talent. The side struggled to adjust to the new regime last season, with some players finding his man-management skills lacking, but despite missing out on the finals, on the pitch there were still positive signs in the way van Egmond was encouraging his players to use the ball quickly.
That first stint, highly successful stint in Newcastle should be enough to convince of van Egmond’s quality – it will be fascinating to see how he has progressed since then.
Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below
7. Lawrie McKinna
As the inaugural coach of the smallest club in a brand new competition, Lawrie McKinna arguably faced the toughest task of all Hyundai A-League coaches when he took the reigns of Central Coast Mariners in 2005. But the genial Scot proved he was exactly the right fit for the club, with his experience with Northern Spirit in the NSL proving a solid platform for the new club.
McKinna made a habit of proving the doubters wrong during his time in Gosford. No one quite expected the Mariners to go as well as they did in their first season, winning the preseason cup and going all the way to the grand final – only to be narrowly defeated by the then “glamour club” Sydney FC. Two years later, McKinna guided them to their first championship – but again lost out in the decider, losing 1-0 to Newcastle Jets.
McKinna’s sides were never particularly easy on the eye – “agricultural” is perhaps a term harsher critics might have used – but they were undeniably successful and imbued with a real team spirit, and the coach brought through some excellent young talent, including the likes of Alex Wilkinson and Danny Vukovic.
Whatever your opinion on his style of play, all that matters for a coach is his ability to get the best out of his players and bring success to the club, which McKinna certainly delivered to the Mariners.
The views in this article are those of the author and not Football Federation Australia