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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
James Gardiner

Long-term goals: New coach vows to lead Jets to sustained success

NEW BALL GAME: Jet coach Carl Robinson. Picture: Simone De Peak

NEW Newcastle Jets boss Carl Robinson is a hands-on coach who intends to "push" and "test" the players and believes they can "quickly climb" up the A-League table.

Robinson and assistant, former Rangers striker and Scottish international Kenny Miller, were unveiled at a press conference at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

The pair will be in the stands for the F3 Derby against the Mariners on Sunday and take charge of their first session Monday.

Robinson, 43, has been closely monitoring the Jets since he began talks with chief executive Lawrie McKinna a month ago.

"I know people will say the standings don't lie, but they are a good squad of players," he said. "They need a little bit of tweaking here or there and maybe one or two additions. They can quickly climb up the table. I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't believe that. I have confidence in my and my staff's ability and I also have confidence in the players.

"If you look at the last two performances especially ... they are unlucky not to be sitting here with two wins. That is football. You have to deal with it.

"You don't feel sorry for yourself. You roll your sleeves up and get back to work. I am very hands on. The players will get tested. The players will get pushed. They will like me at times, they will dislike me. My job is to get the best out of them."

Robinson, who played 52 internationals for Wales, took his previous side Vancouver Whitecaps to the Major Soccer League play-offs three times during a five-year stint in charge.

He said there were many parallels between the Jets and Whitecaps and the two leagues.

"There are so many similarities in relation to salary cap, player movement, international spots ... all of these things were talking points in Major League Soccer," he said. "I can see the growth that is possible in this league and I want to be part of it. I like challenges and I like projects.

"Clearly the aim has to be the play-offs. I think every team in the A-League, that is their aim. Not just get in the play-offs, have a long run in the play-offs. I got very close a few times with Vancouver and couldn't get over the final hurdle. It didn't sit well with me. I'm taking this challenge not to get to the second step, I want to go all the way to the final as they did in 2018. Maybe go one step further. That will be the goal. "

At Vancouver, Robinson had success with a counter-attacking game that was forged on a solid defensive base.

"It is trying to find the balance with what players you have at the football club," he said. "If you have a group of players who are very strong in the league, then you can play all-out attack. If you look at Liverpool and Man City they attack, attack, attack. If you look at Burnley or Crystal Palace, they are built on the defensive side.

"In Vancouver, I had to build a group of players who were able to compete regularly, on a weekly basis, on a yearly basis to try and get to the play-offs against some very good teams. We did that by being stout defensively and being very quick on the break.

"We have very good players here. We dominate the ball. What we need to do is try and score goals. Lawrie made a good signing last week with Roy O'Donovan coming back. We know he is a proven goal-scorer in this league and there will be a couple of other things we look to try and do.

"It won't be ripping it all up and trying to reinvent the wheel. I don't think any manager can do that, and if they try, it usually back fires.

"It will be getting to know the players. Some will prove my initial thoughts wrong. Some will come out of the woodwork. Some will improve, some won't and that will make my decisions easier moving forward."

Negotiations between Robinson and the Jets stretched out for nearly a month, which included a trip from Canada to meet with McKinna and inspect the facilities.

"Lawrie was open, he was honest and I got the feeling that everything was directed to the club being successful," Robinson said. "That is all you can ask as a manager. You want the truth. If you are going to work in a salary cap league, you need to know what the positives are and what the negatives are. I have been in Major League Soccer for 13 years [as a player and coach] so I understand the system and I want a challenge. I like challenges."

Robinson will be the longest-serving coach in the Jets history if he completes the three-and-a-half year term.

He will be joined in Newcastle by wife Laura, 17-year-old daughter Lowri and son Milo, 11, in the next few weeks.

"It is a long way to come and uproot my family," he said. "My family will be joining me which is important. It wasn't a simple decision made overnight. Lawrie was very patient and understood the process I needed to go through.

"When you say a three-year contract. People get caught up in that. My job is to come here, help the club be successful and win games of football. I will look at it stage by stage. There will be a one-year plan, there will be a three-year plan, there will be a five-year plan.

"Whether I get to five years, who knows. You might readjust after one year, depending how successful we are. Those things will be in place subject to change, depending how successful we are."



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