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Oct, 10, 2006

Dumped Jets boss vows he'll be back

Sacked Newcastle Jets boss Nick Theodorakopoulos has vowed to return to elite-level coaching despite being bitterly disappointed with his axing from the A-League club.

Theodorakopoulos was cut just one-third of the way through the season after failing to win a game in 13 matches with the Jets against A-League opposition.

Assistant Gary van Egmond, a former Socceroo who represented Australia at the 1988 Olympics, will take over as caretaker coach for at least the next two weeks, with perennial A-League coaching candidate Frank Farina believed to be one of the leading contenders for the job.

Theodorakopoulos is gutted he will not have the chance to see out the season, and just as disappointed with the way his dumping had been handled.

"I was confirmed by (chairman) Con Constantine about a week ago that everything was fine and ... I would see the season out," Theodorakopoulos told Sky News.

"But unfortunately on Monday Con made the hard decision, I received a phone call from the CEO (George Liolio) and he requested me to resign. I subsequently denied that, and I was then told not to turn up the following day.

"I expressed my disappointment to (Constantine) today, he expressed his disappointment of only having three points, and I just would have liked it to be handled a little bit differently.

"But more importantly I would have liked to have finished the season because there was some mitigating circumstances over the last seven weeks.

"The next question I know is `would I want to coach again' and the answer is: of course."

The Jets - semi-finalists last season under Englishman Richard Money - sit dead last on the ladder with just three draws from its opening seven games. Newcastle also failed to claim victory in any of its six pre-season cup matches.

The woeful start follows a disruptive pre-season in which injuries, the drawn-out departure of former marquee player Ned Zelic, and several player recruitment issues - most notably a goalkeeper - severely hampered the team's preparations.

Some of those issues were already present at the club before Theodorakopoulos arrived in April.

But in announcing the sacking today, Jets football director Remo Nogarotto claimed the former NSL-championship-winning coach had been given ample time and assistance to prove his worth.

"Thirteen games without a hint of daylight on the win side of the scoreboard, I would probably suggest is a fair bit of patience in professional sport," said Nogarotto.

"The reality is that there are a number of players here that the coach particularly asked for and he got.

"You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to work out some of the more obvious reasons - 13 games, no wins, seven games in the competition, three points - it's a brutal game this ... and the performance had to be assessed."

Nogarotto, who believes the Jets can still mount a finals charge, said the club did not have a clear candidate in mind but suggested van Egmond could have the inside running if the 41-year-old produced immediate results.

Farina, who has been linked to virtually every vacant A-League coaching position since his departure as Socceroos boss last year, said he would be interested in the job.

"If the situation is right, of course," Farina told Sky News.

"But I'm not just talking about Newcastle, I'm just saying if something good came up which was the right move for me I'd definitely be interested."

Peter Tsekenis, a former Olyroo and Newcastle player now coaching Bankstown City in the NSW State League, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

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