Jets confirm Ernie Merrick as their new manager
DUAL A-League premiership-winning coach Ernie Merrick has been handed the task of rebuilding the struggling Newcastle Jets.
Merrick was unveiled as the Jets' new coach on Tuesday after another leading contender, former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean, was overlooked for the job.
Kean was informed by the Jets' Chinese owner Martin Lee late on Monday he had missed out to Merrick, who will become the embattled club's eighth coach in seven years.
He replaces Mark Jones, who was sacked last month only halfway through a two-year deal after Newcastle crumbled at the back end of the season to finish with the wooden spoon.
"Newcastle Jets is a great club and is based in a region which has an outstanding football history," Merrick told the Jets' website on Tuesday.
"I believe that the club has all the necessary ingredients for on-field success with a strong core of good quality players, a very competent staff, excellent facilities, and most importantly a wealth of extremely passionate fans.
"My role is to continue to resource and build the squad, engage with the community and to re-establish the club as a major competitor in the Hyundai A-League.
"I very much appreciate this exciting opportunity that owner Martin Lee and CEO Lawrie McKinna have given me to commit to this challenge."
Merrick has been favourite for the job virtually from the moment Jones was shown the door, with Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna emphasising the need to appoint an experienced coach to finally drag the club out of the doldrums.
The push for a seasoned coach to take the helm ended the chances of the likes of former Liverpool stars Harry Kewell and Robbie Fowler, who both expressed an interest in the job.
Kean, who spent almost two years in the top job at Blackburn following the sacking of former manager Sam Allardyce in 2010, is said to have pushed hard for the job but Merrick's record and knowledge of the A-League and the local player market is understood to have tipped the ledger in his favour.
While he did not complete his last contract with Wellington Phoenix after resigning mid-season, Merrick has previously taken Melbourne Victory to two A-League premierships and two grand final wins.
The Jets have already signed Victory defender and Sunday's Joe Marston Medallist Daniel Georgievski and Central Coast Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan for next season, with a number of other new signings to be unveiled in the coming weeks.