Stand-in Craig Deans looks to have edged out a three-strong cast of rivals for the Newcastle Jets coaching mantle.
With an announcement due on Wednesday by the Jets’ new hierarchy, Deans is in pole position after two wins and draw from the last three games lifted Newcastle to eighth on the A-League ladder.
Filling the void created by Carl Robinson’s acrimonious departure to Western Sydney Wanderers in December, Deans, 46, has spent the last 17 years in the Hunter, first as a player then in a number of coaching positions in what has been one of football’s longest-running apprenticeships.
It now appears his time has finally come, with the Jets board, headed up by executive chairman Shane Mattiske, set to give him the nod over Kenny Lowe, the former Perth Glory coach, when they meet tonight.
Ex-Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory assistant Hayden Foxe was also on the shortlist, along with former Jets and current Young Socceroos coach Gary van Egmond.
The latter was seeking the surety of a three-year contract but withdrew from the running when that could not be agreed upon, suggesting Deans - if anointed - will be on shorter term package.
Deans was slated to be appointed as assistant to Japan-based Arthur Papas under the ownership model proposed by a Sydney-based consortium which pulled out at the eleventh hour from purchasing the club late last year.
The Jets were subsequently bailed out by an A-League consortium led Sydney FC, Western United FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers FC.