Mark Jones has publicly declared his interest in the Newcastle Jets coaching job, saying the combination of an A-League head coaching role in his home city would be his dream job.
“I’m interested in the job,” the highly-respected former Jets assistant coach told The World Game. “They know I’m interested. Obviously these opportunities don’t come up very often, so if I was offered the job then of course I’d be more than interested.”
Jones has been mentioned as a likely strong contender for the job, which became vacant due to the club’s shock sacking of Scott Miller on Wednesday.
The Jets are naturally keen to appoint a new coach as soon as possible. Their season kicks off with a home game against Adelaide United on Sunday, October 9.
Jones, 50, played as a defender with several clubs in the National Soccer League, including Newcastle Rosebud and Newcastle Breakers.
He has since forged a successful coaching career, in some cases as an assistant at A-League level and also as a head coach at levels beneath that.
Most recently, Jones was appointed youth team coach for Adelaide United at the start of this year and recently took charge of the club’s W-League side as well.
Jones was assistant to Gary van Egmond at the Jets when they won the A-League championship in the 2007-08 season. He also returned there as an assistant towards the end of the troubled reign of coach Phil Stubbins, in the 2014-15 season.
When The World Game suggested to Jones that coming home to coach the Jets would probably be the dream job for him, he replied: “It is. Everyone wants to aspire to reach the highest level and that’s no different from a player to a coach.
“So I would love the opportunity to be an A-League coach and obviously to do it in your home town would be an added bonus.
“I’ve been at the Jets a few times. For the last seven or eight weeks of Phil Stubbins’ reign I was there, and during Gary’s time obviously.
“I’ve been an assistant coach at Perth Glory and I’ve filled the assistant coach role overseas in a number of places as well.
“I’ve been the head coach in some of the younger age groups, in Singapore and now the youth league in Australia, and I’ve been an NPL coach in NSW with the Central Coast team and an NPL coach in Adelaide.
“So I’ve sort of filled all the roles at that level and obviously I would like the opportunity to see how I would go at the top level.”
Jones worked with Lawrie McKinna, who is now the CEO at the Jets, at Chinese club Chongqing Lifan, several years ago. McKinna was head coach and Jones the assistant.
“We enjoyed our time in China and then we both had offers to come back to Australia and that suited for family reasons,” Jones said.
“I do know Lawrie well. I know a lot of people in the game. I’ve been around for a long time and I’d like to think I’ve got good relationships with a number of people in football.”
Jones said he was enjoying what had developed into a dual role for him at Adelaide United.
“I’ve just taken on the job with the women’s team and I’ve got a vested interest in women’s football because my daughter, Adriana, plays,” he said. “She will be in the team.”
Asked if he had spoken to the Adelaide management about his interest in the Newcastle job, or whether he had an agreement that if he secured an A-League job he could leave, Jones replied: “At this stage it’s very premature.
“I’ve got a good relationship with the owner of the club, and the club knows there is some interest and some speculation.
“If something was to eventuate I would go to the owner and ask for his thoughts.”