Whether he’s there at the end of the journey or not, Arthur Papas isn’t searching for a short-term solution to Newcastle’s A-League Men woes.
The Jets have turned to the 41-year-old as they aim to end a decline that stretches back over a decade.
Since their 2008 grand final triumph, the Jets have only made finals twice and last season finished second-last in a campaign that featured a equal club-record seven match losing run.
It was an underwhelming season which began with then coach Carl Robinson quitting the club to join Western Sydney in October and a consortium of rival club investors taking control of the Jets following the termination of owner Martin Lee’s licence.
Despite the uncertainty over that ownership structure, the opportunity to return to Australia and finally coach in the A-League was one Papas couldn’t turn down after spending most of the past 10 years in various roles across Asia.
The former Jets’ assistant worked in India, Saudi Arabia and Japan – most famously as a part of Ange Postecoglou’s staff as they led Yokohama F. Marinos to the J-League title in 2019.
Back at the Jets, Papas says his ambition and goal is to transform the club into a A-League force – not just for now but well into the future.
“Over the last 10 years there’s probably been one or two seasons that would be the kind of season that allow the supporters to smile for the majority of them,” Papas told AAP.
“I’m under no illusions that it is a challenging job but it’s also an opportunity.
“It’s been an opportunity to come in here and try to make a difference in the way we go about recruiting, the way we want to play.
“It’s been a lot of work from an organisational point of view as well, it’s not just on the field, but off the field it’s a big transformation.
“I consider it really the first step of what needs to be quite a few steps to give the opportunity for this club to not only just have one good season, but try to create a system that allows them to build year-after-year because I think that’s what our supporters deserve.
“Hopefully I’m here for the majority of them but if not, try to put some steps in place that will allow that stability to be created.”
Papas’s revolution has seen a dramatic overhaul of the Jets’ squad.
Club stalwart Nigel Boogaard has retired and is one of 15 players from last season’s squad who won’t be at McDonald Jones Stadium this campaign including Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Roy O’Donovan, Connor O’Toole, Johnny Koutroumbis, James Donachie and Ali Abbas.
In their place Papas has brought in a dozen new faces including fringe Socceroo Matt Jurman, New Zealand international Dane Ingham, Cameroon international Olivier Boumal and Greek forward Savvas Siatravanis.
The club’s unusual ownership structure has posed an additional challenge for Papas but he’s confident he has acquired a squad which can ensure his vision gets off to a bright start.
“Every coach in the league works with a different structure,” he said.
“I’m pleased with a lot of the work we’ve done.
“We know for a fact we’re not competing financially with the top teams in the league in that area but I think we’re being really intelligent about a lot of the recruitment to make up for that.
“It’s been unique in terms of recruitment, like we’ve really gone to places that you probably wouldn’t have expected to go but, in saying that, I feel that as it’s come together we’ve got a good balance in the squad.”