STUART Johnston is the new head coach of Rosebud and Donn Delaney is a short-priced favourite to take over the coaching reins at Frankston Pines.
The last week has been dominated by coaching conjecture and although Pines are yet to make an official announcement former JBNPL coach and ex-Peninsula Strikers head coach Delaney is at unbackable odds to be appointed.
Johnston was unveiled as new ’Buds boss at the club’s presentation on Saturday night in front of 130 attendees and this is his first senior appointment in Australia.
The Englishman is an ex-Crawley Town junior and also was part of Aldershot’s academy squad.
He played and coached at Chichester City before taking up coaching jobs at non-league clubs in Sussex.
He has been part of Mornington’s junior coaching set-up where his son Barney played before switching to Rosebud this year.
Johnston is both confident and ambitious and didn’t mince his words when asked what he would regard as success next season.
“Promotion. Definitely promotion. Without a doubt,” he said.
“I expect development of some of the younger players in the squad but I also expect development of some of the older ones.
“In terms of what we need I’ve identified a couple of gaps in terms of experience in certain positions and we’ll definitely strengthen in those areas.
“But I’ve inherited a squad with a lot of quality and we would have been promoted this year if not for the points deduction.”
Johnston believes that the playing surface of the Olympic Park pitch is conducive to producing attractive football and his job is to “create a fantastic player environment where they will look back in years to come with fondness and pride in what they have achieved.”
His comments are a challenge to his players and to other State 5 South clubs and how Rosebud deals with that next season should make for interesting viewing.
Johnston wasn’t the only candidate considered for the Rosebud role.
The local club gave serious consideration to hiring Skye United assistant Pete Natsis.
He is a former Heidelberg United, Banyule City and Northern Falcons player and coached at Falcons, FC Noble Hurricanes and Pakenham United before joining Skye last year.
“In my opinion it was a done deal on Tuesday afternoon only to find out it wasn’t on Wednesday afternoon and that there was another person in the running,” Natsis said.
“They then wanted to proceed with an interview process with the executive committee so I turned them down.
“We even spoke about a budget and I had four players ready to come with me.
“I was really disappointed with the way they went about it.”
Rosebud interim president John Grbac said that the club could not afford the outlay involved.
“We couldn’t afford Pete’s wages plus the payments for the players he wanted to bring.”
Meanwhile the situation at Pines doesn’t sit well with Delaney’s former club at Centenary Park amid talk of Strikers’ players being approached about switching to Monterey Reserve next season.
So much so that Strikers social media manager Nick Scialpi used the club’s facebook account to announce that three young players in Jai Power, Cody Storton-French and Jacob Pay had all re-committed to the club for the upcoming season.
It’s believed that all three had been approached about switching allegiances.
As for Pines the coaching situation remains unresolved despite Delaney being touted as the frontrunner.
It was thought that former Pines head coach Trevor Johnston was another possible candidate and there had been some talk that this year’s senior assistant and player-coach of the club’s women’s team, former Young Matilda Hayley Malgioglio, might also put her hand up for the role.
However Johnston ruled himself out of contention last weekend.
“I will not be senior coach of the Pines,” he said.
“I have not applied for it nor have I spoken to the club about becoming senior coach.”
If Delaney is appointed he may have a significant rebuilding role on his hands as a number of senior players are rumoured to be restless and are understood to be looking elsewhere next season.
At least one ambitious local club is watching developments closely and has already held preliminary talks with current Pines’ players.
In other news recently appointed Langwarrin coach Jamie Skelly has not finalised his support staff for next season.
It’s understood that both internal and external candidates have been looked at and Langy is expected to make an announcement shortly.
In State 1 the senior coaching situation at Mornington is unclear.
It was expected that long-serving head coach Adam Jamieson would continue his tenure but he is yet to confirm his intentions for next season.
In State 4 news Chelsea’s senior coaching position remains clouded despite the local club courting its preferred candidate for the past few weeks.
It is remaining tight-lipped about his identity and he is understood to have arranged a meeting with another club this week before giving Chelsea his answer.
Recently retired Chelsea coach Carlo Melino recommended the candidate in question.
“It will be a shame if the club is forced to advertise as I think he would do an amazing job at Chelsea,” Melino said.
In State 5 although no official announcement has been made Bryce Ruthven is expected to continue in his player-coaching role at Mount Eliza.
“A decision will be made in the next few weeks,” Ruthven said.