Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata is adamant his club’s reputation as a transit lounge for coaches won’t affect their search for a quality replacement following Sunday’s shock resignation of Ian Crook.
Citing the building burden of pressure and scrutiny, magnified by the acquisition of Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero, Crook stepped down after just six games, revealing it was affecting his health.
Sydney have slipped to eighth in the 10-team competition following two disastrous results – a 7-2 away loss to Central Coast followed by Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat by Melbourne Victory, where they let a two-goal lead slip.
Sydney are now searching for their seventh head coach in eight seasons but Pignata was confident Crook’s concerns about the role would not scare off potential replacements.
‘Ian wanted to make the decision, he felt he had to make the decision, we respect that, but does that impact on future coaches? I don’t think so,’ Pignata told AAP.
‘I think everyone will say that they want to have a chance and sometimes you feel you can bring something different, so I don’t think that (reputation) will have an impact.’
Assistant coach Steve Corica will act as a caretaker coach starting with Friday’s away game to fellow stragglers Brisbane.
Pignata, football director Gary Cole and chairman Scott Barlow will initiate the hunt for Crook’s successor, with the club eager to appoint someone quickly.
The list of Australian or locally-based candidates to replace Crook, who may stay on at the club in a development role, could include former national coach Frank Farina, Miron Bleiberg and former Sydney coach Branko Culina.
Another potential contender could be two-time Melbourne Victory A-League title-winning coach Ernie Merrick, who Cole knows from his time at that club.
Del Piero’s name has been mentioned in a player-coach capacity, but it seems more likely the marquee star would recommend someone else, perhaps Italian compatriot and former Chelsea coach Gianluca Vialli.
Crook was adamant he had not been forced out by the club and had actually contemplated resigning several weeks ago.
‘People look at two things. I’m sure they will go were you pushed?’, the answer 100 per cent is no, this is 100 per cent my decision,’ Crook said.
‘But number two, they will say was it because of last week and last night’s result?’
‘They were probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I’ve got to admit now that probably for me the catalyst was when we beat Western Sydney.
‘First win (of the season), inaugural derby, big crowd and I went home in the car afterwards and I felt completely flat.
‘At that particular time I thought it was the right time, but I stayed in there because I didn’t want to quit and the one reason I’ve done it now is because I think whoever comes to the job needs to have the time.’
After a long discussion with his wife on Saturday night, Crook texted Pignata at 1.30am on Sunday morning before revealing his decision six-and-a-half hours later.
‘For me it’s not about quitting, it’s about doing the right thing for everybody because the club have been fantastic to me,’ Crook said.
He broke the news to most of the players at a recovery session on Sunday.
‘I think Crookie deserves respect. 11 new players. Short time. Great man,’ Sydney’s Dutch defender Pascal Bosschaart tweeted.