JP goes back to basics in helping rebuild Newcastle

JEAN-PAUL DE MARIGNY JEAN-Paul de Marigny first met then Jets director of football Remo Nogarotto at the Parklea Markets base of owner Con Constantine in September, 2004.
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It was the first of many coffees they would share.

Constantine had entrusted the experienced duo to assemble a playing squad for the inaugural A-League.

Build a roster that would compete, first and foremost, and also represent the fabric of the Hunter football faithful.

De Marigny, who was coach before dropping back to assistant when Englishman Richard Money was flown in, had vast experience – and success – as a player and coach in the old national league.

Nogarotto, an ex-chairman of Football Australia, had an extensive network of contacts and influence to go with it.

‘‘I remember meeting with Remo and Con at Parklea and mapping out a plan,’’ de Marigny said. ‘‘Balance was obviously important.

‘‘Initially the philosophy was to get players familiar with each other.

‘‘Assemble a group who had played together but also succeeded together.

‘‘Andrew Durante, Nicky Carle, Ante Milicic, Matt Thompson, Jade North … they had already been successful, would settle quickly and then we were up and running.’’

Then came the big guns, led by former Socceroos captain Ned Zelic, who was installed as the marquee and skipper.

Fellow internationals Richard Johnson and Vaughan Coveny also brought quality.

‘‘Ned was a big signing for us,’’ de Marigny said.

‘‘Big player, big personality and gave us credibility straight away.

‘‘We looked at Richie first and foremost because he was a good player. He had played in the Premier League at Watford, was a Socceroo and a midfielder.

‘‘Plus he was from Newcastle and had an instant connection with the fans.

‘‘We targeted a couple of other high-profile players but the money dried up. The salary cap was $1.2million at the time. I came from Marconi, who in the last national soccer league had a budget of $1.675m.’’

The Jets finished the regular season in fourth place, before going down to Central Coast Mariners over two legs in the qualifying final.

De Marigny parted ways with the Jets at season’s end as part of a clean-out.

The younger players he helped recruit went on to form the nucleus of the team who were crowned champions two years later.

‘‘The business side of things we had to be smart,’’ de Marigny said. ‘‘Look at the young ones, Stu Musialik, Jobe Wheelhouse, Labinot Haliti, Mark Bridge, Tarek Elrich … we identified Ben Kennedy, Jason Hoffman. If you look at what they have done since, it was good business.’’

After his exit from the Jets, de Marigny spent seven years out of the A-League. He was lured back in 2013 to assist Kevin Muscat in his maiden campaign in charge at powerhouse club Melbourne Victory.

‘‘The game had evolved so much from the first time I was involved to the second,’’ de Marigny said.

‘‘Being outside and then coming back in. They were worlds apart.

‘‘The scouting with all the different programs, the level of visa players have become better. The due diligence is more thorough.’’

After two successful seasons at the Victory, highlighted by the premiership double last season, de Marigny is back where he started. The job is not too dissimilar from the one he performed a decade ago.

‘‘At the Victory the club philosophy is what can we give you to make it better,’’ de Marigny said.

‘‘We don’t have that [budget]. But there is more than one way to skin a cat.

‘‘It is about maximising your resources. Knowing what tools you need and how you want to use them, that is important.

‘‘This club now is all about getting the tools to make the team better.’’