New Jets boss Clayton Zane has vowed to target the finals this season for the first time in three years after taking charge of Newcastle from Gary van Egmond yesterday.
Former Socceroo Zane paid tribute to the previous boss - who was axed this weekend after his side slumped to defeat against Melbourne Heart, ending the Victorian's run of 19 games without a win - and said he'd learnt a lot from him.
But he insisted he would be his own man and run the team his way as he fought to impress the board and land the job on a permanent basis.
“It’s a huge challenge, but I welcome the challenge," Zane said. "I think people out there will question my experience, but I think the only way I can get the experience is to be thrown into the role.
“I’ve learnt a lot from Gary, but in saying that I’m not a cut-out of Gary either. I think I have my own take on what needs to be done.
“I’m under no illusion that the challenge for me isn’t just to steady the ship, we’re looking to make the top six. It’s an audition because like every opportunity, it’s up to me what I do with it.
“In saying that, the focus has to just be on the next 12 games and I’ll break it down into smaller parts with the first game this weekend becoming the most important one.
“If the club feel like the correct decision is to look for more experience and they choose to go that way, then so be it - I don’t think that will distract me at all.
“I’ve accepted the role knowing that it might be exactly how I like it, but I’m very proud to say the role is something I want to take on and take on 100 per cent.”
He ruled out wholesale changes or fresh blood and added: “There’s a good squad in place here already, a squad that’s capable of making the top six and it’s just about focusing from here on in to take it one game at a time.
“I think we’ll look at how we’ve tried to do things in the past and we’ll definitely tweak things, because the past six matches probably haven’t gone to plan.
“We’ll talk to the playing group and we’ll look to definitely put a different spin on things, but that doesn’t mean that everything that’s been worked on in pre-season and the first part of this A-League season goes out the window.
“We want to maintain the focus that we had at the beginning of the season, but there will definitely be changes to the playing style and I think that’s needed now if we’re going to kick on and make the top six.”
Zane, 36, was appointed interim head coach after joining the club as head coach of the Jets W-League team then moving to run the National Youth League side for the past two seasons.
He added: “The club has supported me firstly with the W-League and then the Youth League.
“It’s a very exciting time for me personally and I’m trying to focus already on what we need to do for this weekend.