Struggling Northcote City has sent out an SOS to former head coach Goran Lozanovski in a bid to salvage its season, and the former championship-winning coach has answered the call, resigning from his assistant coach’s position at Port Melbourne Sharks to return to John Cain Reserve.
Lozanovski returns after departing Northcote City at the end of last season after first taking the senior coaching position in 2012. The former Socceroo says he was surprised to get the call from John Cain because, as he explained, “at the end of the day, we didn’t share the same views before I left and that was a little disappointing”.
“But you know the committee made their own decisions, made their own bed and laid in it,” he continued. “It’s disappointing to see the club be in the situation it’s in and obviously, the phone call happened over the weekend and we had a great conversation. We’re obviously on the same page now and we’re ready to move forward.”
Lozanovski agreed to return to the club as coach on the understanding that the club was ready to follow his leadership, not only in trying to survive this season, but also in the long term objective of building a team for future success.
“You know, as a football coach, we all live and die by our own decisions and our own results,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“The way I see it, I’ve been coaching for many years now and as far as I’m concerned, if I can’t do things my way, and the way I envision the club should move forward, and obviously lead the club in the right direction, then it probably won’t work. But the club’s ready to do that, which is great news. Hopefully we can get ourselves out of this rut. If not, it’s not just a short-term deal. It is a long-term deal. I’ll be there to do that. We have spoken about it. We’ve got a long-term plan.”
The coach is under no illusions as to the magnitude of the challenge facing his team, with Northcote City anchored to the bottom of the table with just a solitary point from eight games. He’ll have to defy recent NPL history to save City from relegation, with the records showing that in the last three seasons, the team on the bottom after round eight hasn’t survived the drop at the end of the season. But the coach says he’s up for the challenge.
“This challenge, when I really thought about it overnight, I thought it’s a crazy challenge. At the same time a lot of people out there may have thought I’m a crazy bloke. What am I doing this for? But like I said to Eric (Port Melbourne coach, Vassiliadis) when I decided to move on, the fire was in my belly. I felt I really wanted to coach again. If I didn’t have that feeling I probably wouldn’t have taken on that challenge. You need to have that burning fire inside of you to take this challenge on,” he says.
For now, he is trying to lift the morale of the team, and used the example of Adelaide United’s remarkable recovery in the A-League from an abysmal start to finish as minor premiers.
“I don’t think they won a game in the first eight games. So we’re in a similar boat to what they are. If they could do it, there’s no reason why we can’t. I try and look at the positives. The positives, as far as I’m concerned, are that there’re plenty of points up for grabs.”
A decisive factor in how the club fares this season is how successfully it can recruit new playing talent. The transfer window opens in six weeks, and Lozanovski says the club is in communication with agents and scouts out in the marketplace as well as current coaches whose roster might change.
“There will be players available, but at the same time they need to suit the Northcote way. Every player we bring into the club, there needs to be a plan with that individual, of obviously staying for more than one season. That’s obviously one of my goals. At the moment, the sort of players we can target are A-League youth players who have obviously been in the system for a couple of seasons. Hopefully they can step up if we can manage to grab a few.”
Coinciding with Lozanovski’s return, the club has announced the recent signing of three former A-League youth players, 19-year-old striker Braeden Crowley and 20-year-old keeper Blake Tuxford from the Newcastle Jets, while 18-year-old attacking midfielder Keenan Gibson arrives from Brisbane Roar’s youth team.