SYDNEY FC today finally filled their coaching hotseat after finding the answer under their very noses in the shape of youth coach Ian Crook.
Crook landed the job it seemed no-one else wanted after the former A-League high-fliers were turned down by a series of other applicants, including Graham Arnold, Gary van Egmond and Tony Popovic.
The club finally opted for Crook over the weekend after it became clear former SFC assistant Popovic - now first team coach at Crystal Palace in the English Championship - was unwilling to commit to the club.
Former Sydney FC veteran and current assistant coach Steve Corica is also understood to have been in the running but the Sydney board chose to go with Crook after his success at grooming NYL players like Joel Chianese and Mitch Malia.
Former Northern Spirit and Australia U20s assistant coach Crook, 49, has had a long history with Sydney, dating back to their A-League debut when he was assistant to foundation coach Pierre Littbarski.
He followed Littbarski to Japan before returning to the A-League to join Newcastle Jets briefly as technical director.
The Englishman returned to Australia after a year as first team coach with Norwich City - where he was a legend as a Canaries midfielder - to be Director of Coaching at Sydney Olympic before joining Sydney as youth coach last season.
Today he was unveiled as the club's head coach on a two year deal after a long search for a successor to Vitezslav Lavicka finally came to an end.
Although not the high profile name many were expecting, the news has been generally welcomed by Sydney fans.
“Sydney FC is pleased to announce Ian Crook as the Sydney FC Head Coach for the next two seasons,” said Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow.
“His passion for Sydney FC runs deep, he has an impressive coaching and football knowledge and he is familiar with the club and what we are trying to achieve.
“Ian already has an important place in Sydney FC history as a member of the coaching staff in our Foundation Season and he knows what it takes to help steer Sydney FC to success in the A-League.
“He has since picked up valuable coaching experience in Asia and England, as well as immersing himself in the Sydney football community while coaching the Sydney FC National Youth League and NSWIS squads.”
Crook, who was named 2001/02 NSL Coach of the Year with Newcastle United, is eager to return to the competitive environment of the Hyundai A-League.
“I’m thrilled and honoured to be named as Head Coach of Sydney FC,” Crook said. “This club is very special to me after being part of its birth and early success and since returning to Australia I have enjoyed working with the younger players.
“Over the last few months the competitive urge has been re-ignited inside me and after spending the last two seasons nurturing and developing young players the time is right for me to step back into a Head Coach role."
He added: “To get this opportunity at Sydney FC is fantastic and I can’t wait to start working on the pitch with the players, Steve Corica, Zeljko Kalac and the football staff to make sure we get Sydney FC back where it belongs.
“We have a lot to do but I’m excited about working with Gary Cole (Football Director) on our recruitment and retention to bring success to the Club and a team that the Sydney FC fans can be proud of.”
The appointment has been endorsed by past and present English Premier League managers Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill as well as former Sydney FC greats Pierre Littbarski and Dwight Yorke.
Sydney FC Captain Terry McFlynn, who was also a member of the Sydney FC 2005/06 Foundation playing squad believes, has also applauded the move.
“We’re delighted that Crooky has been appointed as Head Coach,” McFlynn said. “He has huge respect among the players who know his standing in the game.
“His coaching sessions are first class and whenever he has stepped in the boys have thoroughly enjoyed working with him.
“He knows what is required to be successful at a club like Sydney FC where pressure and expectation is high and we look forward to having him lead us into the 2012/13 season.”