Hi, my name is Lucy Zelic and tonight on Thursday FC, the final edition for the season, we will be talking with rookie manager Sean-Paul Lodovico who has taken his Jets team from 8th all the way to a Grand Final spot in 4 months. Sean-Paul, welcome to the Thursday FC studios.
Thankyou Lucy for having me.
Let's get straight into the interview.
After a less than impressive start which saw your job security at a scary low, how sweet is the feeling to be in the Grand Final?
It's incredible to say the very least. I'm not ashamed to admit that at one point, I was 1 result away from losing my job. That 1 result turned out to be the season changer, and despite our shaky end to the season, we recaptured the mid season form and now we're here. Just goes to show what a bit of resilience can do.
Has there been any specific training ground method that has been the inspiration behind this turn of form or is it more a question of how your squad has started to gel as the season goes on?
Well I like to give my assistant the reigns at training mostly, and the training hasn't changed too much, but I believe the real game changer for us was the change in tactics. One massive example was young Andrew Hoole. He wasn't working well at right back, so I added wingers, moved him up, and his form was a revelation. As soon as we changed tactics, the team clicked and instantly adapted and they need to be applauded for that incredible effort.
After the injury to Emile Heskey midway through the season you made the decision to import Greek striker Angelos Charisteas for a brief period of time. Both you could say are strong target men and is this a hint towards your tactical philosphy?
I definitely love to work with target men, Lucy. They just embody everything I love in a player; they're strong, bring others into the game, and they can simply turn a game just being there. Charisteas did his job well and I feel it was a good signing, and when Emile calls it a day, I'll be looking to bring in another target man for sure.
Another bad injury to your side was the one suffered by Craig Goodwin, a promising prospect out on the left. Is he going to find it hard to earn his spot back in the side due to your recent form?
No, no, Craig will definitely be returning to the first team next season. He has almost fully recovered from his injury, unluckily not in time for the Grand Final, but as Alex Henshall will be returning to England, Craig will definitely be back in action next season.
This wave of great form really originated from January onwards, is there any reason why this is?
Without a doubt the change in tactics was a huge, huge difference, but also the last game of 2013, the 3-0 win over the undefeated Sydney FC, spurred us on. It gave us the confidence that we could do really well and that confidence hasn't yet stopped growing. We're hoping we can replicate that win over the Sky Blues in the GF against them.
If you do triumph in the final coming up, what can we expect to change next year, if anything at all?
Well, the reason I haven't done too much transfer business is because I have trust in the players, and also because we have such fantastic youth side. I think some change will be needed, maybe some fresh faces. But not too much will change.
If you don't, what can we expect?
We can expect normal business, to be honest. Don't get me wrong, it's been an incredible run, but this is exceeding expectations set at the start of the season so even if we lose, we can build and hopefully win next year and make an impact in Asia.
Do you have any idea of if you want to venture on to the European football stage, or are you committed to helping the local game grow?
I'm currently in contract talks with the club, and I think I would like to stay on for a few more years and nurture this current crop of fabulous youngsters at the club. But after that, who knows? I would love to manage in Europe.
What mentality are you going to be sending your boys out with going into the Grand Final? Any wise words up your sleeve?
I want the boys to treat it like any other game. Of course there are going to nerves, its the biggest match of their lives for some blokes, but it's my job to keep them on their feet and focused on the task at hand, which is winning and playing our game.
What are your own predictions for the final? How do you think Sydney FC will go into the match tactically?
I think it will be a very tight match, that is certain. We've become great exponents I believe of playing physical, defensively solid football whilst Sydney FC are more technical and free flowing. This contrast in styles makes for a very, very good match. i don't usually like to comment on results, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this one go to penalties.
Finally, who did you support as a kid? Do you have any ambitions to manage them one day?
Growing up in Poland, with my mother being a proud Pole, I learned to love Legia, and one day I'd love to go back to Poland and manage them.
Thankyou for joining us, Sean-Paul.
It's been my pleasure Lucy.
That was Newcastle Jets manager Sean-Paul Lodovico, speaking to us ahead of the Grand Final clash with Sydney FC. Make sure to catch the final on SBS, where you can see it live and free! Next on Thursday FC.....
Thankyou to Walter for conducting the interview, and as a customary little treat, here's a plug for his troubles. Oriental Lisbon- One Step Closer Give this wonderful story a read.