Players turned interim managers

Wayne O’Sullivan played 37 times for the Central Coast Mariners in the first two A-League seasons, including their 1-0 loss to Sydney FC in the 2006 Grand Final. Over a decade later he made his coaching debut for the side, suffering a 2-1 loss to, you guessed it, Sydney FC. It was another former Mariners player who scored the winning goal, Matt Simon broke his two year goal drought. O’Sullivan certainly isn’t the first former player to become an interim manager, O’Sullivan of course will stay at the helm until the end of the season after Paul Okon quit, let’s take a look at the others.

Steve Corica
Steve Corica wrote his name into Sydney FC folklore scoring the winning goal in the 2006 Grand Final, he was also a part of the 2009-10 premiership and championship winning squad. However he didn’t fare well when he filled in as interim manager for the club in the 2012-13 season. Replacing Ian Crook for two matches before Frank Farina got the top job, Corica lost both matches, 4-2 to Brisbane Roar, and 2-1 to Adelaide United.

Craig Deans
Fast fact. Craig Deans holds the A-League record for highest win percentage as a manager with 66.67 per cent. Deans managed three matches for Newcastle Jets at the beginning of the 2011-12 season after the club sacked Branko Culina. He won two of those matches before Gary van Egmond became manager. Another Craig Deans fast fact, he managed more A-League matches then he played, only playing twice for Newcastle in the 2005-06 season.

Chris Greenacre
As a player Chris Greenacre made 84 appearances for Wellington Phoenix between 2009-12. As an interim manager Greenacre has managed 11 matches between 2012-18. He has had three stints as interim manager including five when Ricki Herbert left the helm in 2012-13, four in the 2016-17 season when he teamed up with Des Buckingham, and has once again occupied the position since Darije Kalezic left the club earlier this month.

Hayden Foxe
Between 2007-2011 Hayden Foxe made 33 appearances for Perth Glory and Sydney FC (where he won the 2009-10 championship) and after years of being an assistant coach, the red-head defender was giving the position of Head Coach of the Western Sydney Wanderers when Tony Popovic left prior to the beginning of the season. Foxe managed five matches, winning one and drawing four, before being replaced by Josep Gombau.

Stuart McLaren
Possibly the most obscure player turned interim manager on the list. Stuart McLaren played 34 times in the first four seasons for Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory. In the 2010-11 season he took charge of North Queensland Fury in their 2-0 loss to Adelaide United in Round 18.

Robbie Middleby
Robbie Middleby played 87 times in the first five seasons of the A-League for both Sydney FC and North Queensland Fury. Similarly to McLaren, Middleby was interim manager for one match in the 2010-11 season for the Fury, and just like McLaren Fury suffered a defeat, this time a 2-1 loss to Gold Coast United in Round 12.

Michael Valkanis
No one has managed more matches as an interim coach than former Adelaide enforcer Michael Valkanis. He played 56 times for Adelaide between 2005-2009 and was interim coach for nine matches for Adelaide in the 2012-13 season, only winning two of those matches. After John van’t Schip left Melbourne City midway through the 2016-17 season, Valkanis took charge of 15 matches including their elimination final defeat to Perth Glory.


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