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United City owner Gottschalk explains Withe-Muescan coaching setup

Jason Withe has been named United City's "head coach" for the AFC Champions League.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Reigning PFL champion United City announced on Wednesday that it has tapped Jason Withe to be part of its coaching staff for the upcoming season.

However, with current mentor Frank Muescan assigned as a "caretaker" coach, many football fans thought Withe would be the new chief tactician.

Club owner Eric Gottschalk confirmed later in the night that at least for the AFC Champions League, that would be the case, although by name.

"He will be heading our team for the AFC Champions League," Gottschalk said in the Eat Sleep Breathe Football podcast.

The interview was released on Sunday night.

However, he clarified that Muescan will still be mainly calling the shots for the team formerly known as Ceres Negros along with playing assistant coach Stephan Schrock.

"We cannot expect from him that he knows the players very well, so the shot calling is still with Stephan and Frank," Gottschalk further said.

He then implied that Withe would be more of a de facto coaching consultant.

"He will give vital feedback," Gottschalk continued.

He then explained that they had to tap Withe due to something that he has but Muescan, despite his accolades, lacks right now.

"With us qualifying for the AFC Champions League, we needed a UEFA or Asian pro license coach," Gottschalk quipped.

The Englishman Withe, who was part of West Bromwich Albion's youth squad during the late 80's, got his pro license from UEFA in 2006.

This also explains why United City had to finally let go of Trevor Morgan, who despite being named the club's head coach last PFL season did not even get to step on Philippine ground mainly due to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite what the United City coaching staff really looks like right now, Gottschalk is bullish about what Withe can bring to the table.

"I think Jason is [a] tremendously established coach. You've seen his resume. He has coached on the FIFA World Cup and AFC Champions League level. He has experience on the national teams, and he understands Asian football," Gottschalk further said. "We have a licensed coach who... can give us advice that we might need from the outside."

Withe led Police Tero to the 2000 Thai League 1 title, earning the club qualification for the AFC Champions League the following year.

Police Tero actually won a domestic double that year as they too won the Thai FA Cup championship.

Withe also led Sukhothai to the 2016 Thai FA Cup title, although in a rare co-champion setup with Ratchaburi, Chonburi, and Chainat as the semifinals and the final have been canceled all along due to the death of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Sukhothai would go on to enter the 2017 AFC Champions League qualifiers after a special draw was made among the co-champs.

He was also part of Thailand's coaching staff in 2001 and Indonesia from 2005-2007.

The Withe-Muescan setup is similar to the coach-consultant setup in basketball that gained traction in recent years especially among foreign coaches due to restrictions set by the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines.

However, this setup came under fire recently due to the initial confusion that arose after Chris Gavina became Rain Or Shine's head coach and Caloy Garcia became the coaching consultant and head of basketball operations, which the team later clarified.

Despite the quirkiness of the said coaching staff assignment, Gottschalk is satisfied by it.

"We're very happy with the setup that we have internally in the coaching," he further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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