Football: Coach Withe brings deep understanding of SE Asian game to United City

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Apr 04 2021 03:31 AM

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Newly hired United City Football Club coach Jason Withe enters the popular local club armed with extensive experience on the developmental, administrative and coaching levels, including stints mentoring clubs in both Singapore’s S-League and the Thai League 1.

Born on August 16, 1971, in Liverpool England, Withe boasts of a football pedigree, being the son of English national player and former Aston Villa forward Peter White, who scored the winning goal in Villa’s 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the 1981 European Cup final.

The appointment of the Briton, who earned his UEFA pro coaching license in 2006, was announced by UCFC on its social media accounts last March 30 and was hand-picked by the club’s Dubai-based general manager Eric Gottschalk, according to team manager Ace Bright.

Withe is the replacement for another Briton, Trevor Morgan, who was originally tapped to handle the renamed club, which used to be known as Ceres Negros FC until it was sold by Bacolod-based businessman Leo Rey Yanson in the middle of last year to foreign investors represented by Gottschalk.

Morgan, who was in Australia at that time, never got to set foot in the country due to the travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although not quite as successful as a professional as his father, Withe has had stints with clubs Telford, Stafford Rangers, Burnley, KPV Kokkola of Finland and English Premier League’s West Bromwich Albion, among others.

From 2011 to 2013, Withe was the director of football for Leicester City FC, which won the EPL championship trophy in 2016.

He has had fruitful stints in the Thai League 1, steering Police Terro Sasana to a league and cup double in the 1999-2000 season, managing the club until 2001.

Withe then transferred to Home United and piloted the Singaporean club to a runner-up finish at the close of the 2002 season with a record of 18 wins, 10 draws and five losses.

He is credited for being the architect of Thailand’s Under-23 squad’s six-game sweep of the 2001 Southeast Asian Games men’s football tournament, capped by a close 1-0 decision over host Malaysia in the finals.

Withe’s second return to the Thai League 1 wasn’t as quite as memorable as his previous stint, handling several clubs in various capacities, the last with Deffo FC in 2018.

Before getting the UCFC coaching job, the English mentor was coaching at the Junior Soccer School and League Singapore, a privately-owned youth soccer academy that handles over 3,000 youth players in various age group levels and organizes 12 leagues with 36 divisions.

Bright said that the reigning PFL champion was hoping that Withe could be in the Philippines as soon as the travel restrictions imposed by the national government authorities in charge of the virus crisis are eased.

“We don’t know when Withe will come due to the present lockdown,” noted Bright, who was anxious for the coach to come so he can familiarize himself with the club’s roster, which underwent a major overhaul, in preparation for the Philippines Football League and the AFC Champions League.

“It is really hard to plan because of all of the restrictions under the present restrictions.”

PFL commissioner Coco Torre announced that the league will kick off on July 17 while the AFC Champions League group stage was scheduled to be held in June.

UCFC is bracketed in Group I with Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, Beijing Guoan of China, and the winner of the playoff match in the AFC Eastern Group 2.4.