From The Courts To The Football Pitch

After spending the majority of his career operating as a leading football administrator, John Didulica’s transition from legal advisor to football manager marks the start of a new chapter in his professional life.

After spending the majority of his career operating as a leading football administrator, John Didulica-s transition from legal advisor to football manager marks the start of a new chapter in his professional life - the move from an off-field setting to one very much at the centre of the action.

A former legal counsel for Football Federation Australia and Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Footballers Association, Didulica has overseen significant reform, while also remaining actively involved on an international front as a member of FIFA-s Dispute Resolution Chamber.

His new role however sees him shift in a fresh direction, taking the helm of the football department at the Hyundai A-League-s latest expansion side.

“I think (my new job is) the other side of the same coin to some degree,” he said.

“I will be dealing with many of the same issues I have already dealt with in terms of ensuring compliance with contracts, ensure the salary cap is applied, ensuring player welfare is looked after, but doing so at a more immediate level.

“That-s what I see my role as, ensuring our football department maximises its investment that the club makes into its players.”

However, the role of Didulica and Coach John van ‘t Schip won-t simply be to construct a squad of 23 players to compete in the Hyundai A-League.

The duo must build a club, a culture, and an identity, a guiding philosophy which future generations will identify as the beating heart of Melbourne-s newest football team.

Didulica said he is aware of the importance carried by these seemingly intangible factors, which can ultimately conspire to determine a team-s destiny.

“It-s an extremely big challenge (to form a football club), there-s no question about it,” he said.

“If we had to do this from scratch, and nine other teams had to do this from scratch, it would still be a massive challenge, let alone doing it from scratch whilst seven other teams have had five years to get their respective houses in order.

“We are under no illusions that we are playing catch up but we need to remain focused that we are not building a club for one season, we are building a club for the next 10, 15, 50 years.”

One of Didulica-s early tasks will be to assist van ‘t Schip in identifying players with the capacity to excel in the coach-s intended 4-3-3 system, a formation and concept which has propelled clubs like Barcelona and Ajax into the sport-s stratosphere.

While Didulica acknowledged his role in player recruitment will primarily be administrative, he hopes to provide van ‘t Schip with guidance and insight into the inner machinations of the Australian football landscape.

“John (van ‘t Schip) has a proven and exciting way he wants to play football. He has been schooled in it for the best part of the last 20 years. That is what he can institute best and we need to assess how the players we scout fit into the system,” he said.

“It-s not a matter of signing 15 or 20 professionals and rearranging them on a chess board, its going to be about identifying what we need and somebody who can fill that role.”