|By PADDY HIGGS
Chief editor - Australia
Adelaide United's search for a new coach may yet have a twist, with former Australia international striker Damian Mori believing he is still in the running for the role.
Two-time A-League title winner Ernie Merrick has emerged as the favourite for the vacant role, with the former Melbourne Victory coach back in Australia and available after leaving the Hong Kong national team post in October.
Goal Australia understands ex-Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg also remains a candidate, while Mori - declining to comment when contacted - did confirm he was still interested in the job and said he had not been informed he was out of the running.
The news comes after the coaching selection committee formed to put together a shortlist of suitable candidates disbanded over Michael Valkanis' re-appointment as Reds assistant coach.
Valkanis had been appointed interim head coach after John Kosmina's resignation in January, with the Reds bowing out of the A-League finals race on Sunday after losing 2-1 to Brisbane Roar.
Valkanis said on Wednesday he would not be pursuing the full-time head coaching job, preferring to return to an assistant role.
The committee had been formed in February, and had included former Socceroos and Adelaide City players Craig Foster, Alex Tobin and John Perin, as well co-owner Bruno Marveggio.
"It's strange how a club can announce an assistant without announcing their head coach first," Perin told The Australian.
"They're putting the cart before the horse and we've decided that we're wasting our time."
It continues a dramatic week for the Reds, who have been criticised in the Adelaide press by Kosmina and had veteran goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic publicly state his frustration on Tuesday at the state of the club's culture.
Galekovic again fronted the press on Wednesday and made it clear that the playing group was united: "The culture - we want everyone to be together again - the board, players, supporters, members. A few years back it was a very close group and that needs to start happening again," he said.