Culina: Jets a better team

Newcastle head coach Branko Culina says his side is a better team now than the last time the Jets played against Gold Coast United ahead of the return clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Newcastle head coach Branko Culina says his side is a better team now than the last time the Jets played against Gold Coast United ahead of the return clash at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The last time the two teams met Newcastle caused a stir by winning 1-0 and becoming the first team to defeat the Gold Coast and put an end to owner Clive Palmer's pre-season prediction of going through the season undefeated.

This time around the Jets have the momentum after consecutive away wins over Sydney and Adelaide and Culina believes his side is a much tougher proposition.

"The last time we played them they didn't show us enough respect and maybe rightly so as they were undefeated with three wins but I think this time they will be more aware of us so it will be a harder task for us," Culina said.

"But I think we have got a better team this time than when we last played them. We are better team now - I just think there is a different feel about our players at the moment.'

"If you look at the first goal we scored against Adelaide last week it is perfect example of where we are right now. It started off with winning the ball in the backline with urgency and was finished off with urgency with Thommo (Matt Thompson) throwing his body to tap the ball in the back of the net - in between that there was some unbelievable patience with 12 passes, interchanging of positions, movement, skill and a brilliant goal by a team that believes in themselves."

Aside from the players' belief in themselves, Culina said the change in fortune for the Jets was down to managing injuries to players and having virtually a full squad to chose his best team.

"We are all excited and happy with the way we have been playing for most of the year but I think the results in the last two weeks have been very encouraging," Culina said.

"We have won games that people didn't think we would win away from home against difficult opponents. We had never won in Sydney and we had only won once in Adelaide since the A-League started so we have achieved milestones and we are pleased with that."

"Last week in Adelaide was the first time all year that we had the opportunity to select the best starting squad. But I think the players realised it was not enough to just be playing good football - we had to back it up with results."

"It is all very well for people to be patting us on the back and saying well played - but now we are playing good football and getting the results and the players know that, realise that and enjoy that and it has brought the best out of them."

The Newcastle boss said victory in Sunday's match against the Cold Coast and in next weekend's home clash with the North Queensland Fury would be crucial to the Jets' run to the finals.

"These next two games at home are vital particularly when you consider how close the competition is. We could easily fall back to the basement or we could shoot up to fourth," he said.

"We have done something that not too many teams have done - win two games in a row away from home - but we haven't as yet achieve what the good teams have done and that is win three games in a row. Only Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast have done that this year. We have the chance to do that on Sunday and if we can do that it will really set us up for the run into the finals."