Elrich confident with preparation

Newcastle defender Tarek Elrich believes Newcastle's tumultuous off-season will have a positive effect on the team's 2009/10 Hyundai A-League campaign.

Newcastle defender Tarek Elrich believes Newcastle's tumultuous off-season will have a positive effect on the team's 2009/10 Hyundai A-League campaign.

After tumbling from Champions to cellar dwellers in the space of one forgettable season, the Jets surprised most pundits with a spirited performance in the Asian Champions League to become only the second Australian club to progress to the second round of the prestigious competition.

However, the Jets crashed back to earth following a humbling 6-0 thrashing by Korean side Pohang Steelers. Newcastle received another shock within 24 hours when head coach Gary van Egmond announced his sudden departure from the club to take up a contract coaching at the AIS.

After some hurried negotiations Branko Culina was announced as the new head coach and took over the coaching reins just three weeks before the start of the season. While Elrich agrees the off-season hasn't been the ideal preparation for a new Hyundai A-League campaign he and the rest of the squad, are concentrating only on the positives.

"I think everything that has happened has helped us gel as a team," Elrich said. "The Asian Champions League was great for us. Every game we got to play against quality opposition and we got some great results so that really helped build our confidence."

"We made a few good signings after last season. We got some players in like Sahso (petrovski) Donny (De Groot), Ljubo Milicevic, Angelo Costanzo and Fabio (Vignaroli), who all have big match experience and I think their presence really helped out the younger players in the squad and helped us get through to the second round and a bigger stage."

"So we can take a lot of the positives out of what we did and even the games we've played in the pre-season we feel more prepared than we have for any other campaign."

"I think we can give it a fair crack and every game we got better hopefully better than last year."

Elrich said the sudden change in coaches initially came as a shock but in the long run it has been good for the team.

"No-one knew anything about it when the game (against Pohang) finished, but these things happen in football," he said.

"But Branko had been here for a while and everyone has knuckled down and worked hard. Sometimes it is a good thing. Gary taught me a lot, especially in my position at right back, but Branko has come along and added some other aspects which will hopefully benefit my game."

On a personal level Elrich is confident he can continue on his stellar form from last season when he was the Jets' best player on the pitch and continue to press for representative honours.

"I was under pressure coming into last season and I had a good season," he said. "I had a few Socceroos players around me and it really helped and the guys we've bought into the club will help me out more this season," he said.

"But the key for me is playing consistently. I will go out there always giving 100 percent and if I am having a bad day I will just run my arse off and try to win every one on one battle."

"I want to play for the Socceroos in the future and maybe even look to overseas but unless I am not consistent it won't happen. So I like the pressure, I like to put myself under pressure to perform."