The only way is up. That’s the mantra emanating from Jets HQ as new owners, new coaches, a rejuvenated squad and a renewed community ethos come together to kick-start the long road back for last season’s wooden spooners.
Expectations won’t be excessive, naturally, with locals just wanting a professionally-run club allied with a competitive, well-managed side representing with pride their football town.
After the chaos of last year and five years since finals football, all’s in place for a much better year under new boss, former Fulham staff coach, Scott Miller.
That said; the first month will be hugely difficult with a horror draw handed to the Hunter outfit. Nobody said it’d be easy.
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THE BURNING QUESTIONS
· Can the Jets shock the big boys and take points in the first month?
· Will new signing Brazilian Leonardo have that much needed X-factor?
· How will Miller adapt to coaching in the Hyundai A-League against the wily Musky, Arnie, Poppa and Merrick and others?
LESSONS LEARNT FROM LAST SEASON
· Chaos off the pitch often leads to poor on-field performance
· Engaging with the local community is key
· Hire a quality manager who has the team’s respect
Dumped out of the Westfield FFA Cup, not in the ACL, all Jets have is the Hyundai A-League. And the Fixture Gods have done them few favours with four of last season’s top six set to face Miller’s men, including Victory and Sydney FC as well as away days in Wellington and at Melbourne City all in the opening month.
· Organisation across the back
· Desire and work-rate
· Lowered expectations, less pressure
· New strike-force needs time to gel
· Lack of hard competitive games in lead up to the season
Miller’s systems and philosophy is still somewhat of a mystery. With just one competitive game under the former Fulham man – a shootout loss to Perth in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 – it’s clearly a work in progress but Miller will want high energy and commitment.
What we do know is they will be hard to beat with a lot of structure and organisation with perhaps a 4-2-3-1 shape. They’ll be relying on the back four and screeners to ensure that they’re not as leaky as last season. That said, defence starts from the front and everyone will have a role in keeping the balance of the team.
POTENTIAL BREAKOUT STAR
· Mitch Cooper: we saw what this attack minded midfielder can bring to the team last season
THE FINAL WORD
If teams are built in their coach’s image, then the Jets will be more competitive, for sure. Well organised too and with a high work-rate.
And if they cut out defensive lapses as per last season, they’ll push teams all the way. By default, finishing higher than tenth will be a success.
But more importantly this season will be about the team regaining the trust and respect of the Newcastle community – which is already beginning to happen as the team forge stronger bonds with the area.
Can they ice the cake with a few wins here and there and give the fans something to cheer about?
Odds: Newcastle Jets
TAB Hyundai A-League Season 11 Championship Futures