Ben Kantarovski says this season at Newcastle has been akin to playing at a new club – and he says the Hyundai A-League outfit needed to make those changes.
Kantarovski, 23, who signed for the Jets aged just 15, has seen it all at his hometown club.
From A-League Championship highs in 2008 spiralling down to the lows of the Phil Stubbins and Nathan Tinkler era and the wooden spoon last season.
But life can change very quickly in football.
And right now, he’s struggling to even put into words how life at the Jets has been transformed under new owners (FFA) and a new coaching team of Scott Miller and JP De Marigny.
“We’re only going up… it’s like a clean slate. And even being here for so long it doesn’t feel like that at all [now],” he told reporters at the club’s corporate season launch on Wednesday.
“The club and me personally needed that, and you can only see it in the performance we had on the weekend.”
That performance – a gritty 2-1 in Wellington in Round 1 – showed the team spirit and resilience needed to push for a finals berth.
Looking ahead to Saturday's Round 2 blockbuster with Sydney FC, Kantarovski could be the one big positional change to Miller’s line up after captain Nigel Boogaard was red-carded in Wellington.
As a result, Kantarovski was thrown in as a makeshift central defender and could be asked again to again against the Sky Blues.
“We’ve got a little bit of depth there [in the defensive area] so it’s just a matter of making sure who Scott sees as the best fit,” he said.
“I’m comfortable playing there, it’s just a matter of whether or not the coach chooses to play me there.”
Sydney strikers like to play off the shoulder of defenders and play through the lines. A less direct approach to last season when Marc Janko lead the line.
For the Jets defence, it’ll be a challenge keeping the likes of Smeltz, Holosko, Brosque and Ninkovic quiet
“No matter who plays there, he’ll know the role. We’ve got 11 leaders out there on the field and we’ll all know our job,” Kantarovski said.
“We’ve made ourselves accountable… and if you want to do well you need to be defensively solid.
“And we’ve worked on that all through pre-season, making us hard to break down and hard to beat.”