Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins says his side is hoping rather than believing it can win matches.
The Jets suffered their third defeat of the season on Saturday – a 2-1 loss to Perth Glory at nib Stadium despite taking the lead through Argentine striker Jeronimo Neumann in the 74th minute.
Glory substitute Jamie Maclaren then scored twice in three minutes to steal the victory from Newcastle’s grasp.
It has become an all-too-familiar scenario for Stubbins and the Jets this season, losing 1-0 to Central Coast in injury time in the opening round and being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Melbourne City a week later when Spanish ace David Villa scored a late equaliser.
Stubbs questioned whether his players had the right mindset when they find themselves in a winning situation.
“I think we get ourselves into a position where we hope to go on and win the contest,” Stubbins said.
“I think it’s pretty clear now that without actually believing that you’re going to win the contest and having that real mental edge and resolve about how you last out the contest, you get found out and you get punished, and that’s what happened to us today.
“We’ve worked very hard in trying to instil a belief into the playing group and I think looking at the culture of the club and where we’re at as a group, we’ve certainly improved but we’ve got a long way to go and that’s witnessed by a couple games in the fashion that we’ve lost the contest.”
Despite another loss – Newcastle’s third from four games this season – Stubbs was pleased with the way his side acquitted themselves, given it was the club’s fourth consecutive game on the road, including a clash with the Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand last week.
The Jets will host Melbourne Victory at the revamped Hunter Stadium next Saturday, but they won’t be able to train at the venue prior to the match because the pitch is still being resurfaced ahead of next year’s Asian Cup.
“It’s a bit sad for us that we won’t be able to get on the pitch prior to the match…but having said that it’s going to be great for everyone involved with the football club that we’re going back to Hunter Stadium,” Stubbins said.
“We’re looking forward to getting there and I think for Australian football and the A-League it’s going to be a real positive to have another surface in the same ilk as what you’ve got here (at nib Stadium).”
Stubbins said star playmaker Marcos Flores and defender Scott Neville would both be available for the Victory clash after being rested from the trip west as part of their long-term recoveries from knee injuries which sidelined them last season.
Adrian Madaschi (calf) is also in the mix, but Billy Celeski (groin) is still 4-6 weeks away from resuming.
Joel Griffiths is expected to be fit despite copping a nasty knock to the shin which forced him from the pitch in the second half against Perth.