Robinson accepts Jets may need to adjust to include Hoolahan
Newcastle Jets boss Carl Robinson admits he may need to change his tactics to get the best out of returning marquee star Wes Hoolahan.
The Republic of Ireland international made his long-awaited Hyundai A-League debut as a substitute in a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory in Robinson’s first match in charge at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
After the former Premier League ace was introduced in the 62nd minute, Robinson left Steven Ugarkovic as a one-man central midfield shield in front of his backline while Dimitri Petratos, Abdiel Arroyo, Roy O’Donovan and Hoolahan all joined the attack.
Although the ‘Irish Messi’ showed some signs of rust after four months on the sidelines with a serious ankle injury, the 36-year-old helped swing the game back in Newcastle’s favour during the final half hour.
“I can never have enough good players, I’m trying to add good players to the squad,” Robinson said.
“If you’re a good player, I want you in the team and we can adjust systems tactically.”
“The more good players I have in the squad, the more we’re able to perform like that against a good Melbourne team.
“Say what you want about the opposition, I like to focus on ourselves and if we continue to play like that and continue to build on that, add in a few better pieces, then we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
After Arroyo had two goals disallowed by VAR, one for the ball hitting referee Alireza Faghani in the build-up and the other for offside, O’Donovan finally broke the deadlock when VAR ruled in the Jets’ favour to confirm his strike had crossed the goal-line.
But the away side improved in the second-half and Swedish star striker Ola Toivonen pounced four minutes after the restart to punish a concentration lapse in Newcastle’s backline, which Robinson was not happy to accept.
“Sometimes you have to put your hands up. It’s a great delivery in the box and a good goal from Toivonen but, from a defensive point of view, we should stop that,” Robinson added.
“There was not enough pressure on the ball. We let a man who is very good in the box free, and he scores. “When you do that it deflates you a little bit so we lost our way for 10 minutes and then we regained it again.
“But it’s little moments in games where we didn’t have enough quality.”
Victory headed into Saturday's match only four days after a 1-0 AFC Asian Champions League defeat against FC Seoul in freezing conditions in the Korea Republic’s winter.
The draw in the Hunter extended Victory’s winless run to six Hyundai A-League games and, sitting in ninth place and nine points off the top six, head coach Carlos Salvachua insists their next two fixtures, both back home at Marvel Stadium, will make or break their season.
“Next games against Adelaide and Sydney [FC] are key in the competition,” Salvachua said.
“We need to win these points, we need to win games and I’m sure with the support of our fans at home it will be different.
“We need rest as well, we need one day off for the players and then with full training straight to start the game and build up in the next month.”
Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory
Saturday, 29 February
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 5pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Saturday, 29 February
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT