The Newcastle Jets are once again in a position where Novocastrian football fans are scratching their heads and fearing the club is in serious trouble both on and off the field. Loyal fans are forgetting what finals football looks like and after a disastrous 0-4 defeat against the wrecking crew that is the Brisbane Roar when playing their fluent brand of football, Newcastle are winless. Even more of a concern is being accused by supporters and media alike of being spiritless and bereft of effort or endeavour.
No rewind button
Newcastle defeated Brisbane three times in season 2013/14 and the Champions clearly wanted to end this poor run against the Jets and did just that last Friday night at Hunter Stadium.
The warning signs came early, as far back as July when Brisbane were one of several teams to comprehensively outplay Newcastle in The Townsville football tournament. Then in August the Jets were dumped out of the FFA Cup by Perth with the eventual finalists disposing of Newcastle easily.
The fitness levels of the players were questioned then and they are being questioned now as the 70 minute mark of each game this campaign has resulted in Newcastle being overawed, overrun and overexposed. The Jets are conceding late goals and falling short as the legs tire and the heads drop. The physical and mental commitment of the first eleven was questioned today by local ABC Radio commentators Aaron Kearney and Craig Hamilton who labelled the performance against Brisbane as “totally unacceptable”.
The Novocastrian experience
Sporting teams from Newcastle are often remembered, right or wrong for sheer effort; positive results are a bonus. The mentality of Novocastrians has remained for decades that they are happy to shell out hard earned dollars at the turnstiles, as long as the players are giving their all. The moment this stops, the fans stay away. It’s a simple formula that is identical around the world in cities from Sheffield to São Paolo where the working class fans expect a working class performance. Roll up the sleeves and fight for every ball is what fans are demanding.
But as Henrique completed his hatrick with ease to finalise the 0-4 score line, the ten thousand plus fans were stunned. The next home game against the hated southern rival from Gosford will demand nothing short of a complete reversal of the impression the players left behind on Friday, otherwise the days of five digit crowd figures are over.
The Silence of the Roar
Crowds are different wherever you go and depend on which stadium you’re watching football in. Gosford is relatively quiet, Parramatta Stadium is deafening and Hindmarsh ebbs and flows depending on the tempo of the game and how dominant the Reds are on any given day. The paralysing silence that preceded and followed the full time whistle last Friday was pure fatigue, resignation and acceptance.
The Jets at present are not good enough, fit enough and are technically inferior to their opponents in the A-League. The loss of Johnny Steele who came to town with much fanfare and rumours that Edson Montaño will return to Ecuador could leave Joel Griffiths as the talisman once again carrying the can for Newcastle’s season.
Wanderers at the worst time
Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle United Jets
Saturday, November 22, 2014 at Parramatta Stadium 5:00pm
The Asian Champions are waiting for Newcastle this weekend and another defeat will leave Newcastle in bottom place with the F3/M1 derby on the horizon the following match day. At training this week the players have been making plenty of noise about playing for the shirt and competing for the fans. The long periods on the bench for Jeronimo and limited game time for Marcos Flores are confusing the fans as much as the appearance of Kew Jaliens at right back.
The shiny knight like armour of coach Phil Stubbins is under heavy fire and the sluggish appearance of David Carney, Adrian Madaschi and Taylor Reagan who look uncomfortable against quicker strikers is a further issue. The Wanderers are due a win, so this Saturday is critical for the beleaguered Newcastle Jets who remain our team, but not as we want them.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 1.Ante COVIC (GK), 2.Shannon COLE, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 7.Labinot HALITI, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Tomi JURIC, 10.Vitor SABA, 12.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Romeo CASTELEN, 18.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19.Mark BRIDGE (c), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 22.Seyi ADELEKE, 23. Jason TRIFIRO, 33.Daniel ALESSI, 35. Kearyn BACCUS
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (returns from international duty)
Unavailable: 11.Brendon SANTALAB (shoulder – indefinite), 34.Golgol MUBRAHTU (knee – indefinite)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 2.Scott NEVILLE, 3.Taylor REGAN, 4.Kew JALIENS (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Adrian MADASCHI, 7.Jeronimo NEUMANN, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Joel GRIFFITHS, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andrew HOOLE, 13.Edson MONTANO, 14.Billy CELESKI, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 18.Allan WELSH, 20.Ben KENNEDY (GK), 21.Sam GALLAWAY, 23.David CARNEY
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Scott NEVILLE (returns from injury), 11.Andrew HOOLE (returns from international duty), 16.Jacob PEPPER (promoted), 21.Sam GALLAWAY (promoted)
Outs: 12.Sam GALLAGHER (omitted), 17.James VIRGILLI (omitted)
Unavailable: 15.Josh BARRESI (knee – season), 22.Jonny STEELE (leave of absence)
You can follow David Mcgaw on Twitter: @socceroo85