Monday, January 26, 2009

A-League season 4 review, Newcastle Jets

It starts at the top

LIKE Sydney FC after season one, the seeds of this seasons demise for Newcastle were sown shortly after their v3 victory, with a succession of key personnel departing, most notably Musialik, Durante and Bridge. Like Sydney in season two, their replacements just weren’t up to the task, and in truth, the clamour to ‘jump ship’ throughout the season underlined what must be some deep issues within the club. Indeed, the sight of the club’s chairman on the victory podium after last season’s success dropped a hint on where the problems might start.

The work of the manager, widely lauded over the past two seasons, particularly on this blog (for example here and here), was disappointing to say the least. The van Egmond honeymoon is well and truly over, and he must now take-stock and have a massive re-think on the way he does business ahead of the ACL campaign.

While his out-bursts at officialdom are almost par for the course for managers these days, his treatment of the likes of Hakansson, Patafta and Jesse Pinto was far less acceptable, and painted him in a far from complimentary light.

While circumstance rarely allowed him to field a consistent 11, leading to inevitable frustration, his inability to “find a solution”, something that was a hallmark of his work in 2006/07 and 2007/08, was telling. While the defence was leaky, in truth the biggest problems were an inability to find a midfield boss and a functional front third. With Bridge gone, Zura failing to settle (the whole saga was poorly handled by the club), Song struggling to handle the physicality of the league, too much of the burden fell on Joel Griffiths, who, with a bunch of kids for support, soon became a sitting duck for the opposition.

The miracle is that there were still a couple of outstanding contributors this season, most notably the flying fullback come front-third “option”, Tarek Elrich, and the outstanding youngster Ben Kantarovski, who appears to have a big future (we hope).

Another to do well this season was Jobe Wheelhouse, cleverly converted into a defensive player after failing to impress higher up the pitch in past seasons. The consistent Matt Thompson was one of few bright points, especially when moved higher up the pitch.

It is with these few pluses that van Egmond must start building the next campaign, and great starting point, as it proved for both Adelaide and Melbourne, is the ACL. The more technical nature of the competition might just suit the style van Egmond and the Jets like to play, and a player like Song could well regain some confidence.

The biggest issue though is the mass exodus of players that threatens to leave the likes of Elrich and Kantarovski as the most experienced. After the departure of Musialik, Durante and Bridge last season, the likes of North, Holland and Zura this season, and the impending departures of the Griffiths brothers and Milligan, what’s left?

A season or so ago, when Durante, Musialik and Bridge were negotiating, Con Constantine made public his views that players are expendable, an attitude that has seen the club’s stocks decimated. The rebuilding process may well need to start with the attitude at the top.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe i missed something ... but how exactly again did newc miss out on all three of bridge, musialak and durante?

losing 1 would have been expected, 2 possible, but all three? that was a shock.

and nothing coming out of there newswise recently makes it seem like any lessons have been learned.

it could get very very bad down newcastle way ...


ps. sorry, but can you remember once upon a time when kaz patafta and kristian sarkies were the future of aussie football? hehe, it seems a long time ago now.

Tue. Jan. 27, 01:15:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is going on with Kaz? hardly saw any game time at Victory and even less at Newcastle. He's always impressed when on the field, especially given his limited match time.

Wed. Jan. 28, 10:57:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said... could get very very bad down newcastle way ...

yes clayton, massive concerns, and thats why i reckon it starts up top... sorry, but can you remember once upon a time when kaz patafta and kristian sarkies were the future of aussie football? hehe, it seems a long time ago now...

....what is going on with Kaz? hardly saw any game time at Victory and even less at Newcastle. He's always impressed when on the field, especially given his limited match time....

clayton, sarkies has had quite a bit of game time of late, dont you reckon? a little too much to my mind...for me he still struggles a bit, but at least he's now getting games, which can only be to his long term benefit, and it might eventually snap him into line...

As for patafta clayton and anonymous, it's a tough one...quite clearly he isnt suited to the physicality of the a-lg, and gve and patafta have both been on the record as such...

Here's to hoping he gets thrown into the deep end in the acl, and that he swims...that might just give him some confidence, and that what he really needs.

Wed. Jan. 28, 11:16:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi tony,

in a way, constantine was right. players are expendable - IF you can bring in equivalent or better players as replacements. the jets, though, could not find adequate replacements for the players lost.

are they going to become a tragic perennial loser, attractive only to the most diehard fans and players not good enough for the squads fighting for the plate and the top four?

kaz is a mystery - like you said, he has looked impressive. and in doing so, it isn`t easy to see what negatives might be putting coaches off? is he so terrible defensively? don`t think so. does he not work hard enough for the team? again, don`t think so. so what is it? it isn`t age - kantarovski and holland were given more opportunity at younger ages. it isn`t size - mass murdocca, mike mckay, mike zullo, evan berger, the little guys are proving their worth in the a-league ... can he really stay with newcastle after this season, if not where should he go? time is ticking.

sarkies has been playing more. but he looks like a solid a-league player/2nd tier euroleaguer. maybe a squad member but not a future national team first teamer who plays for a good team in europe. he strikes me as a natural talent whose potential was spotted early who just didn`t develop the way people thought he would. and i don`t think it was all his fault.


Wed. Jan. 28, 04:22:00 pm AEDT  

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