The 2015-16 A-League season is just around the corner and The Blog FC is previewing all ten sides. A tumultuous campaign last term for Newcastle Jets left them in disarray, and Joey Ratcliffe looks at what the future has in store for the Novocastrians.
Manager: Scott Miller
Captain: Nigel Boogard
Ins: Nigel Boogard (Adelaide), Themba Muata Marlow (Sydney FC), Cameron Watson (Adelaide), Jason Hoffman (Melbourne City), Lachlan Jackson (Brisbane), Milos Trifunovic (Radnicki Nis), Labinot Haliti (Western Sydney), Mateo Poljak (Western Sydney), Leonardo (unattached), Mark Birighitti (Varese, end of loan)
Outs: Andrew Hoole (Sydney FC), Max Burgess (Sydney FC), Scott Neville (Western Sydney), Travis Cooper (Adamstown Rosebud), Allan Welsh (Adelaide Comets), Jacob Pepper (Western Sydney), Taylor Regan (released), Jess Vanstrattan (retired), Sam Gallagher (Österlens FF), James Virgili (released), Zenon Caravella (retired)
Last Season: 10th
2014-15 was… A disaster from the start and eventually ended in the wooden spoon and a change of ownership.
As far as football clubs go, it couldn’t have been much worse for the Jets. Their owner, Nathan Tinkler, had his licence stripped by the Football Federation of Australia, they sacked their coach Phil Stubbins, a raft of players left mid-season, players weren’t paid on time and they only won three games. Ironically, two of those three matches were against Adelaide and Melbourne Victory, who between them won all three trophies on offer last season.
In November, the problems at Newcastle began to really surface when new recruit Johnny Steele had his contract mutually terminated because of a personal issue the club and player kept quiet.
In January, key recruit Marcos Flores agreed to terminate his contract and days later the club were spanked 7-0 by Adelaide.
Then the wheels really started to fall off.
In response, and possibly because of a rumoured player revolt, Tinkler culled captain Kew Jaliens, Billy Celeski, Joel Griffiths, Adrian Madaschi and David Carney.
Jaliens went to Melbourne City, Griffiths to Wellington, and Madaschi to Western Sydney. Carney, however, wasn’t actually released but Stubbins refused to play him for the remainder of the year.
Striker Jeronimo Neumann mutually terminated his contract in February and transferred to Tigre in his native Argentina.
In the end, Stubbins and Tinkler were gone as well and Carney made his way back to the team for this season.
Despite the issues, a couple of silver linings were the mid-season signings of Lee Ki-je and Enver Alivodic, who impressed and have been retained in this year’s new look Newcastle Squad.
2015-16 will be… Less traumatic than last but they will probably collect another wooden spoon, despite the troubles in Brisbane.
Scott Miller is their new manager and comes with plenty of coaching experience from Fulham FC. At only 34 and no managing history, it could be seen as a risk by Newcastle to have appointed him, but only the brave survive in football.
The Jets lost even more players in the off-season, including their best player last season, Andrew Hoole, who signed with Sydney FC.
Incoming, however, is also a lot of quality. They filled their remaining three visas with experienced players. Mateo Poljak signed from Western Sydney, Milos Trifunovic continues the league’s current love affair with Serbians and Leonardo joins as well, who was a key player with Ajax at a time when they had Luis Suarez on their books.
Their new captain is local product Nigel Boogard, who last played with the proficient Adelaide United.
But to improve on last season the Jets also need to match it on the park and in the back room. With so many upheavals last year and even more changes in the off-season, it’s doubtful whether the Jets can drastically improve.
Key Player: Leonardo. For most of the successful A-League clubs, the quality of your foreign players is usually the difference you hold over other teams. Dwight Yorke was that for Sydney in 2005-06, Fred for Victory in 2006-07, Carlos Hernandez for Victory in 2008-09, Thomas Broich for Brisbane in 2010-11, Beseart Berisha for Brisbane in 2011-12 and Fahid Ben Khalfallah for Victory last season.
The pedigree that Leonardo brings is similar to those names. The Brazilian played in the 2001-02 UEFA Cup final with Feyenoord when they beat Borussia Dortmund. The winger spent over a decade playing in the Eridevisie with Feyenoord, Ajax and NAC Breda.
He has spent the last four seasons at Austria’s Salzburg, Hungary’s Ferencvarosi and Germany’s second-tier 1860 Munich.
Leonardo is somewhat of an unknown quantity, but that means nothing when it comes to A-League recruits.
What, or whom, do Newcastle need? Harmony. After a tumultuous 2014-15, the Jets just need to stick together this season. Where they finish on the ladder shouldn’t be the marker for success this year. Yes, football is a results business, but when your club is on the brink of collapse there are higher priorities.
From the top down, everyone needs to work together and, importantly, get along. They threatened to eat themselves alive last season and this year they just need to survive without anymore internal problems arising.
The Blog FC Predicted Finish: 10th