There’s a new coach, a successful pre-season and new players beginning to gel for the Newcastle Jets. For once, there is true belief that the Novocastrian side can make a real impact this season.

Last season:
A-League: 10th
FFA Cup: Round of 32

They’ll win the league because…                                           
Miracles really do happen. In all seriousness however, this statement in previous seasons deserved to be laughed off. Certainly a league win for the Jets would be a huge shock and is not at all what they’ll be aiming for, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility as it has been previously.

Coach Ernie Merrick is a smart and astute manager who builds a strong group mentality and demands organisation and discipline. The Jets of recent years have usually showed no lack of effort, especially while they were still well and truly in the game. What they could be accused of however, is a lack of structure, particularly from the back.

Merrick himself has cited the lack of discipline at the back pointing to eight penalties given away last season. In an attempt to combat this a number of strong defensive reinforcements have been brought in including veteran keeper Glen Moss, former UEFA Champions League fullback Daniel Georgievski and returning stalwart Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

These new additions and others such as Roy O’Donovan and marquee signing Ronald Vargas will form what Merrick hopes will be a solid spine of the team and make them a threat and potential dark horse in the season to come.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because… 
They’re the Newcastle Jets and that’s what they’re used to. It’s a hard claim to refute given they haven’t finished higher than 7th in the past seven seasons and have finished with the wooden spoon in two of the last three.

The ownership group and executives have also yet to prove themselves to the Novacastrian faithful following such uncertainty in recent seasons. Parting company with Scott Miller, who many saw as a potential saviour for the club certainly didn’t relieve any trust issues. They seem to now have their man in Merrick and will look to him to rebuild the Jets back up from the basement boys they have been and into contention for finals football.

Talk around the watercooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
Ernie Merrick becomes just the third foreign coach to head the Jets in the A-League and the first Scot. He joins first season manager, Richard Money and the fondly remembered best mate of Nathan Tinkler, Phil Stubbins, both of whom hailed from England.

The offseason brought…
Hope. The Jets spruiked promises for a competitive season and a number of smart signings. After a series of friendlies against lesser opposition in the early preseason the Jets finished off their preparations with three solid wins against Melbourne City, Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix.

Promising signs for the season ahead but of course nothing can match the intensity of regular season games and that will undoubtedly show just how good or otherwise this side is.

Dimitri and Kosta Petratos, Moss, O’Donovan, Topor-Stanley, Vargas, Georgievski and Mario Shabow are astute signings with bags of experience and will bolster a squad that showed promised but failed to deliver last season.

Key player
Andrew Nabbout – The 24-year-old attacker contributed eight goals in 24 appearances for the Jets and proved an irreplaceable part of the team last season. He will look to have a similar contribution this year, particularly being surrounded by players of high quality who will raise his game.

One to watch
Ronald Vargas – If you’re looking for excitement this season, it’s hard to go past the marquee forward who joins from AEK Athens. While an unknown entity in the A-League the Venezuelan joins the Jets with European pedigree and experience representing his country at an international level.

Full squad list…
1. Jack DUNCAN, 3. Jason HOFFMAN 4. Nigel BOOGAARD, 5. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 7. Dimi PETRATOS, 8. Ronald VARGAS, 9. Roy O’DONOVAN, 10. Wayne BROWN, 12. Mario SHABOW, 13. Ivan VUJICA, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Nick COWBURN, 17. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 18. John KOUTROUMBIS, 19. Kosta PETRATOS, 20. Glen MOSS, 21. Daniel ALESSI, 22. Lachlan JACKSON, 23. Devante CLUT, 24. Joe CHAMPNESS, 25. Antonee BURKE, 29. Jake ADELSON,  44. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY.

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Living and studying in Newcastle. Pretty obsessed with football. Newcastle Jets and Chelsea FC fan