Newcastle Jets Analysis

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The following article was written by Jet’s follower Thomas Weber, who has a much greater faith in the fortunes of his team than any of The Football Sack‘s usual contributors. If you feel you have ideas which could make it onto our front page, do not hesitate to email in your thoughts (via the Contact Us tab). Enjoy!

Being a Jets supporter has never been for the faint of heart: inconsistent results, woeful player retention & an excruciating chairman who does his very best to undermine the professionalism of the Newcastle brand. Despite all these troubles the Jets have been one of the most competitive outfits in the A-League’s short history (reaching 4 out of 5 finals campaigns).

And regardless of what many pundits are saying, it wouldn’t be wishful thinking to suggest that this Newcastle side have the ability to still be challenging at the culmination of the season.

To say that this off-season was a positive one for the club, is telling, in revealing just how poor Newcastle’s retention of players and subsequent recruitment has been in previous seasons. That’s not to say losing captain and long standing servant of the club Matthew Thompson, as well as attacking midfielder Song Jin Hyung, isn’t an enormous blow.

Losing key players at the end of the year, however, has the become the norm in The Hunter. The crucial difference between this winter and previous, more barren winters is how successfully these players have been replaced, and crucially how early the transfer deals were finalised.

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While Jeremy Brockie won’t set the world alight, he has shown flashes at his previous clubs that suggest he can cut it at this level. Newcastle have also picked up the much maligned Ruben Zadkovich, who is by no means a bad player. His versatility may be vital as the season goes on.

But what looks to be the Jets’ key signing of this off season is the capture of Kasey Wehrman, the ex-international returning to Australia after a number of years plying his trade in Norway. Newcastle fans will be hoping Wehrman provides the experience and intelligent passing in the centre of midfield that their club lacked at crucial times last season.

The last minute additions of Zhang Shuo and Marcello Fiorentini are relatively unknown quantities to Australian audiences. Hopefully they will add to what is a strong squad, with much greater depth than last year.

The Jets finally have experience and class in all three areas of the park, with new captain Michael Bridges up front, Wehrman in the middle and Ljubo Milicevic at the back. Add to that the skill and exuberance of Tarek Elrich, Ali Abbas, Ben Kantarovski, Labinot Haliti and Sean Rooney, and Newcastle look in good shape.

An obvious weakness is in the goalkeeping department. With Neil Young out for the start of the season, Ben Kennedy will be expected to do a job in goal. Despite his age, Kennedy certainly has enough experience at this level, however can be rather erratic, and the Jets’ early season form could well rely on which Ben Kennedy shows up – the hulking, but calm and collected shop stopper or the mistake prone youngster.

Whatever the results and however erratic the form, one can expect Culina’s men to play the attractive, passing game which has become the staple at Energy Australia Stadium.

Ins and outs for NJ:

Ins:
Jeremey Brockie (North Queensland Fury), Ruben Zadkovich (Derby County, England), Kasey Wehrman (Fredrikstad FK, Norway), Taylor Regan (promoted from Youth), Zhang Shuo (Persik Kediri, Indonesia), Marcello Fiorentini (Palazzolo, Italy), Paul Henderson(Sydney Olympic, Short term deal)

Outs:
Matthew Thompson (Melbourne Heart), Jason Hoffman (Melbourne Heart), Song Jin Hyung (Tours FC, France), Angelo Costanzo (released), Shaun Ontong (released), Jason Naidovski (released), Fabio Vignaroli (released), Donny De Groot (left mid last season)

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