Merrick tips Jair to grow in confidence following drought-breaking strike

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Newcastle Jets marquee attacker Jair scored his first A-League goal against Brisbane Roar in front of a home crowd on Sunday afternoon.

Jair was scoreless in five appearances before his goal against Brisbane, and his body language after scoring told the complete story.

He had last found the net back in September 2017.

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Pure euphoria.

Ernie Merrick praised Jair and his ability to round off the counter attack which was spearheaded and assisted by Dimi Petratos.

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“He struck it really well. He scores goals like that at training,” Merrick said.

“I think it’ll help him relax a bit and have more belief in his role in the team.

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Jair was beginning to face increasing criticism from fans and the media due to his underwhelming start to the season. The first goal always seems to be the hardest to score, and now Jair has the monkey off his back.

The two words ‘Brazilian’ and ‘marquee’ immediately trigger a burden of excessive expectation and hype. Fans want immediate goals, Ronaldinho-esque flair and flicks. Whenever a new signing falls short of this, the criticism soon follows.

Jair hasn’t set the A-League on fire, but has started relatively well and always shows high levels of effort and intent.

Adjusting to a new league, a new country, a new set of teammates takes time – and his debut goal may have just fast-tracked the acclimatisation period.

It wasn’t only Jair who scored his debut goal on Sunday against Brisbane. 25-year-old Englishman Kaine Sheppard also opened his account for the Jets.

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Sheppard was picked up from NPL Victoria outfit Avondale. Merrick was impressed by the youngster’s composure and positional awareness in the top level of Australian football.

“He’s settled down very quickly. He didn’t give the ball away much at all and he was in a goalscoring area when he needed to be.

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With Roy O’Donovan soon to make his return, Jair full of confidence, and Sheppard on the scoresheet, Merrick may have a selection headache on his hands.

“He’s giving me a decision to make regarding the starting 11 next week, and that’s what I like.”

Feature Image Credit: Sproule Sports Focus

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Harry Keating
Harry Keating
Intern at The Football Sack covering The Newcastle Jets A-League and W-League home matches!

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