Ernie Merrick makes bold top six prediction

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Newcastle Jets head coach Ernie Merrick still believes his side can make finals despite being 10 points outside the top six.

In fact, the Jets’ boss feels his side will “definitely” play finals football this season, a bold prediction after the weekend’s action.

Newcastle had a chance to bridge the gap between themselves and sixth placed Adelaide United in round 14, but Merrick’s 10 man squad came away with no points after losing 1-0 to Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium.

An own goal was conceded by the Jets side late in the first half and with only 10 men after Jason Hoffman was controversially sent-off, it was always going to be hard for Newcastle to come back with three points.

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Merrick admitted that Sydney FC was the better team throughout the match, shutting down the midfield effectively and deterring Newcastle’s attacking chances.

“Our midfield weren’t controlling the play and couldn’t provide much service forward. Our best service forward was in the first 20-25 minutes, after that we really struggled to create many chances.

“I don’t think we played good enough football to win today, whether we had 10 players or 11.

The Jets coach admitted that losing the three points was not ideal at this point in the season.

“It just puts us in a position where the sixth place is going to be further away from us and that’s occurred not in one game but in several games, games we should have perhaps won.

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Although Merrick was disappointed with the final result, he still believes his team has what it takes to climb up the ladder and reach a top six position.

“It’s a case of getting a run of three games, three wins, and that changes things enormously.

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“I still feel that we’ll definitely make the top six and play in the finals but this puts more pressure on the players to perform.

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If the Jets had bagged the three points against Sydney FC, they could’ve bridged the gap between sixth and seventh place to a more manageable seven points but they instead sit a massive ten points behind Adelaide.

The hectic schedule for Newcastle will see them play four games in the next two weeks, with Merrick and his men hoping to get some points starting with bottom of the table Central Coast Mariners on Wednesday.

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Lani Johnson
Bachelor of journalism student from the University of Sydney covering Sydney FC. Passionate about writing and football.

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