How hectic schedule has re-ignited Newcastle’s campaign

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Newcastle’s wins over both Persija Jakarta and Melbourne City are the first time the Jets have strung together successive wins this season. Ernie Merrick wants his side to maintain that momentum in their Asian Champions League qualifier on Tuesday night in Japan.

The Jets managed a famous result against Melbourne City, defeating them 3-1 with a heavily rotated squad. Merrick made seven changes to the starting lineup that we saw against Persija Jakarta.

“Considering the number of changes and the quality of players that were left out, it was a really good performance,” Merrick said after the win on Friday night.

Tactically, the Jets took a different approach to the game than usual. The formation was compact and the Jets were happy to afford City lots of the ball. They proved lethal on the counter in the second half when Joey Champness and Roy O’Donovan delivered the one-two punch.

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“The ability of the boys to change their style of play was first class, and we only had one training session on it.”

This new approach to the game worked exceptionally well, and makes you wonder why the Jets don’t use this pragmatic approach more often.

“We’re probably trying too hard to score goals at times, but the system today worked well. I wouldn’t like to play that system all the time, but the boys did their job.”

Pragmatism may be the key to success for the Jets when they take on defending ACL Champions, Kashima Antlers, for a spot in the group stage on Tuesday night.

Many have said that the travel is likely to cause fatigue, but Merrick is certain that his squad can get up for a game that has the potential to be one of the most significant in the club’s history if they’re able to manage a result.

“I think we’ll be running on adrenaline because of the excitement of the opportunity to qualify for the group stage.

“Although it’s been a very hectic period, we’ve become very resilient, very strong, very tenacious and battle-hardened.”

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The Jets are now six points away from Wellington Phoenix in sixth place with eight games remaining, so a push for the finals is still mathematically on the cards in the A-League.

But before the Jets can dream about a finals push, they have the opportunity to announce themselves on the international stage by taking down the champions of Asia in Japan on Tuesday.

“We’re truly looking forward to it because it’s been a long time since Newcastle has been this close to being in the group stage.”

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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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