Why Jets fans should be positive and optimistic about the future

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We’re into the home stretch of the 2018/19 A-League season with eight games remaining, and the Jets’ finals hopes are looking bleak. Despite an underwhelming run in the league this season, Jets fans should remain hopeful about this new era under Ernie Merrick.

If you’re a Jets fan and you feel disappointed about the team and their results right now, take a moment to remember how shit the Jets were only two seasons ago. If you can’t remember, that’s just your brain deploying a defence mechanism to cut out any memories of the Jets post-2008.

It’s easy to compare the Jets’ 2017/18 season to this one, and determine that the Jets have regressed terribly. Last season felt like an amazing flash in the pan; teams weren’t prepared to take the Jets seriously. Now the side are suffering a mild case of second album syndrome, and the Jets seem to be forcefully trying to recreate the magic of last year.

The Jets have been trying too hard, especially in attack.

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Offensive moves aren’t flowing effortlessly, and players like Roy O’Donovan and Dimi Petratos have struggled to hit a rhythm. Despite this, there are positive signs all over the pitch. With a little bit of perspective, there are many reasons why Jets fans should be excited about the future.

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Ernie’s empire

Ernie Merrick has taken up a very positive tactical approach in setting up the Jets. In almost every game in Merrick’s tenure, we’ve seen a very aggressive and high tempo play style. It doesn’t always work, because the Jets have been outscored against more formidable attacks this season.

Despite this, the intent is there, and we haven’t seen that style of football at the Jets for a number of years. The players have completely bought in to Merrick’s play style. Having an identity is important, because the Jets didn’t have one at all under previous managers. The names Scott Miller, Phil Stubbins and Mark Jones all feel like a distant and vaguely shit memory now.

Now when hear the name Ernie Merrick, an immediate philosophy and play style springs to mind.

Attacking, fast, and positive. The Jets have been lethal on the counter-attack under Merrick too, which is something the team could utilise more often against better opposition.

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The players care now

Jets players have more of a spine now. They’re more committed, work harder, and care more about the success of the club. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Nigel Boogaard, Glen Moss, Daniel Georgievski, Steven Ugarkovic and Roy O’Donovan are all hardworking leaders that set a great example for younger players looking to establish themselves in the squad.

Newcastle haven’t had this core of leaders in the past. There is a togetherness and team spirit about the Jets now. In the past, fans would just hope that Morten Nordstrand, Edson Montano or Milos Trifunovic were in the mood that day. Now the whole team works together to work for the result.

Not only do the Jets have a great core of senior leaders, there is a solid group of exciting young players coming through too. Joey Champness, Johnny Koutroumbis, Lachlan Jackson and Ivan Vujica to name a few. If the Jets are able to hold onto these guys, the future looks bright.

Building a foundation

It takes time to build a club that has the potential for sustainable success. That’s what the Jets are trying to build under Ernie Merrick. A team with a spine, an identity, a philosophy. This squad needs time to gel and learn from mistakes together as a cohesive unit.

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Last season was a springboard into the future of the Jets, and this season is bringing them to earth and establishing how difficult consistent success can be for a team like the Jets. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a consistently successful team in the A-League won’t be either.

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The club is building something we haven’t seen in years, and fans need to be patient and give Merrick the time to mould this squad so it can fulfil its full potential.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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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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