Newcastle Jets 2020/21 season preview

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With uncertainty clouding their coach, owner and future, can the Newcastle Jets overcome a turbulent start to the season and land in the clear?

Last season:
A-League: 8th
Finals: Did not qualify
FFA Cup: Quarter finals

They will win the league because…

It would not be the first time the Jets have stared adversity in the eye and rose to meet the challenge. Despite the off-season bringing the club’s future to the forefront of conversations, the hometown heroes have walked away from the pre-season friendlies with three draws and one victory under their belt, proving they are still here to fight.  

The 1-1 result against Brisbane Roar introduced new signing Valentino Yule and his attacking prowess with his confidence in the attacking half complementing Roy O’Donovan’s opportunist play style.

If the pair continue to work off each other’s strengths they have the potential to create quality goals this season. Not to mention the re-signing of the skipper Nigel Boogaard will add a much needed steadiness to team’s leadership.

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They will be cellar dwellers because… 

The red-and-blues are an inexperienced team with young players like Lucas Mauragis and Angus Thurgate moving up from the ranks of their youth team.

Even with guidance from senior players – Boogaard, Nikolai Topor-Stanely, Jason Hoffman – the Jets are still missing an all important game changing player to steer the direction of the squad. Without the financial means to fill the shoes of x-factors like Wes Hoolahan, their style could become predictable and almost too easy for their opponents to counter.

The Jets will also start the season with interim coach Craig Deans, but without a guaranteed coach to take the reins any mid-season changes could throw off the balance of the squad. 

Newcastle will need to work hard this season to not allow external factors impact their morale.

The off-season brought

Instability. 

Former coach Carl Robinson and midfielder Bernie Ibini have parted ways with the Jets to join Western Sydney Wanderers. Football Australia decided to revoke the license of club owner and absentee chairman Martin Lee.

As it currently stands, prospective buyers for Newcastle have withdrawn their interest. These financial hardships almost saw the collapse of the Hunter football scene for this season but with some good fortune, other A-League club owners have agreed to bail out them out for an interim period.

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Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

As of July, the Jets have maintained their lead in the long standing F3 Derby against the Central Coast Mariners.

In 50 A-League games the red-and-blues have won 17, the Mariners 15 and 18 of those were draws.

Key player

Steven Ugarkovic will be a vital piece to Newcastle’s defensive structure. The tenacious midfielder joined the team in 2015/2016 and has since worked tirelessly to secure his spot within the team’s core.

He managed to take the pitch in every game throughout the 2019/20 season, distributing 1008 pass attempts with 85 per cent being successful. He is the heart of team, best with the ball and will be a stronghold for the squad. 

One to watch… 

Angus Thurgate. The Port Macquarie junior is a rising star in his hometown Hunter community. The 20-year-old made his first appearance for the Newcastle Jets in 2017/18, off the bench in a 1-0 win against Brisbane Roar.

In 2019/20 he scored in two consecutive matches against Western United and Western Sydney and will be critical in creating opportunities for the attack as proven in the preseason friendlies against Roar, where his midfield partnership with Ugarkovic married well for O’Donovan and Yule.

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INS: James Donachie, Ramy Najjarine, Joe Champness, Valentino Yule

OUTS: Dimitri Petratos, Abdiel Arroyo, James Donachie (Loan), Matthew Millar, Nick Fitzgerald, Joe Champness (Loan), Bernie Ibini

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Lewis Italiano, Noah James

Defenders: Nigel Boogaard, James Donachie, Jason Hoffman, Lachlan Jackson, Johnny Koutroumbis, Patrick Langlois, Michael Neill, Connor O’Toole, Nikolai Topor-Stanley

Midfielders: Benjamin Kantarovski, Joe Ledley (TBA), Kosta Petratos, Jack Simmons, Angus Thurgate, Steven Ugarkovic

Forwards: Lucas Mauragis, Roy O’Donovan, Yerasimakis Petratos, Valentino Yule

Feature image credit: Sproule Sports Focus

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Jemma Pepper
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2020/21 season. Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (Germany) at the University of Technology Sydney. Seven days without playing football can make one weak!
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