End of 2021/22 season report card: Newcastle Jets

-

The 2021/22 season has come to an end with a select few teams left battling it out in the finals for the championship.

After being one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, it’s time to evaluate how Newcastle Jets faired in this season’s A-League Men competition.

Season Summary:

Newcastle Jets have long been considered a sub-par side. The club’s most recent top six finish was at the conclusion of the 2017/18 season, and they haven’t held a piece of silverware since their championship in 2008. After a disappointing 11th-place finish last season, many had written them off before this season had even begun.

After a better than average start to the season with two wins, a draw and two losses from the first five rounds, Newcastle suffered one of the longest breaks in the league due to Covid. After 41 days without a match, the Jets were left scrambling to make up their missed games, leading to one of the most congested fixtures in the league.

Embed from Getty Images

The restart to Newcastle’s season was rocky with a mixture of results and no real consistency as well as squad illness and limited recovery time between games. Despite some rough patches, Newcastle showed at times what they were capable of with some outstanding wins to finish their season.

Despite the turbulence, one thing Newcastle always played with was heart. Entering the season with a completely rebuilt squad, new head coach and coaching staff, it was never going to be easy. However, Arthur Papas and his Jets were able to prove why they belong in the competition with some fantastic wins against championship-contending sides.

Despite a less than ideal ninth-place finish at the conclusion of the season, Newcastle improved on their last campaign and were one of the highest-scoring sides in the league.

Areas of Excellence: Finishing

Despite their ninth-place finish, the Jets were the third-highest scoring team in the league for the regular home and away season, finishing on 45 goals, behind top six teams Central Coast Mariners (49) and Melbourne City (55).

Newcastle’s top goalscorer, Beka Mikeltadze, scored a whopping 13 goals for the season and continued to challenge eventual Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren, who finished on 15 goals. Other notable goalscorers for the Jets included Valentino Yuel (6), Angus Thurgate (5), Olivier Boumal (4) and Daniel Penha (4).

Embed from Getty Images

Some of Newcastle’s best goalscoring games included two seperate 4-0 thrashings of Wellington Phoenix, a 2-0 win over Sydney FC, a massive 6-1 win over Perth Glory and a 3-0 win over Macarthur to keep their opposition out of finals contention. These results are proof that the Jets could compete with all teams in the competition, regardless of ladder position.

Areas of Improvement: Defence

Despite being one of the highest scoring sides in the league, the Jets were also one of the highest goal conceding sides in the competition. At the conclusion of the regular season, Newcastle had conceded 43 goals, just two less than what they scored, contributing to their ninth-place finish on the ladder.

Defence was a real problem for Newcastle this season and wasn’t near at the level of their attack. Captain Matt Jurman, Jordan Elsey and Jason Hoffman were at the forefront of Newcastle’s defence this season and copped plenty of criticism as a result of the number of goals the side conceded.

Embed from Getty Images

Plenty of individual errors contributed to the Jets lacklustre defensive tactics this season with poor passes and a lack of communication leading to silly mistakes and goals conceded.

Keeper Jack Duncan also played a role in the defensive errors that plagued his side, conceding a high number of goals and struggling to communicate effectively with his defenders.

As one of the highest scoring teams in the league, a stronger defence could have potentially seen the side make the finals.

Top Student: Daniel Penha

There were a number of players that stood up for Newcastle throughout the season, including the likes of Beka Mikeltadze and Angus Thurgate. It is, however, hard to look past the efforts of Brazilian playmaker Daniel Penha.

Not only was Penha the Jets leading assist maker, but he also topped the league for the regular season, finishing on 11 assists. If not for suspension, Penha would have more than likely collected the Johnny Warren Medal, awarded to the season’s best player.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite Brazilian players having a very hit-and-miss relationship with the A-League Men, Penha broke the mould and proved to be one of the season’s best players. He is well known for his ball skills and ability to split defences open with his precise passing.

Penha’s overall attacking play and style is outstanding and he has the flair and creativity to create chances when all seems lost. Not only did he top the league for assists, he also contributed four goals of his own to the Jets whopping 45 total.

Without Penha on their side, it could have been a very bad season for the Jets, and if the rumours are true, he will be sorely missed by the side next season. 

Class Clown: Jack Duncan

This season, the Jets conceded 43 goals, the most since their 2016/17 campaign during which they conceded 53. Whilst the onus isn’t completely on Jack Duncan to stop these goals, he does play a large role in the net’s defence.

One of the worst conceded goals this season came in the Jets 2-1 loss to Western United in March. United’s second goal came from a set-piece in which a lack of communication between captain Matt Jurman and Duncan saw Leo Lacroix handed an empty net to shoot towards.

Embed from Getty Images

Due to injury, Duncan was replaced by keeper Michael Weier for six matches throughout the season in which he conceded eight goals but also managed two clean sheets. Duncan doubled Weier’s clean sheets (4), however, did so in over double the number of matches.

With so many goals scored throughout their campaign, the Jets had the potential to be finals contenders, however, with such a large number of goals conceded, this wasn’t to be the case. As the side’s goalkeeper, Duncan plays a large role in the number of goals conceded and may have cost Newcastle a spot in the finals. 

Grade: C+

Outlook:

Despite question marks lingering over the heads of a number of key Newcastle players, with Papas remaining at the helm, Newcastle fans should be confident in the platform they have created going into next season.

After already improving on their 11th-place finish last season to finish ninth at the conclusion of this season, the Jets have proved they have what it takes to be a competitive side. Scoring a whopping 43 goals, Newcastle were one of the top goalscoring sides this season.

Embed from Getty Images

As shown this season, the Jets are confident in signing overseas talent and turning them into key players for their side. Despite the likelihood of some of their top performers moving on, there will be room for talented fresh faces to take their place.

With a steady foundation beginning to form, Jets fans should be excited for what’s to come for the men in gold for the 2022/23 season.

Feature Image Credit: Sproule Sports Focus

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Grace Clegg
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Communication (News Media and PR) at the University of Newcastle. Coffee addict.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required