Newcastle United Jets

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Season Guide
2018/2019

Newcastle United Jets

In


Lewis Italiano (gk) Wellington Phoenix; Matthew Riddenton (mid) Wellington Phoenix; Mitch Austin (mid) Melbourne Victory; Kaine Sheppard (att) Avondale FC; Jair (att) free agent;

Out


Jack Duncan (r) (gk) Al Qadisiyah; Riley McGree (sp) (mid) Club Brugge – end of loan; Wayne Brown (sp) (mid) Sutton United; Mario Shabow (mid) Central Coast Mariners; Patito Rodriguez (sp) (att) Moreirense;

Jets not only made the play-offs for the first time in 8 years last spring, but they went all the way to the match for the title and were really close to lifting the trophy. Having excellent first year in charge coach Merrick, the manager with most A-League wins to his name, lost only goalkeeper Duncan from his main squad this summer and Jets look stronger than they were last season. Two players were brought from Phoenix, Merrick’s ex-club, plus an explosive Victory winger trying to resurrect his career after a year on the sidelines and also two new centre forwards to provide cover for O’Donovan. With them Jets are the only A-League team to have 4 centre forwards available in their ranks and unlikely many others their depth in attack is impressive. Playmaker Vargas had the bad luck to break his ankle early last season, but before the injury and late on after his recovery he showed great talent and if he is to stay fit all year this term Jets will definitely be looking even stronger. With settled squad and nice mix between youth and experience all over the pitch Jets look very well balanced for the start of the season and if the health of the few key players remains good throughout the campaign Blue and Reds are expecting to improve on their number of wins and goals scored from last year. Ugarkovic and Champness were just two of several youngsters that had breakthrough seasons last term and both of them are expected to continue their progressive developments this year. Dmitri Petratos is another one flourishing under Merrick and the fact that he is given complete freedom in the number ten role brings out the best of him. It is also worth mentioning that Jets were the strongest attacking team from set pieces last season and this is likely to continue with Petratos really good with dead-ball situations.

Target


Newcastle hope to challenge for the title again and despite not looking like a team capable to win it at the minute Merrick’s men should be able to secure another top four finish and with a bit of luck they could even reach their second Grand Final in a row.

Season Review
2018/2019

№7: Newcastle United Jets

Last season’s Grand Finalists Jets struggled to repeat the same level of displays this term and in the end Merrick’s men missed out on the play-offs for ninth time in the last 10 years. With the team’s only typical centre forward O’Donovan suspended for the opening 8 rounds it was no surprise that Jets struggled for goals early in the season and won just 2 of those games, while losing 4 times. From that point on the team had to play catch up and when 2019 started with 4 defeats and just 1 win in the first 6 games the damage was already done. By that point it was obvious that the summer arrivals Jair and Sheppard were pretty useless and neither of them provided the much needed support for O’Donovan in attack. This combined with the fragile health of Vargas (had 3 minor injuries during the season) and the poor overall campaign from Petratos easily explains why Jets struggled to win many games in which they actually dominated. Ugarkovic was arguably the best inner midfielder in the entire league and his calm presence in that area allowed Jets to boss many of their games, especially at home, but lack of cutting edge prevented them from earning more. With just 2 of their 9 league wins against sides that actually made the play-offs Jets clearly showed that the combination of slow and ageing defence + lack of quality in attack was too much for them to be hoping for more this season.


Player of the Season: Steve Ugarkovic

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