Bridges: Jets 'massively underachieved'

Retiring Newcastle attacker Michael Bridges admits the Jets massively underachieved this season and that the playing squad needs to have a long hard look at itself.

But he said the club’s season turned around with Clayton Zane’s appointment and the introduction of a new style of play.

And he believes Newcastle could have done some damage had they reached the A-League finals.

“We had a great run towards the end of season, we put a few games together,” Bridges said.

“We gave ourselves a really good chance. But it was too little too late. If we had made finals we would have had a really good run.

“Things really picked up and started to go right when Clayton came in. The way Clayton spoke to the players was a lot more simplified.

“A lot more chances were created. The players wanted to break through a brick wall for him."

Former Central Coast Mariners boss, Graham Arnold, will reportedly take the reins of the Jets early next week with support for Zane to be his No 2.

The Jets finished in seventh place, two points off sixth-placed Adelaide United after recording 10 wins, six draws and 11 losses in the 2013-2014 campaign.

It is the fourth season in a row that the Jets have missed the finals, with finishes of eighth, seventh and seventh since 2011.

“We massively underachieved,” Bridges said.

“The squad we had is sensational. Unfortunately due to injuries and the style of play it didn’t quite mix early on.

“We just started to gel when (Joel) Griffiths and (David) Carney arrived. We all have to take a long hard look at ourselves.

“We’re all to blame. We had a good blend of youth and experience. Griffiths and Carney made a huge, huge difference. It’s a bit disheartening.”

Bridges made 13 appearances for Newcastle this season, scoring one goal and recording one assist.

The former English Premier League star joined the Jets in 2009 and in total played 66 games and scored 12 goals for the Hunter club.

Bridges last game of professional football was the Jets 2-0 win over Adelaide, after a 19-year career that started with Sunderland in 1995.

The 35-year old said the decision to hang up the boots now was an easy one to make.

“The time was right,” Bridges said.

“I was ready for it. There’s more to life than football. I’ve had 20 great years. I didn’t want to go out on a low. I’m just pleased to be able to finish on a high after the past few results.”

Bridges is currently finishing his B license and will stay involved with the Jets as coach of the club’s youth team and as a first-team assistant. He also does media work for Fox Sports and is part owner of a bar on Newcastle’s Darby Street.

Although he recently passed his Australian citizenship test and plans to stay in Australia, he also harbours an ambition of one day managing his former club Leeds United.

“I’ve found a home here in Newcastle,” he said. “(But) it’s a dream of mine to manage in the UK.”