Hunter football legend Graham Jennings believes the Jets have lost their close community connection and engagement with the local Newcastle community.
The Jets are in crisis after owner Nathan Tinkler sacked a raft of players and members of the coaching staff, following a 7-0 rout by Adelaide.
The A-League club is currently without a chief executive or chairman and has recorded just one win this season.
Jennings, a junior with Hamilton Azzurri and Adamstown Rosebud in Newcastle, played over 80 times for the Socceroos in the 1980s.
The defender, who played for Sydney Olympic, Sydney Croatia, APIA Leichhardt and the Newcastle Breakers in the NSL, believes the problems at the Jets have built up over time.
“It’s just not something that’s happened over the last couple of months, it’s taken years in the making,” Jennings told FourFourTwo.
“When you look at recruitment policies, selections of players, selections of coaches, you just have to scratch your head.
"You look at the number of Jets players that have been released, playing at other A-League clubs, it’s a joke.
“I don’t believe players we’ve got we’ve treated them with enough respect. I don’t think we’ve played them in the right positions. Honestly there’s a combination of so many factors in there.
“I don’t believe there’s been a real community team as such. There’s a lot to be worked on there. I’m a teacher and I’d love to get them in the schools to do those personal appearances.”
A member of Australia’s Football Hall of Fame, Jennings retired from the game in 1994. The 55-year old now works as teacher in Newcastle.
Jennings believes there will no easy answers or quick fix for the Jets.
“People are saying sack Stubbins,” he said.
“So what happens, they sack Stubbins and they have to pay him out. They get a new coach in, they have to pay him. New owners come in and they sack everyone, so everyone has to get paid out again.
“I think it’s just going to be a long drawn-out process to either, firstly, if Tinkler is serious in what he wants to do and rebuild and that will include new staff. Or, we get a new owner and the same sort of thing happening.
“Recruitment, we buy a lot of young players, who are good investments. Connor Chapman, goodness me, he’s kicked on. You look at the combination, the mix. We’ve got too many young players and not enough older players.
“Now we’ve got older players, probably not enough younger players and in-between sort of players. I don’t know. Whoever is responsible for player recruitment over the last few years, the staff, have a lot to answer for.
“The thing is with Tinkler, he is the owner, so he can do whatever he likes.”
Jennings said he feels sorry for the Jets players.
“I’ve been there, done that,” he said.
“When it comes to their families, mortgages, wages. What opportunity have they got with the transfer window closing on Monday? If FFA come in and take over, they’ll probably want those players back. But if something else comes in they’ll probably want to clean the players out.
“The poor players are sticking up for what they believe in and I’m sure they all want success for the club, and they’ve been penalized for it. Getting rid of that many senior players as well makes a bit of a mockery of their rights to be there.
“It’s become like a state league rather than a national league.”comments