Newcastle coach Phil Stubbins believes the Jets will be a stronger force next season as he hunts for goal scorers in midfield and attack to strengthen the playing group.
It has been a tough 2014-2015 campaign for the Jets, with only one win from 20 matches and the club plagued by instability and financial issues.
Five senior players and three members of the coaching staff were sacked in January following the 7-0 rout at the hands of Adelaide United, while striker Jeronimo Neumann also departed.
But the Hunter club has managed three draws in its past four A-League games and went down by a one goal to Sydney FC on Friday. Stubbins believes the Jets have turned a corner.
“You’d have to say we’ve become tighter as a unit,” he told FourFourTwo.
“We’re all committed and working extremely hard in striving to build a brighter future for the Newcastle Jets. Our last five games have been very closely contested with the players performing resolutely on each occasion.
“It’s not been a period that has brought the wins we wanted but the effort of the team has been sound. The players deserve credit for the way they’ve embraced the challenges through a difficult period along with the effective input and transparency of the staff.”
Stubbins said his men put in a “decent performance” against Sydney.
“They’d scored 19 goals in their last five games so losing to them by a solitary goal, would further vindicate our efforts defensively,” he said.
“We also played some good football on the night against a quality outfit and a marquee in Janko at the top of his game who was the difference on the night.”
The Jets have the worst goal difference in the A-League and have conceded a whopping 41 goals this season. But Newcastle has become tighter at the back of late and conceded four goals from their past four fixtures.
“The goalkeeper and the back four have provided some good displays of late but I’d say the whole team has become more accountable defensively,” Stubbins said.
“The midfield and attack has also taken on board the responsibilities attached to their defensive effort. We want to continue to be difficult to break down but we also want to become more effective in the front third.
“We haven’t scored enough goals to date but we’ll continue to persevere on improving our efforts in that area.”
Stubbins is aiming to add to the Jets’ sole win in the remaining seven games of the season.
“We want a continuation of improvement with the mindset associated to winning games of football,” he said.
“We simply want to do the best we can until the conclusion of the campaign. It would be great for the group and our younger players to secure some wins between now and the end of the season but more importantly for our supporters.”
Stubbins is contracted to the Hunter club until the end of the 2015-2016 campaign. The English-born coach is keen to stay on in Newcastle and believes the Jets will be stronger next season.
“I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity here at the Jets and I’d have to say the experience of my first season in the job has been invaluable education,” Stubbins said.
“There has been a lot learnt that’s for sure but I totally believe that we’ll be a much stronger force next year.
“I’ve now had the opportunity to assess many things added to which comes sufficient time to thoroughly plan for next season’s recruitment. This will allow for the chance to fulfill a roster that fits the team profile we want here at the Jets.”
The Jets have a number of players off-contract at the end of the season and so far only one new player has agreed to join the club for 2015-2016 – Adelaide United defender Nigel Boogaard. Adding goal scorers to the team is one of Stubbins targets if he is given the chance.
“We want players that are culturally the right fit for the Jets, players that have a work ethic in sync with our current group,” he said.
“They’ll need to be physically equipped for the contest of the A league with a good mental attitude of attaining their own personal goals too.
“All the top sides have got goals in them. Not just the striker but goals spread across the entire front line.
“You also need players from midfield scoring their fair share and the occasional strike from a defender so we are certainly looking for some additions that can help the team’s goal tally.”comments