Newcastle Jets coach Phil Stubbins has refused to use the club’s brutal schedule as an excuse for Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Perth Glory despite facing the two longest trips in domestic football in consecutive weeks.
The Jets have played their opening four fixtures of the A-League away from home, as Hunter Stadium gets re-surfaced ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup.
Stubbins admitted the situation wasn’t ideal, but said “it is was it is”. However, it would be reasonable to understand his frustration that the club have faced consecutive away trips to Wellington and then Perth amid that run.
The Newcastle coach, though, wasn’t keen to get caught up in the scheduling discussion, insisting he was proud of the group but stating he felt they needed to address mental frailties which had cost them against Perth.
“(The scheduling) was (an issue) when I woke up this morning at 5am, with the time difference,” Stubbins joked.
He added: “To travel like we have, to go to Wellington and then Perth is a pretty substantial challenge.
“It’s been very difficult for us and as a credit to the football club, we’ve gone out there with a real pride attached to how we try to take to the pitch. I think we’ve played in a way which befits the club.
“But there’s issues we need to deal with mentally to improve the group, but we’re on the right track.”
Stubbins pointed to the side’s inability to close out the game, after hitting the lead on 74 minutes thanks to Jeronimo Neumann’s strike. The Jets boss said they had “shot themselves in the foot” after going ahead.
He reflected on the Round Two 1-1 draw with Melbourne City, where they conceded a late David Villa equalizer as evidence of a greater issue.
“We get ourselves into a position where we hope to go on and win the contest, it’s clear now without believing you’re going to win the contest,” he said.
“Without having that real mental edge and resolve to last out the contest, you get found out and that’s what happened to us today.”
Stubbins, though, was bullish about the club’s prospects of bouncing back against Melbourne Victory at home next weekend.
The Jets will likely welcome back Marcos Flores and Scott Neville after being rested for the trip west, while Stubbins said Allan Welsh was “absolutely magnificent” in his starting debut.
Stubbins also confirmed Joel Griffiths was fine despite being replaced after a heavy knock to his right knee.comments