Newcastle Jets coach Clayton Zane has said his side will train as if they have made the Hyundai A-League finals until the result between Sydney and Perth decides their fate.
The Jets kept their slim finals hopes alive with a stirring 2-0 win over Adelaide at Hunter Stadium on Friday night. Newcastle now needs Perth to have an upset win over Sydney FC and the margin to be two goals to snatch an unlikely finals berth.
“We will continue to prepare as if we are still in it,” Zane said after the win over Adelaide.
“We will back up with recovery tomorrow and we will continue to train all the way through to the grand final because the pre-season is so long.
“But our mindset is that we are still in it until proven otherwise.”
The Jets coach said he was pleased with his side's final display in front of their home fans after what has been a turbulent season and given the importance of the occasion.
“All I asked from players at the start was to make sure the performance was good,” he said.
“Obviously in front of the fans, the last home game of the year, we had everything to play for tonight.
“Even though Adelaide were fighting for a top two position, I could feel it in the sheds before the match that everyone wanted to send Bridgey (Michael Bridges) out on a high and make sure the likes of Adam Taggart finished the season with what he deserves by winning the Golden Boot.”
“Most people left happy tonight with the way we threw ourselves at it.
“We could have got that third goal and really piled the pressure on to Sydney, but already there is going to be that element of doubt in the back of their minds.
“Our job is half done because we are relying on other results but we shouldn't have put ourselves in this position to rely on that one.
“We could only do what we set out to do tonight and I am very happy for the boys, very proud and proud of the way they conducted themselves when I came into the role. It was a big challenge and all the players towed the line and did what I asked and we go out on a happy note.”
Despite being at home the Jets were made to attack on the counter and endured long periods where Adelaide controlled the tempo of the game and dominated possession. However the Newcastle side was able to take advantage of their pace on the counter after going ahead to set-piece goal to veteran Joel Griffiths in the 21st minute.
“It was a funny game because it was 1-0 early in that second half, and it was backs against the wall,” Zane said.
“We just had to be disciplined. For a 15 to 20 minute period it felt as though we couldn't get hold of the ball for more than one or two passes. We got through that stage and once we started to find our feet again, people were willing to break and look for extra goals.
“Credit to our players, they kept pushing forward and we always looked a threat on the counter attack. From a game that we were hanging onto, it could have easily turned into a three or four nil.”
Zane, who has endured being thrown into the deep end of professional coaching after Gary van Egmond was sacked from the Jets role 12 weeks ago, said he has loved his time in control of a club in the A-League but was uncertain as to his future.
“It has been a challenging 12 weeks and hopefully we can go another week or two depending on the results this weekend,' he said.
“It is something you can't do half-hearted. Every waking minute has been spent thinking about the next game, next training session and media commitments. It has been a great challenge and I am really happy that the club had the faith in me to throw me in.”
“We have had no dialogue other than feedback on a week to week basis. We will sit down at the end and talk and I will support whatever decision the club makes. It is something I want to do again and if it is next year, great.”
Zane also paid tribute to English veteran Michael Bridges who played his last game of professional football after announcing his retirement earlier this week.
“It is surreal when you come into an environment where you have people like Bridgey and Emile (Heskey) and the world is a smaller place and it is is becoming more commonplace where these types of players are coming out here,” he said.
“When I first came back here it was a pleasure just to meet him. I have become a friend before I even joined the club.
“He is a good family man, a great character but even more so the thing that stands out in my time at the club is the standards he kept when he wasn't in the team. That is the one thing the rest of our group could pick up from – he never dropped his bundle, he did the extras he required, and then when he was given a chance at the back end of last season he ended up playing quite a few matches when everyone thought he was done and dusted.
“He is a good friend, a great character and an even better footballer.”