Interim Newcastle Jets coach Clayton Zane has admitted he may have got his team selection and tactics wrong after his side were humbled 3-0 in the F3 Derby by the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Saturday evening.
Young-guns Adam Taggart and Josh Brillante were named in the starting line-up after returning from international duty with the Australian U22 team, while Andrew Hoole was a second-half substitute.
But their return mattered little as the Jets have now failed to win in nine matches at Bluetongue Stadium and could fall to eighth by Sunday night should Sydney FC avoid defeat against Melbourne Victory.
In charge of his first A-League match after Gary van Egmond was sacked earlier this week the one-time Newcastle W-League boss said he "threw them to the wolves a little bit" and "I thought carrying three (returning Australian players) was too many."
Zane was happy to point the finger of blame at himself after the Derby disappointment.
"I take responsibility a little bit for the shape and set up in terms of I might not have been clear enough," he said post-game.
"But I'll talk to the players and find out whether they felt that way afterwards.
"But I am not going to sit behind the players on this one, I sent them out in 4-4-2, I changed the system, I told them when and where to press.
"I told them to be bold in attack and we were left wide open."
The strategy backfired as the Mariners scored within 13 minutes after a wonder goal from Anthony Caceres left the visitors chasing the game.
Zane admitted he was concerned that the Mariners would be an attacking threat, particularly from dead ball scenarios, predicting the Mariners would score their third goal moments after former English international Emile Heskey spurned a great chance.
"When they got that set piece (a corner taken by Mile Sterjovksi) I had a sneaky feeling that would come back to haunt us," said Zane.
"They do reply on a lot of second balls, relying on the big players to win the ball up front.
"That was my biggest fear coming into the match was how we would cope with the second ball and the third ball even and get our shape in time to be able to deal with them in an attacking sense."
Outlining his tactical change the former Socceroo noted: "It’s been a week since we changed system we went from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 tonight and it’s a big change.
"Some people get it straight away and some people don’t.
"I told the boys at the start of the week I take responsibility for that because you can't just change the system (and expect sustained results).
"You might get lucky for a week, you might get lucky for two weeks, but we need to keep building that understanding if we are going to stick to a 4-4-4 or even a 4-3-3 with a variation where we try to get more people around and try to tuck the wingers in a bit more like Central Coast have done in previous seasons."
With Joel Griffiths having returned to the Hunter Valley after a stint in China, Zane said he would not rush back the star marksman.
"I haven’t put too much energy into chasing that one up just because I have had so much going on getting the team ready for this week.
"All I can get ready is to try and get him fit from a conditioning point of view and that all seems to be on track.
"I'd like to think he is available (to play the Wanderers) and have minutes next week but I don't think he is going to be a starter."comments