ASSISTANT coach Clayton Zane can see the frustration the Jets strikers are feeling after a slow start to the campaign.
The Jets have the lean return of two goals from the opening three games – two loses and a draw.
It is in stark contrast to last season when they opened with a flurry, thrashing Central Coast 5-1, sharing the points with Perth 2-all and accounting for Brisbane 2-1.
Roy O’Donovan led the way, netting five of the nine goals. But with the Irishman suspended until round nine, the Jets have lacked a killer punch in the final third.
“Frustration, for me, is a good thing in a striker,” Zane, a former Socceroos attacker, said. “It means they care and they want to change things. They were frustrated in pre-season if they didn’t score goals. We expect nothing but that in the season.”
Dimi Petratos and Ronny Vargas have each scored a goal. Both have been denied by the woodwork, while fellow attackers Jason Hoffman and Jair have also gone close.
“Dimi, Ronny, Hoff … we know they have goals in them,” Zane said. “Jair has proven overseas that he can score goals at a level equal too or higher than he is playing. It is just a matter of getting that little bit of luck. Last year we got it in the first game against the Central Coast. Obviously that gives players a bit of belief. But we don’t feel like we are too far off the mark from where we were last year. It is just getting that early goal and then teams have to come out and play against us.”
The Jets scored a club-record 57 goals on the way to reaching the grand final last season. As a result, opposition teams are taking a more pragmatic approach.
“The big thing for us is that we are creating a lot of chances,” Zane said. “If teams sat back and the final-third entries were down, that would obviously be something we would have to reassess. In the first half against Victory, we had something like 23 entries into the front third.”
Next for the Jets is Sydney FC at home on Saturday night. The Sky Blues sit on seven points and are fresh from a 3-0 victory over Melbourne City. In three games, last season’s champions have netted six goals, despite losing Golden Boot Bobo and Johnny Warren-medal winner Adrian Mierzejewski.
“Last week we played against a team desperate for a win, this week it is a team who is sitting on seven points and doing very well,” Zane said. “We hope they come out and play a more open, expansive game. That suits us.”
Asked if the Sky Blues shaped as a tougher opposition to the side which were runaway winners of the Premiers Plate, Zane said: “It’s disrespectful to say they are not at the same level as last year. The new number nine has settled quickly and the engine room in midfield remains unchanged. They are still the benchmark. It’s another massive test for us.”