Football can be cruel at times. See you next week. Happy New Year, IOU about 870 words.
If that’s how I’m feeling, you can imagine the Jets players are scratching their heads, trying to clear the fog from brains struggling to comprehend how they didn’t take something from their clash with Adelaide at a steamy McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
Could they have been more professional, a little more circumspect, having fought their way back in testing conditions to have a share of the points? Obviously they could have, but with a positive attitude very much a club credo, and an opponent very obviously tiring, the fans would have expected them to be bold and chase three points at home.
Had they not done so, we probably would all be critical in our summaries, bemoaning a lack of belief or killer instinct, so I think you have to acknowledge the scales of risk and reward when reflecting on the final 15 minutes.
That said, I also believe the Jets were a little too ‘nice’ in the concluding stages, so intent were they on grabbing a winner.
If you are going to commit a lot of players forward in an attempt to win the game, you must deny the opposition the chance to break effectively, particularly when they have been set up to threaten through that avenue, late in the game. Commit a foul 50 or 60 metres from goal and reset. Sure they get a brief respite, but see how brave the opponent wants to be and possibly open some space for yourself.
I am not quite sure how Adelaide’s goalkeeper Paul Izzo didn’t feature prominently in man-of-the-match calculations because his excellent display and some wayward finishing from the Jets were clearly decisive factors in the outcome.
The poor finishing attracted statistical analysis from the Fox Sports crew, who told us the Jets have taken more shots than any other side in the competition but are in last position in terms of the percentage on target.
I can hear the call for remedial shooting practice in the quadrangle at recess and lunchtime from any number of schoolteacher/coaches I know, but I’m sure the team would be getting plenty of work in front of goal.
Is it a confidence thing? Will the goals start to flow once one or two go in? Is it perhaps a sign that the Jets haven’t got in behind teams as regularly as they did last season and are taking shots from greater range or more difficult angles?
The stats would also suggest that the Jets are enjoying more of the ball this season, so perhaps the team are trying to adjust to attacking in a slightly different way this time around.
The numbers suggest, and the eye tends to confirm, that the team are well in almost every game, and if they can get a little lift from somewhere, they can threaten all rivals. You’d love that lift to occur in January though.
The other statistical offering to capture the attention on Sunday was that Newcastle have never won a game between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in 14 seasons of A-League football. Twelve losses and two draws is horrendous reading and, with apologies to the current playing group, I’m suggesting team bonding at Singleton army base next year, away from the distractions of the vast metropolis of Newcastle. P.S the rooms with no air conditioning, Ernie.
All jokes aside, that is a startling statistic and one that perhaps needs addressing in future campaigns.
The good news for the team, psychologically anyway, is that the wait for redemption need only last another 36 hours, give or take, and Brisbane are struggling a little. They lost coach John Aloisi last week and also played in hot conditions against Sydney on Saturday.
A similar output to what was produced on Sunday should ensure a precious three points ahead of Sunday’s trip to AAMI Park to face Melbourne City.
Blind Freddy knows that it’s an important time of the season for all teams, but in particular for the Jets, given the very challenging schedule January holds for them. I can see the focus on grabbing clean sheets prominent on a resolution list, with belief that there is still more than enough going on at the other end to win games.
Blind Freddy knows that it’s an important time of the season for all teams.
I can see Ernie Merrick insisting on a better return from set-piece opportunities, where the delivery has been inconsistent in comparison to last campaign. And when the really top-shelf deliveries have arrived, they haven’t been attacked with quite the gusto required at this level.
Despite the disappointment of Sunday night, the Jets remain just four points away from fourth spot, at the time of writing, and still well in the mix. A win against Brisbane on Wednesday night at McDonald Jones Stadium seems vital though before a very tough away schedule.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy new year. Liverpool fans, try to keep a lid on it! But if you beat City this week . . .
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