JETS chief executive Lawrie McKinna is confident the Jets can turn their flagging form around in a "huge" game against Brisbane at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
But the former coach said although everyone in the club was "hurting" it was up to the players to fix their performances.
After consecutive wins over Western United and Melbourne Victory, the Jets have dropped three games on the bounce.
The last two have been sub-standard performances against Melbourne City (4-0) and Perth Glory (6-2).
"We won two good games, should have beaten Adelaide, and the last two results have been very poor," McKinna said. "It is an ideal opportunity against Brisbane who are on level points with us. You win that and jump back up. It depends how the Mariners go, but you could be in ninth. This weekend is huge for us. Compared to last year the league is quite tight. If you get on a run, you can jump up the table."
McKinna offered an apology to the fans, especially the 28 who were in the away bay, for the surrender to Perth.
"It was not good enough," he said. "I apologise to the fans. Sometimes people think it doesn't hurt us. It rips your heart out because we appreciate the fans turning up to support the boys."
The match will be Roy O'Donovan's first back in Newcastle since the striker left for the Roar.
The Irishman has netted six goals in nine appearances for Brisbane, who are also struggling for form and have suffered consecutive defeats to Western United (2-0) and Sydney (5-1).
Captain Nigel Boogaard is expected to resume training this week and could add starch and direction to the defence. Kaine Sheppard played 70 minutes for the youth league team in a 5-3 loss to Sydney FC on Sunday and nearing full fitness.
McKinna is continuing to explore bringing in a player during the January transfer window, but said the onus was on the current squad to improve.
"The hope was that we would hang in there until we get the players back - Wes Hoolahan, Kaine and now Abdiel Arroyo," McKinna said. "Even if we bring somebody in, they are not going to be up to match speed. You can see that with Kaine Sheppard. He was out for three months and is still working his way to full fitness. The only ones who can fix this is the squad."
Meanwhile, Adelaide FC coach Gertjan Verbeek criticised his team's lack of focus for their 2-1 loss to Central Coast on Sunday night.
The fifth-placed Reds were stunned by two goals in the first half against the then-bottom-placed Mariners - and it's not the first time it's happened this season.
It's a concern for Verbeek, who said his team don't have the class not to perform at their best and still win.
The Reds were also beaten 2-1 by Wellington Phoenix in round 8 when the trans-Tasman side were last on the ladder, and Verbeek puts it down to an inability to match their opponent's mentality.
"We don't have the extra quality that we say we can have an off day and we can still win it," he said.