CRAIG Deans is looking forward to having a full week to "focus on football" and the Jets interim coach has singled out a change in mindset as the starting point.
Thrust into the hot seat after the sudden sacking of Ernie Merrick last week, Deans was encouraged, despite going down 2-1 to Sydney on Friday night. The Jets had the runaway A-League leaders under enormous pressure in the second half and were unlucky not to get an equaliser.
Next is a road trip to second-placed Melbourne City, who hammered the Jets 4-0 at McDonald Jones Stadium on December 15 - the start of a slide that cost Merrick his job.
"We have a full week of training, lots of time to prepare, and we need to go down there with the same attitude as we had against Sydney and have a proper go at winning the game," Deans said. "The disruption [last week] was a coach going and that takes a lot of focus off football for a period of time.
"Unfortunately, I have been in this situation before (2011-12 season) so I was able to reflect back on how to cope with it.
"Ernie asked me six weeks ago to sit on the bench when I was available. I have been in around team meetings and watched some training. I knew the strengths of the players and what players needed to get them ready for a game.
"Hopefully this week, the amount of time we spent talking to players and getting their heads in the right space, we can spend that working at training and talking about football.
"I'm just looking forward to having a week of hopefully not too many disruptions."
As has been the case all season, the Jets paid the price against Sydney for a failure to convert chances.
However, the difference between Friday night and the previous losses was the fight that the Jets showed in the second half when down 2-1. They were in similar situations against the Glory (2-1 down) and Victory (1-0) and surrendered to be thumped 6-2 and 4-0 respectively.
Though happy with their resilience, Deans wants the Jets to be more proactive defensively from the start.
"Second half, other than not scoring goals, I couldn't fault them," he said. "We were probably a little bit too conservative in the first half. I think because in the last three or four games we've been losing by four goals, it's maybe still in the back of their mind that they don't want to lose. But if the mindset is negative, then you start to drop a bit too deep, which is what we did.
"We need to change our mindset, change our mentality without the ball to be aggressive and back ourselves to take little risks."
Jets midfielder Steve Ugarkovic, who scored a stunner to draw level on Friday, said the players had "pulled their heads in".
"The boys have come to a realisation - everyone from Nigel Boogaard through to Jack Simmons - that it is not always up to the coach, it is up to us to turn it around," he said.
"Deansy is an excellent coach. He came in and didn't want to change much. It was up to the playing group to pull our heads in and focus. Now Deansy has a full week to get us in line more structurally.
"There are things we need to work on but we are on the right path. We need a good result, we need to build momentum and take that into the next game."