Culina: All hands on deck

The Jets play host to the Melbourne Victory in round 11 of the Hyundai A-League at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday at 3pm.

The Jets play host to the Melbourne Victory in round 11 of the Hyundai A-League at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday at 3pm.

Both teams will be looking to improve on their last starts, with the Jets registering a 1-all draw in Adelaide 11 days ago, while the Victory were humbled 3-0 by Sydney last Friday night.

Jets coach Branko Culina believes the Victory will be back to their best on Sunday afternoon as they have too many quality players for another poor performance.

“They-ve got a few strengths. One is that they-ve got a good leader in Muscat who leads them well and organises them on the park superbly, but they have Thompson with his speed and dribbling ability, Fabiano-s good in the air, Hernandez with his set pieces and creativity. So they-ve got a few - attacking, going forward, they-re very dangerous - so that is an area we need to be on top of our game to make sure we don-t have any lapses.”

While the Jets are confident heading into the game because of their good record against the Melburnians, Culina doesn-t subscribe to the theory that that will be enough to get them three points without a ball being kicked.

“I don-t think it-s because you-ve got a good record or bad record against someone you should base it on that because that can always change with different players, different circumstances. I think the reason we-re confident is because we believe the way we-re playing football, we-re as good as anyone and Melbourne will create that extra challenge for us. We respect them and where they are and what they-ve achieved and that alone will bring out the best in the players.”

“They don-t have too many weaknesses. Obviously a team that has won two championships before and are near the top of the table doesn-t have too many, but there are one or two we-ll be looking to exploit and make sure that playing at home, we-ll be looking to take advantage.”

As the Jets look to climb the A-League ladder, Culina says the first step is ensuring all players are concentrating on the job at hand.

“That-s a sign of a top team, the one that reduces the lapses. The problem for us is that we-ve had more of those than we should for a top team. The top teams tend to have few of those lapses and we-re trying to work hard on that area. Maybe now that everyone-s on board and everyone-s pushing each other, maybe the players will be more focussed and concentrated. Another thing regarding that is results. If you have good results, all of a sudden you focus more because you-re under less pressure. You can-t constantly produce when you-re under pressure, so by winning games the pressure comes off slightly and therefore allows you to express yourself and focus better.”

As the team look to get the result on the park, Culina urges the people of Newcastle to head out to the game on Sunday and be that vital 12th man.

“The crowds are vital to us. You know, some teams when they play at home are just different teams because the crowd really gets behind them and supports them in such a way that it lifts everyone. Whilst our crowds have been low, the support has been terrific and hopefully that will continue and with greater numbers and therefore will lift the players to do that little bit extra. That little bit extra sometimes is the difference between winning and losing.”

“We-d like to think that whoever comes to EnergyAustralia Stadium in the future is going to really know it. Not only because of the way the team plays, but also that they-ll have to deal with the crowd.”

“A lot of teams when you play away, you-re in awe of and are almost frightened to express yourself because of the crowd. That it becomes the 12th man so to speak. Hopefully our crowds will do that for us as the season progresses because it does mean a lot. That-s why the last couple of home games have been disappointing not only for the players, but the crowd, because they deserve better and we want to give them better.”

Tickets for Sunday-s home game against Melbourne Victory are available from www.proticket.com.au or by calling (02) 4915 2345.