Home Improvement

Branko Culina reflects on the first third of the Hyundai A-League season leading into the Jets next two home games.

As the Newcastle Jets took stock with a rare weekend off, courtesy of New Zealand-s FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifications, coach Branko Culina believes it is a break the players- needed after their rollercoaster start to the season.

“The season has been frustrating because early on we got some reasonable results, but didn-t have the personnel available and the last few weeks - because we-ve played great football, but got nothing to show for it - has been frustrating in that respect, but still when you consider that we finished last last year and lost five internationals and a lot of new players have come in, it takes time, but I-m pleased with what I see with the players.”

While the Jets may be sitting on 9 points on the Hyundai A-League ladder, there have been various reasons for the team-s results.

“Up until now there has been so many players missing for various reasons. It was hard to line up where we really sit - are we a top two, three, four team or are we a bottom two, three or four? At the moment, the ladder says we-re a bottom two, but that-s definitely not a true reflection of what this team is capable of. The next four or five weeks - if the team stays injury free, no problems, we-ll tell where we really belong.”

Last week-s 1-all draw with Adelaide could prove to be the turning point in the team-s season, after dominating their encounters with Sydney and Perth, but still losing, last week-s well-earnt point gives fans plenty of reason to be optimistic about the remainder of the season.

“When a team is playing well but isn-t scoring goals, but are creating a lot of chances, we-re a bit like that. You play good football but you don-t quite get the result. You continue to be optimistic because you know you-re playing good football and it-s got to change sooner or later and that-s the encouraging thing because the Sydney game and the Perth game, we lost on the back of two penalties we gave away and missed our own penalty.”

“We hit posts in both games and then we went to Adelaide and in the first half alone we should have had the game finished and then the last ten minutes we were very unlucky when the offside decision went against us. It could have gone either way and sometimes when you-re on top, things go your way and when you-re on the bottom, they don-t tend to. But it-s the manner of football we-re playing that is encouraging.”

Culina believes things will turn around in the remaining two-thirds of the season, but feels fans and players alike need to be patient.

“It-s a matter of keeping at it. Keeping the things that are happening at the moment, but add a little bit more firepower up front and at the same time make sure that across the board we-re more focussed and even thought the goal we conceded against Adelaide was a wonder strike by Cassio, we could have perhaps defended a little bit better.”

The Jets return home next Sunday afternoon to the Melbourne Victory and Culina says the team will be looking to improve on their last two performances at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

“It-s always better to play at home, although our last two home games haven-t been good results-wise and that-s another reason we need to change things. Looking forward to the next two games at home - Melbourne Victory and Central Coast - that certainly should excite the players and the season so far has shown if you can win at home and get one or two results away from home, you-re going to be right up there.”

Tickets for the Jets- home matches are available from www.proticket.com.au or by calling (02) 4915 2345.