JETS INSIDER - Robbie Middleby

In this week’s edition of Jets Insider, CEO Robbie Middleby is answering questions submitted by the club’s Members and supporters.

In this week-s edition of Jets Insider, CEO Robbie Middleby is answering questions submitted by the club-s Members and supporters.

Middleby answers tough questions about player retention and recruitment, the Jets players who have impressed him most this season and his expectations for the remainder of the season.

@SychSessions are the Jets any closer to re-signing Dominik Ritter?!?

Robbie Middleby (RM): We haven-t made a decision yet on Dominik Ritter. Dom has had a few injuries so far this season, so we-re looking forward to him returning to action at the back end of the season. We-ll see how Dom goes and we-ll sit down with him and make a final decision from there.

Mitch McDonough asks via email: A lot of A-League clubs have released players in order to sign other players from rival A-League teams as well as from outside of Australia. We seem to always be restrained by our lack of squad spots available, and seem to use this as an excuse when we can't move to bring in players in transfer windows. Why do we struggle to release players, particularly ones who have not featured in our squad, yet other clubs seem to do it so easily?

RM: It-s always a difficult one when you-re looking to release a player because the player actually has to want to leave as well. They also need to have a club to go to, otherwise if you give them a pay out to release them, that payment is still included in the salary cap.

It-s a two-way street, but in a way, we feel like we-re in a fortunate position because players don-t want to leave the club. You can-t force someone out if they have a contract, so it-s not as easy as some people might think.

William Knight asks via email: Which Jets players have impressed or even surprised you with their performances this season?

RM: I think Mark Birighitti has been outstanding for us and Criag Goodwin has also been great. When you have young players, they-re always going to have their ups and downs but we-re looking to build towards the future at the Jets. With the game time they-ve had, that will be beneficial for the whole team next season.

@CorbinJennings asks via Twitter: does the club have regular contact from European clubs about buying players or is it a rare occasion?

RM: We-ve got regular contact with ex-players, coaches and player agents in different parts of Europe. It-s always going to be difficult to take notice of all the different contacts, but it-s important to listen to the people you trust.

We-ll have some visa spots available on our roster for next season, so it-s something we-re carefully looking at on a regular basis.

@andy_da_stompa asks via Twitter: Has anyone given Offers for Heskey? We want him back in England.

RM: Emile has been sensational for the club, not just on the field, but off the field as well with all our young players. He-s such a fantastic role model and we would love to keep him here in Australia because he-s put the Newcastle Jets on the world football map.

For a player of his stature to come out here and perform for the Jets is just fantastic and I know there is a lot of interest for him in Asia and Europe, but hopefully we-ll get things sorted out soon and he-ll stay here.

Mitch McDonough asks via email: What is the clubs policy in regards to who organises transfers in and out of the club? Does the coach have total control, or are many people involved? In particular, who has the ultimate say on who to sign/not sign/re-sign/etc and how to go about this?

RM: As a football department we sit down and discuss all player recruitment and retention decisions. Of course the club has an input and a direction that we want to go, but when it comes to a certain player, ultimately it is the head coach-s decision.

You can-t judge a coach for his performances if you don-t let a coach pick and choose the players he has in his squad.

Dean Bryant asks via email: Do you believe the Club-s decision to have the youth team compete in NBN State League contributed to the elevation of the likes of Virgili, Chapman, Gallaway and Hoole to the first team?

RM: It-s been a major component of their development. For us to see the fruits of that labour, after investing in that aspect of our players- development and ensuring we met all the rules and regulations to make it happen, makes it very rewarding.

To see four or five boys who played for the Jets youth team in last season-s NBN State League now playing A-League on a regular basis shows it was all worthwhile.

Natasha Smith asks via email: Given current standings on the A-League ladder, what would you consider a pass mark for this season?

RM: I think every club wants to make that top six and that was certainly our expectation at the start of the season and it still is. The competition is so tight and with the way the Finals Series is structured this season, if you do make the playoffs, anything can happen from there.

Jess Fordham asks via email: Do you know why Taylor Regan wasn-t selected on the weekend? Did it have anything to do with what happened between Gary and Taylor in Wellington?

RM: It had nothing to do with what happened when Taylor came off the field in Wellington. It was more about Gary wanting balance in the team and having a left-footer (Josh Mitchell) and right-footer (Connor Chapman) together in the centre-back positions.

Mark Hall asks via email: Is the club likely to make any more moves during the transfer window?

RM: It an opportunity came up that would be beneficial to the club, we-d look at it, but as it stands, we-re not actively looking to sign any other players during the rest of the transfer window.

For next week-s Jets Insider interview former England international Emile Heskey will answer YOUR questions. Simply tweet your question using the #JetsInsider hashtag or send your question to communications@huntersportsgroup.com by COB Wednesday. Then check back in Jets Insider next week to see if your question is answered.