Merrick: We can still play finals

“We let our Club down, we let our fans down, [and] it was a really poor performance from us.

“We knew how they’d play – very compact, defensive, and catch us on the counter. We worked on it all week, but we didn’t play in attack the way we’d planned.

“We had the bulk of the play, we had 24 shots to 5, out of those 24 there were eight or nine really quality chances to score goals but didn’t take our chances. Our finishing was poor.

“We lost the game in the first half and we didn’t get any better in the second half, we only played 15 minutes of good football which isn’t good enough if you want to play finals football.”

Kwabena Appiah Central Coast Mariners
Kwabena Appiah in action on his debut

That was part of Ernie Merrick’s brutal assessment of Saturday night’s loss to the Central Coast Mariners, which has proved a speed bump in the Jets race to the finals.

In a round where two of the three sides above us on the ladder claimed victory, failing to pick up three points is far from ideal.

The gap between seventh and sixth stands at five points, as it did prior to kick-off in the five games across Round 22.

Merrick has been insistent from the get-go that a spot in the top six would be Newcastle’s come the end of the season, and it’s a belief the veteran coach still holds.

 

However, he does concede that the job is now made that little bit harder.

“It makes it tougher, but what I said to the boys right from the start is that it isn’t all about this [the Mariners] game,” Merrick said.

“It’s very important but not all about it, we’ve got six games to go and we’ve got to win three of them – maybe get a draw in another.

“That still stands, but we’ve now only got five games to win three, and maybe get a draw. It’s a very tough job now, but it’s not impossible.”

The final five is a mixed bag for Jets fans – Wellington, Western Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, and Sydney.

Dimi Petratos
Dimi Petratos was busy in difficult conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium

Brisbane and the Wanderers are below Newcastle on the ladder, Wellington are a side in the race for the top six, while Sydney and Perth are fighting it out at the pointy end of the ladder.

All-in-all there’s 15 points up for grabs and Merrick has every confidence that if his side fires on all cylinders they can snare a spot in the six and cause some havoc come finals time.