The Roar
The Roar


Newcastle Jets 2011-12 season preview

Roar Pro
7th October, 2011

Well, what else could possibly go wrong? Even before the shocking events of the past week – namely the surprise sacking of manager Branko Culina and the attempted termination of the marquee contract for his son, star midfielder Jason Culina – Newcastle have been pegged as battlers for the wooden spoon.

It is very hard to see how Newcastle can battle its way into Finals contention. Were this a European league, Newcastle would be staring down the barrel of relegation.

Is there even a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel?

Well times like these, bleak and pessimistic, call for the long-term view. And the long-term view is far, far rosier.

Last season, it wasn’t the wooden spoon Newcastle were battling against; it was foreclosure. Foundation owner Constantine was mired in debt, players’ salaries were withheld, and the banks were hovering like vultures.

In comes Nathan Tinkler, the billionaire saviour every club prays for, with the added bonus of being a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool Novocastrian.

Suddenly, Newcastle look like becoming the financial powerhouse of the A-League and they now have a much, much flashier kit.

For now though, increased financial capacity has not added substance to the locker room. And the removal of the experienced Culina senior from the dugout will only increase the burden.


The fact of the matter is, with one exception, every single A-League club has evolved substantially over the last two seasons.

Newcastle find themselves standing still, with no significant recruits and no revolution in playing style.

Jason Culina was supposed to become the focal point of this team; without him, the Newcastle squad look devoid of attacking spark and creative guile.

Ben Kantarovski, the young midfield general, who drew the admiring glances of Bayern Munich, is currently injured, but when he returns, he will carry the weight of expectation.

Perhaps he can be deployed as a deep-lying regista in front of two holders, with an attacking trio in front. For the time being, expect Newcastle to eschew seizing the initiative; they will sit deep in two banks of four, and look to Chris Payne, Jesic or Ryan Griffiths to pull rabbits out of thin air.

Thankfully, they can still call upon the services of Ben Kennedy between the sticks, and the imposing figure of Topor-Stanley in central defence.

It’s going to be a long season for Newcastle.


But don’t despair; Tinkler has slashed ticket prices and increased support for families. Finding a new coach will be crucial, especially for the next few seasons, and hopefully the Newcastle board don’t rush into any rash decisions.

Newcastle United have money to spare, are situated in the prime catchment area for young talent, and can rely on parochial regional support; for now, they should be feared as the proverbial sleeping giant.