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Round 4: A new hope for Jets passing game

Griffo Roar Guru

By Griffo, Griffo is a Roar Guru

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    The Newcastle Jets made 291 passes in their F3 Derby win at home to the Central Coast Mariners, 156 fewer passes than their visiting F3 rivals.

    What options do the Jets have at home against Melbourne Victory this week, who made 559 passes to defeat Adelaide United?

    Coach Gary van Egmond’s Jets, in his first stint with the club, were renowned for passing and playing out from the back.

    The high tempo, passing game was very much the mantra on his return for a second tour, and after rebuilding the club heavily during the 2012 preseason, the signs were good for his vision to come to life on the pitch.

    Having conceded that the Jets didn’t control the game against the Mariners, van Egmond has been concentrating this week on controlling the game along with ball circulation and positioning.

    Van Egmond also concedes that the team is still working out how to use Emile Heskey while retaining their philosophy of patient possession.

    “We’ve been doing it the whole preseason, but with Emile getting here later, they’ve tended to look at that as an outlet a little bit too soon and we haven’t got that balance right as such,” he said via the Jets website.

    “We’re not going to become a team that’s looking to play direct and play off the second ball.

    “We are going to play direct at times, but it’s going to be calculated when we play direct and it’s going to be a case of looking to ensure we control the game through our ball circulation.”

    With James Brown still recovering from ankle surgery and Scott Neville needing more recovery from a groin injury, van Egmond will need to call on his more technical players to retain possession throughout the lines.

    For this reason, I think that Josh Brillante and Bernardo Ribeiro are firming for the starting squad.

    Van Egmond is tossing up between Brillante or Ruben Zadkovich as the right fullback with Kantarovski as a holding midfielder.

    However, if Ribeiro starts as the number 10 that either leaves Zadkovich on the bench or as right fullback.

    I think that with Brillante being a capable holding midfielder, you could play Zadkovich at right fullback and still have Ribeiro directing play out wide to either Craig Goodwin or Ryan Griffiths, or on the deck to Heskey as the sole striker.

    This would leave Kantarovski to sub on for, say Zadkovich and move Brillante into the fullback position as an option later in the game.

    With so many attacking options in the squad it may seem that Virgili may come off the bench as an impact player later in the game after a standout performance last week.

    Van Egmond should have the players at his disposal to play out from the back, retain possession, circulate the ball into the front third to strike with venom and effectively control the game.

    Van Egmond has identified the front four of Flores, Thompson, Finkler and Rojas as being the most testing for the Jets defence, while Mark Milligan will get special attention to stifle some of the moves from the Victory’s back line.

    But with 67 passes last week, Traore may be an alternate avenue.

    Van Egmond was the bogey coach against the Victory during his first stint, but against Ange Postecoglou he is behind in wins 2-1.

    If the Jets are to win they’re going to have to pressure the Victory defence, keep possession, and use the ball effectively in midfield and the front third.

    The Victory are going to have to disrupt the Jets movement on the flanks and attack though the middle if they are going to win for the first time in Newcastle since 2009.

    Newcastle Jets versus Melbourne Victory, possible lineup:

    Zadkovich Calvano Mitchell Ritter
    Brillante Wheelhouse (c)
    Griffiths Ribeiro Goodwin

    Subs Taggart, Virgili, Kantarovski, Duncan

    Jets Squad:
    1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3. Tiago CALVANO, 4. Josh MITCHELL, 5. Dominik RITTER, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Emile HESKEY, 10. Bernardo RIBEIRO, 12. Josh BRILLANTE, 14. Taylor REGAN, 15. Craig GOODWIN, 16. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (c), 17. James VIRGILI, 19. Michael BRIDGES, 20. Mark BIRIGHItime trialI (gk), 22. Adam TAGGART, 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS, 30. Jack DUNCAN (gk).

    In: Ribeiro, Bridges, Duncan
    Out: –
    Unavailable: James Brown (ankle), Scott Neville (groin)

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    The Crowd Says (35)

    • October 25th 2012 @ 7:06am
      Jordan said | October 25th 2012 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Virgili deserves to be in the starting side.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

    • Roar Guru

      October 25th 2012 @ 10:03am
      Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      Judging by recent matches I’d say this will be a battle with a lot of play on the left flanks for both teams. Jets will want to give the ball to Goodwin, who has tons of talent, and I’d expect him to cause Fochini at right back a lot of grief. Fochin had his best game last week with good coverage by Petar Franjic, and with Milligan in the centre, Melb played a five man back line when defending. I’d expect Victory to use the same structure this week.

      At the same time, Melb will use Traore making attacking runs down their left and he’ll link up with Archie who these days is playing out wide to free up the centre for Flores and Finkler. I dont think Griffiths chases back enough so I expect the Jets right fullback Zadkovich/Kantarovsji to come under a lot of pressure.

      Heskey’s fitness will get tested if he is asked to pressure the Melb defense and disrupt their play across the back line.

      Jet’s have been a bogey team for Victory over the years and I’m looking forward to seeing how this match unfolds. Jets have been more consistent with their play overall and should start favorites. Victory will be watched to see if they take a few steps forward after some periods of quality play last week, or will they slip back to old habits still unsure of what they are trying to achieve. Time will tell.

    • Roar Guru

      October 25th 2012 @ 10:50am
      Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Good observations philipcoates.

      Griffiths had a groin tightening middle of the week and depending on how far he plays up near the front line, he might not be as inclined to track back as much on the right as the game progresses.

      While Goodwin has quickly made the left flank an attacking avenue for the Jets, Virgili’s game last week made the right flank equally dangerous. Unless Griffiths condition worsens I can’t see Virgil starting on the right attacking midfield position but can see him replacing Griffiths in the second half; early if Victory pose a threat down that side as you say and Griffiths condition flares up.

      I didn’t see the Victory v AU game last week but was there much switching play from left to right in the attacking half? I see a lot of balls on the right flank: Finkler, Rojas, Flores combination fed by Milligan?

      Should be a good game given how well we play against Victory and their performance against Adelaide the previous round.

      • Roar Guru

        October 25th 2012 @ 11:32am
        Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Griffo, there wasn’t a lot of switching play. Victory seemed to either attack down the right with Rojas until a shot or turnover, or attack down the left with Traore/Thompson until a shot or turnover, but they didn’t move the ball from left to right or vice versa. Flores and Finkler did the attacking through the middle when Melb chose that route usually fed with a direct ball by Milligan into the midfield. The jury is out on Finkler. I think he’s got talent but is perhaps finding the physical nature of the game a bit hard going at the moment. His free kicks are pretty darn good though. Flores didn’t seem to be match fit to me and he was having trouble chasing in the second half. I wasn’t surprised when he came off although the Fox commentators seemed surprised when I watched the replay.

        • Roar Guru

          October 25th 2012 @ 11:42am
          Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Thanks for the clarification philipcoates.

          Finkler was getting some sunshine during preseason, but the first game I saw him get smashed many times during the first half.

          Hopefully he survives that mental battle and shines through, just not tomorrow night (or due to certain Jets players getting stuck into him). 😉

          Looking forward to the game, could be a good one.

        • Roar Guru

          October 25th 2012 @ 1:31pm
          Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

          One thing I forgot to comment on about Flores was that he was looking fairly lean. If he is building up match fitness it certainly isn’t because he is carrying any excess weight…

      • Roar Guru

        October 25th 2012 @ 8:13pm
        Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

        My bad – Griffiths has some neck issue and sat out of the training session.

        Also from report van Egmond is keeping the team up to speed with 4-3-3 and a 3-4-3 variation, so expect the unexpected.

        4-3-3 to defend against Victory’s front four and attack with speed?

        Or a 3-4-3 to press and control midfield but open to the counter?

        A tasty game brewing tomorrow night.

    • October 25th 2012 @ 11:03am
      Midfielder said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report


      I have a lot of time for GVE … it’s a young squad with many new players my guess is GVE is building for the long term while trying to stay in touch with the pack….

      I think someone needs to give Zadkovich some pills …. One of the few players in Hal who IMO anyway makes a lot of dangerous tackles and will in time bring pressure on the side …

      Good crowds to date which is always a good sign…

      Whats the news in Tinkler Town about the famous owner the Knights have been in the press a lot re late payments to players or at least that is what I have read…

      • Roar Guru

        October 25th 2012 @ 11:38am
        Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        Mid, you are right about Zadkovich. He’s going to break someones leg one day or send them home with a nasty gash. After a couple of bad tackles last week he might be watched a bit closer by the refs in coming weeks.

        • Roar Guru

          October 25th 2012 @ 12:09pm
          Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          On this line of thought, I don’t recall Flores getting a reputation for diving, and wondered how his foul resulted in a yellow for diving, and if that decision against him will mean he will be scrutinised for every decision in the future.

          On viewing replays of Zadkovich’s yellow card in the first minute, I noticed he pulled his legs in at the last moment (perhaps saving him from getting a red card). But a worse tackle on Sterjovski from behind didn’t get a card at all.

          A very strange week for referee decisions.

          I wonder though on whether van Egmond has had a word this week (or in the past) on controlling his enthusiasm (or managing his emotions in intense game situations).

          • Roar Guru

            October 25th 2012 @ 12:35pm
            Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            I though the tackle on Sterjovski deserved a red when i saw it happen.

            As for Flores, he may have dragged his leg a little to draw the foul, but I thought he did draw the trip and there was contact. In those circumstances I think the ref should say, ‘Flores, you weren’t attempting to play the ball and as such you were responsible for your own the trip up, no foul.” but he didn’t ‘dive’ either so no yellow card.

            If Zadkovich and Flores are both on the referee’s watch list, he’ll have a hard time if Zadkovich tries to crunch Flores and Flores jumps out of the way and falls over. Which one will he book? Zad for the tackle or Flores for the dive? Roll on Friday night!

            • October 25th 2012 @ 12:46pm
              Nathan of Perth said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

              Probably would have been if Ben William’s angle on play had been better.

            • October 25th 2012 @ 4:22pm
              trojan said | October 25th 2012 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

              PC – is diving and diving a different story when its melbourne victory?
              honestly some MV fans on other forums thought flores was rolling around a bit much in the first game of the season and he got a penalty against brisbane roar just outside the box for a fall. he got booked for it last week. if its theatrics and diving as you call it for brisbane roar then its the same for victory. as i recall kewell admitted to diving last year while at MV.

              though i agree – if Zadkovich wipes out Flores the referee won’t know what to do but they both may end up out of action for a short spell.

              • Roar Guru

                October 25th 2012 @ 5:38pm
                Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

                Trojan, I dont like diving at all regardless of the team and I’ll call it as I see it. For what it’s worth i don’t think Berisha dived in the GF but I do think he and Broich regularly push the boundaries and have conned the ref on numerous occasions. Harry was the biggest whinger to wear Victory colours and yes, he dived. I also agree Flores has a habit of throwing himself a little too easily (like Berisha and Broich) and I don’t like it. I’m not sure Flores’ fall last week deserved a penalty but i do think there was contact. Contact can happen all over the field and isnt an automatic free kick or yelllow card if you fall, sometime it’s just play on and that is what I think should have happened in the Flores case.

              • October 26th 2012 @ 2:51am
                Nathan of Perth said | October 26th 2012 @ 2:51am | ! Report

                I do recall a pretty over the top flop from Kewell last year on one of their away games to Perth that made even the MV faithful on their forum avert their eyes and cringe. It does happen here and there; even in Glory’s game against Heart Dodd had an instance of fairly tamely leaving his feet, albeit not in the box.

    • Roar Guru

      October 25th 2012 @ 11:37am
      Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

      Mid, Zadkovich imo treads a fine line between being competitive and an unhinged control of temperament that sees him pick up cheap yellows, or more than his share of cards.

      He was lucky last week to stay on. I suspect he’ll rest for a few games this season due to suspension. Difference is from the past is that there is good cover for his position/s this year.

      GVE has built good depth and totally agree that he’s building for the long term (particularly his involvement with the Emerging Jets program), so hopefully the season doesn’t go south for the Jets and his position is questioned as stability will be important to fine tune what he is building there.

      Which segways nicely to Tinkler and ownership stability: Nothing linking his current financial troubles and the sporting teams of HSG but questions are out there. A while ago there was some reports of Knights staff not receiving super payments but that is sorted. I think the Jets would keep any delayed player payments quiet but that cannot go on too long without affecting the playing group, some of whom were around during the Con Crisis and the Licence Saga earlier in the year would be familiar to many.

      The local rag, The Newcastle Herald are not doing Tinkler any favours. Small and medium businesses up and down the Hunter have been reported as being owed money by Tinkler linked companies, and of course a couple of the big groups will get their dues due to a larger war chest while the little guys will probably miss out because sticks just don’t hurt anyone anymore.

      My position on the Con Crisis has been that the FFA was prepared to let the Jets go to make a 10 team comp as well as the FFA didn’t have any finances to keep them (or any team entering financial difficulties) afloat. Tinkler arrived and saved the Jets at the right time, helping the FFA directly or indirectly depending on your point of view.

      The club has been doing good things with memberships, community, communication, and youth development that the Jets would be sorely missed if Tinkler suddenly declared bankruptcy and the Jets folded.

      I think if that happened, the FFA (particularly after a new media deal) would enter a caretaker role with the Jets until new owner/s were found.

      The shame with that scenario is the disruption to the club and what it has built already, and where it might end up with some stability over the next 5 years.

    • October 25th 2012 @ 12:31pm
      Newcastle Michael said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      Jets best form of defence will be to attack on the flanks, limiting how much MVFC can go forward on their flanks (unless the play up through the middle). A battle of the flanks. I’m not sure either team will have a lot of luck through the middle with Zadkovich & Wheelhouse (or Kantarovski) holding mids for Newcastle and Melbourne using Milligan as a screener in front of a back 4. Unless of course Heskey out-bustles Milligan (a possibility).

      • Roar Guru

        October 25th 2012 @ 12:43pm
        Philip Coates said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

        I suspect Leijer will try and match up on Heskey wherever possible and in all aerial duels or at stoppages leaving Milligan free to clean up and distribute the ball.

      • Roar Guru

        October 25th 2012 @ 1:25pm
        Griffo said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

        Much has been made of Heskey’s size and holding ability, but Leijer would not shy away from making his presence felt to the Jets Marquee.

        I think Leijer is going to have to time his tackles well though as Heskey is a seasoned pro, as well as Leijer not always timing his tackles that well.

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