With the grand finalists set and the season almost complete, we head straight into the talking points from the second week of the A-League finals.
Ex-Newcastle Jets striker Ryan Grffiths is returning to the A-League after a year-long stint with Beijing Baxy in Chinese League One – but he won’t be returning to his former club.
It was announced earlier today that the 32-year-old Griffiths will link with Adelaide United for the remainder of the season, and pending a medical could join his new teammates on the flight to Brisbane to face the Roar this Saturday.
Bruce Djite and Fabio Ferreira’s respective groin injuries from last Friday’s 2-2 draw with Sydney added to the Reds’ dearth of attacking options, with Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio also sidelined with soft-tissue injuries.
On that front the signing of a striker with Griffiths’ experience makes perfect sense, though whether he will fit in with Josep Gombau’s possession-based philosophy is another issue altogether.
What seems harder to explain, however, is Newcastle’s reluctance to bring in their former frontman, who left Hunter Stadium for China in the second half of the last A-League season.
Indeed, Griffiths’ own comments on Twitter in response to an article from Newcastle Herald journalist James Gardiner indicate he would have been partial to returning.
@JamesGardiner42 good articles mate. But to be called a fallback player and second preference player by staff at jets is a little rough.
— Ryan Griffiths (@RyuGriff) January 6, 2014
It appears Gary van Egmond and the Jets’ football department are clinging to the forlorn hope of retaining Nathan Burns, who is expected to return to Korean club Incheon United when his current loan expires after Friday’s game with Melbourne Victory.
Nothing from either the Jets or Burns’ management indicates that the loan deal is likely to be extended, despite the issue being discussed for the best part of a month.
With Adam Taggart, who has scored six of Newcastle’s 13 goals for the season, unavailable for the next three games and Emile Heskey still yet to find the target in seven appearances the club’s strikepower looks decidedly thin should they not hang onto Burns.
With all due respect to Joey Gibbs, who at 21 can still develop into a quality attacker, it is hard to argue that Griffiths wouldn’t have boosted the club’s striking options.
This is a team that has been kept scoreless seven times in 13 matches so far this season and sit precariously in sixth on the A-League ladder, potentially facing a fourth-straight year of failing to make the finals.
So to pass on Griffiths, who with 19 goals sits behind only brother Joel on the club’s list of all-time leading scorers, seems baffling to say the least.
Of course, Newcastle management may very well know something that I don’t regarding Burns, or may have other options available during the January transfer window.
But if the month comes and goes and the Jets’ scoring problems continue, questions should be asked as to why Griffiths was not considered the best man for the job, and why favourite sons like he and Joel are returning to Australia to play football elsewhere.