Why isn’t Ryan Griffiths returning to Newcastle?

Chad Bennett Editor

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    The Newcastle Jets travel to Wellington in search of their first win of the season. (Image: Supplied)

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    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.

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • January 8th 2014 @ 2:55pm
      Rising Power said | January 8th 2014 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

      Handy pick up for the Reds

    • January 8th 2014 @ 2:57pm
      Franko said | January 8th 2014 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

      I don’t think he wanted to play ‘second fiddle’ to Burns:

      ‘‘I was talking with the Jets, but they were unsure about the situation with Burnsy,’’ Griffiths said.

      ‘‘I would have preferred to stay in Newcastle. I have always tried my hardest for the club and it felt like home, but I didn’t really want to be second choice.

      ‘‘Adelaide came in with a good offer out of left field. It wasn’t my intention to go to another A-League club and I hope the Jets fans forgive me. But Adelaide were really keen and made a big effort to get me on board. It was nice to be really wanted.’’

    • January 8th 2014 @ 3:39pm
      premy said | January 8th 2014 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

      So its fine for you to put the Club at 2nd preference when you left in the lead up to the finals last year? He stated just a few days ago that his preference is to head back to Asia.

      I’m sorry Ryan all you had to do was wait a few days to see if the club would have space for you in the squad. If you truly wanted to come back you would of gave it every chance, seems to me you have once again played the club and us fans just to get yourself a contract else where.

      Thanks for the years service both NSL & A-League, see you later.

    • January 8th 2014 @ 7:43pm
      Mateo Corbo said | January 8th 2014 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

      I am surprised that punters still speak about players and the lack of loyalty shown to clubs, while all the time acknowledging that players have the right to pursue better money and careers far afield during their short footballing careers.

      Fact is both Joel and Ryan Griffiths were greta and good players for the Jets, and for various reasons they did not come back when they were in between contracts. Sh*t happens.

      The Burns loan situation has dragged on way too long. Should have been settled a long time ago. It is either indicative of sloppy Jets administration or a slackness from Incheon. If Burns does leave, the Jets have ready replacement wingers in Taggart and Hoole, but not much else.

    • Roar Guru

      January 8th 2014 @ 9:06pm
      Griffo said | January 8th 2014 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

      I would have been surprised if Ryan signed for the Jets.

      Both parties have been a bit cagey since Ryan came home.

      If Ryan was looking to play in Malaysia, the Jets didn’t appear to know what he was up to.

      When Malaysia fell through, the Jets thought he was looking elsewhere and not interested, and Ryan tweeted he wasn’t going to beg for a contract at the Jets.

      The reasons Ryan left the Jets in the first place wasn’t solely just for money imo. If later tweets about Michael Bridges golden run later last season was any indication, Ryan wasn’t happy with the direction the team was going from coaching staff.

      So with the same setup in place, I couldn’t see Ryan signing up in a hurry unless he felt he could put up with what he left with only half the season remaining.

      Looking at the club it seems they are putting all their efforts into retaining Burns without a Plan B. Now at a minute before the 11th hour they got Ryan back at training just in case; Burns is going to be back in Korea in days and now Ryan is off to Adelaide.

      No real surprise there.

      The Jets should have a few options if Burns remains in Korea.

      Can they dangle a carrot of game time for Tom Rogić? Will they promote Kale Bradbury from the youth team?

      Remains to be seen if the Jets have any options at all – either of their own design or the scraps left over from other clubs.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 8th 2014 @ 10:42pm
      Norfolk said | January 8th 2014 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

      Great article! Really enjoyed the statistics woven into sentences rather than some weird info graph. I remember when there was turmoil at Jets, shortly after the Gold Coast United debacle and I think a few of the players hadn’t been paid. Ryan Griffiths was on Triple J and told a story of how he was half way through painting his house when the news broke, and he said he went to buy his daily coffee and the barista says, “Sorry to hear, have it for free mate” and Griffith says ‘Oh, it’s not THAT bad. Definitely my favourite of the three Griffiths brothers. I think at his age, whoever were the keenest got signature.

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