2011/12 Review: Newcastle Jets
Change in position from 2010/11: No change
Win-draw-loss record: 10-5-12
(38 goals scored, 41 goals conceded)
Highest goalscorer: Jeremy Brockie (9), Ryan Griffiths (9)
Average attendance: 12,117
With the new owner Nathan Tinkler in place and an impressive pre-season, there were high hopes and much optimism for the future of the Newcastle Jets, but the season started like so many others; in turmoil. Just days before the season kicked off, coach Branko Culina was ousted and the lauded signing of his son Jason left in tatters as the new Jets owner swung the axe to leave the club in disarray. In the form of previous coach Gary van Egmond, the prodigal son returned. Much to the delight of the majority of fans, the man known as ‘Dutchie’ did a complete U-turn and returned to the club.
Despite the pre-season confusion the team started positively with a win over Melbourne Heart but their form lacked consistency. Just when they looked like growing into genuine top four material, they produced a performance akin to a Sunday pub team. Naturally, van Egmond had introduced his style of play. However, the squad had been coached and built in another altogether. For all intents and purposes, at times it looked like a side that didn’t know which way they were supposed to play; and thats exactly what it was. Captain Kasey Wehrman had proven to be the teams most influential player more often than not, but he was overlooked for disciplinary reasons unknown – but thought to be due to a disagreement between coach and player. This was the Jets undoing. The midfielder started just fourteen games this season, and his leadership qualities were sadly lacking in a midfield that was often outplayed, out-thought and out-muscled.
The team managed to stay in the right half of the table throughout, but the inconsistency finally led to their demise. After demolishing Sydney FC earlier in the season with an impressive display, the Jets faced their NSW rivals on the last day of the season needing a point to make the finals. Just when they needed a big performance they couldn’t deliver and capitulated – pretty much the story of their season.
Most Valuable Player: Jeremy Brockie. 27 appearances, 9 goals, 2 bookings.
Despite what will be viewed as a poor season for the Jets, there were some highlights. Jeremy Brockie played 27 games and scored 9 goals, many of them crucial. He started the pre-season in a central attacking role and his pace and intelligent use of the ball was a joy to watch. He carried that form into the new season and his goals were quite unexpected and often spectacular. A volley against Sydney in round 11 had everyone applauding, and a brace against Perth Glory was also memorable for some sublime finishing. The fact that the Jets managed to stay in contention throughout the season despite some poor form can be attributed to Brockie. He knows how to use the ball when it’s at his feet, he knows how to make use of space around him, with or without the ball, and maybe above all he certainly knows how to score.
Rising Star: Taylor Regan. 20 appearances, 3 bookings
With the introduction of Brazilian Tiago Calvano to the squad to join up with Nikolai Topor-Stanley, it seemed that the Jets central defensive pairing was settled. Young defender Taylor Regan would have been excused for thinking he wouldn’t get much game time. The truth is that he played 20 games and hardly ever put a foot wrong. For someone so young, this can only bode well for the Jets central defensive future. Regan is a big bustling player that is happy to get stuck in when required but has a cultured style to his play and continues to prove his worth. Having recently signed a two-year extension to his contract at the club, the local boy looks set for a long future with the Newcastle Jets.
Most Underachieving Player: Marko Jesic. 6 appearances, 0 goals, 0 bookings
A fabulous young prospect, but a long series of injuries has faltered his progress. Jesic can score some fabulous goals, but he can often frustrate and annoy the fans. It seems a touch harsh to criticise a player that has undergone two knee reconstructions in his short career, but having only managed six games this season and not scored any goals, it’s more of a reflection of his bad luck than anything else. Given a full season and no problems, he has the potential to light up any game and would hold a place in every A-league team. The Jets fans and staff can only hope that next season he finally gets the chance to do just that.
Most Underrated Player: Kasey Wehrman. 13 appearances, 2 bookings
Kasey Wehrman was the teams backbone and provided the steel across the midfield, a crucial part of a team’s success, but he so much more than that. Whilst he does possess the tough exterior so vital for a central midfielder, he can also split the defence with a pass or a through ball that can provide the ammunition for his strikers. Wehrman isn’t getting any younger and its a crying shame that he might leave the Jets having not had the chance to continue to show what he can do. It’s no coincidence that the Jets season petered out at the time when they were within striking distance of another appearance in the competition’s finals when Wehrman was just a bit-part player. That time of the season requires leadership, experience and a fantastic football brain, all of which Wehrman has in spades.
What do you think? Did we get our selections right? Have your say on the Newcastle Jets’ season below…