THE LOWEDOWN: A win well deserved

THE Lowedown, Take Two! Damn you, Jets. Kids never, ever plan too far aheadand get your homework done early. You’ll only have to re-write it, or type it as you youngsters do today .

I had written what I thought was an insightful answer to a series of questions/statements posed by regular “letters to the editor” contributor Daryll Hadfield, of Redhead, who was basically bemoaning what the Jets are producing, and suggesting that the fans deserve much better.

Then lo and behold, the Jets pop up and win, avoid all sorts of ugly milestones and records, and the fans toddle off home with a smile on theirfaces.

So it’s either a re-write, or risk being a “negative Nigel” (the radio advertising character, not Boogaardthe Jets skipper) and run with the sombre appraisal I’d prepared.

A writer with thick skin and conviction in his work would probably stick to his original piece, cop the barbs around town for a week, and move on.

Me, I’m scoffing into the BBQ Shapes while writing a second piece, and saying well done to a team who arenot the prettiest, nor most talented, but whotryhard on a weekly basis, and areusually difficult to break down.

Do I think the fans deserve better than that? I’m not sure “deserve” is the right word, although it would be lovely to pop in each fortnight and watch a free-flowing, cavalier, swashbuckling Jets, romping to victory after overpowering their opposition.

The reality is the team and the club don’t have the resources to do that on anything remotely approaching a consistent basis.

I wondered in my first draft whether we had been somewhat spoiled by a title and two top-four finishes in the first three years of the the A League’s existence, when I presume the relative spending of all clubs was fairly level. The odd marquee player, here and there, aside.

For instance, I would like to compare the expenditure on the players of Con Constantine’s title-winning Jets side in 2008, to Sydney FCand Melbourne Victoryof that day.

I fancy it would be much closer to parity then today’s version, where a variety of marquee concessionsmean that one team’s player budget can comfortably be up to three times bigger than others.

If you spent three times as much as me on a car, you’d be mightily disappointed if you didn’t get better performance.

Then factor in the money behind Melbourne City and the Wanderers, who weren’t even born when Mark Bridge’s goal brought the title up the F3.

Am I suggesting it’s harder to win an A League title in 2016 than it was in 2008? Unquestionably, and even more so if you are a lower-budget side from a non-capital city.

A quick glance at the results of the Mariners and Jets in recent seasons indicates steady decline and not too much cause for optimism abouta turnaroundany time soon.

It’s no coincidence that Graham Arnold, one of the shrewdest operators and coaches in the country, exited the Central Coast at just the right time.

Having said that, do I think the Jets could be doing better than they are? Yes, but not to any large degree.

They needed a change or a freshen-up, I suggested last week, as did a number of “experts”, and the chance would come against an ailing Wellington side, after a very tough run against some of the league’s heavyweights.

And to his credit, Scott Miller seized the moment, went to a four-four-two, played David Carney closer to Milos Trifunovic, and probably posed questions that three of Wellington’s back four have rarely faced before.

The three youngsters in Ernie Merrick’s defence had 12A-League games between them, and even Andrew Durante’s 200-plus games of experience would battle to organise and coax them to a result.The Phoenix fullbacks weren’t sure whether to push on, tuck in ormake runs into yawning spaces when they had the ball, and as a result really struggled positionally.

Carney, who has previously provided tutorials in crossing, dribbling, inverted wing play, and set pieces, then put on a mini-master class to provide two of the Jets’ goals.

Trifunovic enjoyed his company and so did we old farts in the crowd, cheekily suggesting the win could be revoked on review in midweek, due to failure to correctly apply the curriculum.

I’m not going to fall for the trap of thinking a season is suddenly transformed, however.An undermanned Wellington still enjoyed had too many shots for my comfort.

As Miller noted, the boys should enjoy the win, because they had endured mounting psychological pressure leading up to this fixture.

Should we expect better in weeks to come? The Jets could certainly use a couple of good signings in the transfer window. However, I’m not sure the pleas of the coaching staff won’t fall on deaf ears.

For the vast majority of the almost 40 years of national league football in this country, Newcastle’s No.1problem has been a lack of financial resources.

It explains the haste with which Nathan Tinkler was handed the reins to play saviour.

That is still the case today, and whilewe could point the finger at the FFA and request more investment in the project, we must also accept they have other priorities.

Hunter football fans are quintessentially good, loyal peopleand understandably they’d like to watch a more competitive side.

If, as we hope one day soon, the fans get a chance to have a stake in the club, and can help resource it to a level approaching the league’s leading clubs, then can the punters truly insist “we deserve something better”.

A HARD-EARNED THIRST: Newcastle Jets coach Scott Miller congratulates his players after Sunday’s victory against Wellington Phoenix at Hunter Stadium.

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