Suffering Newcastle Jets will get in our faces, says Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold

January 2, 2015 – 7:13PM

Sebastian Hassett

Football reporter

Beware the wounded animal: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is wary of a Newcastle side humiliated 5-2 by Melbourne City ahead of Saturday's clash in Wollongong.

Beware the wounded animal: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is wary of a Newcastle side humiliated 5-2 by Melbourne City ahead of Saturday’s clash in Wollongong. Photo: James Alcock

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has warned his players that the Newcastle Jets, fresh from being humiliated 5-2 by Melbourne City on home soil during the week, will be out for revenge at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.

While the Jets would seem little or no chance of making the finals after winning just one of their opening 13 matches, the manner in which they were destroyed by a Robert Koren-inspired City outfit appeared to signal the mood of a team that had hit rock bottom.

That’s left Arnold more than a little nervous as he prepares to make the trip down the highway for the match in Wollongong.

“The first thing we have to do is look at our own performance and stick to our game plan but, for Newcastle, there’s two ways of reacting after a heavy loss like that,” he said. “One is to come out firing, wanting to prove people wrong, or to be still sulking. But I know [coach] Phil Stubbins, and players like Joel Griffiths, Ben Kantarovski and David Carney, and they’ll be looking for redemption.”

However, the Sky Blues badly need a result themselves, having failed to win in the past month and losing track of the top four. A nil-all draw against Brisbane Roar did little to inspire confidence – although it did at least bring a clean sheet.

“We don’t want to put emphasis on one certain game but this is a game we want to win. It’s a game we’re going out to win. At this moment, we’re still going over the players to see how they pulled up after the Brisbane match,” Arnold said. “There’s no excuses. We have an obligation to our supporters to fight and perform for 90 minutes. It was pretty warm in Brisbane the other night but it was a step forward.”

It’s the first elite competitive league match played in Wollongong since the demise of the Wollongong Wolves, with the final match taking place at WIN Stadium on April 29, 2004. Ironically, the Jets – then just known as Newcastle United – were the opponent that day, as the Wolves farewelled the National Soccer League with a 3-0 win.

While the region has provided ample numbers of A-League players in recent years – most recently giving Sydney FC gun teenage left-back Alex Gersbach – many are viewing this as a dry run as Football Federation Australia contemplates expanding the A-League. A big crowd would give head office plenty to think about by way of an expansion club in the Illawarra.

However, Arnold is confident the crowd will be very much pro-Sydney FC.

“It’s a ground-breaking day, the first A-League game ever in Wollongong, and we’ve got a lot of supporters down in the south,” he said. “Hopefully they turn up in good numbers.”

The Sky Blues’ coach is still reeling from the events of late 2014 when he lost four players to season-ending injuries, leaving him short-staffed over the festive period. However, new signings are imminent, with ex-Fulham midfielder Mickael Tavares said to be the main target.

“We’re a long way down the path with a former international player, who has a good pedigree,” Arnold said. “We’re just waiting for the final tick on that as an injury replacement player. If that happens, we’ll be very happy. He’s a number 6, a defensive midfielder.

“Milos Dimitrijevic and Terry Antonis have done a great job in there but they’re both attack-minded, so I need someone who can come in and add a bit of bite to the midfield, which is what you need in the A-League these days. I’m looking at one foreigner and one local player to bring some extra depth and get back to where we were in pre-season with two players for every position.”

 

Source : The Canberra Times

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