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That’s why we’re determined to get it right in the last round against Central Coast Mariners and go into the playoffs in good form. We’ve talked about it a lot this week and put things into practice on the training field. Now it’s time for action.


The derby game against the Mariners is perfect timing for us.


We hadn’t lost two games in a row all season before now, so to lose three straight is a real learning curve for us. Ernie Merrick and the players have worked hard to establish what went wrong in those games and much of it has been to do with us not sticking to our structures or getting our combinations right.


Basically, we veered off course from what we normally do.


It isn’t to do with effort. We’ve still been doing all the running we normally do in games, but it hasn’t been effective running. It’s been wasted effort.


I think there’s also been an element of us knowing we were going to finish second and taking our foot off the pedal a bit. That can happen in football, but it still can’t be excused. We’d been consistent all season and we’ve got to get that back before it’s too late.


Daniel Georgievski in action for the Newcastle Jets. Photo: Sproule Sports Focus




Before the season began, all of us – coaches, players and staff – went to a function centre in the Hunter Valley for a day-long meeting to set goals.


Everyone had the chance to speak and a lot of good, positive stuff came out. No-one was being dragged down by the fact the Jets had missed the finals for seven straight years.


I told the group there was no reason we couldn’t finish in the top three.


The club had made a number of excellent retention and recruitment decisions. We had also signed a two-time A-League championship-winning coach in Ernie.


I won a championship under Kevin Muscat at Victory in the 2014-15 season, so I know what a winning team feels like. I loved the look of what we had at the Jets.


It turned out that everyone pushed the top-three idea. We weren’t cocky, just realistic. We had a shared belief that pulled us together as a group.


This was only two weeks into pre-season and there were a lot of new faces at the club, some of whom had played against each other but weren’t familiar personally. Yet the thinking was the same. Everyone could see the potential and were prepared to set the bar high. I was impressed by that. You don’t see it all the time in football.


Ernie didn’t say a lot that day, but you could tell he was absorbing everything going on around him. He was trying to learn who we were as individuals. We weren’t even a team yet. This was just the start.


Our season began well – we were unbeaten in the first six rounds – and even when we started getting injuries to key players, it didn’t stop us. Ernie made adjustments and the players who came in did the job.


Our coach tells it like it is and that’s the way it’s got to be. There’s no soft-soaping the players or letting them make excuses. If we play badly, Ernie says it straight, but then he adds that we can fix it and offers the solution.


Eventually, everyone out there accepted that the Jets were real and headed for the finals and with half-a dozen rounds to go it was pretty clear only Sydney FC were going to finish ahead of us over the 27 rounds.


What happens after that is up to us.


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