Isuzu UTE A-League season preview: Newcastle Jets

Enjoy KEEPUP’s season countdown with our club-by-club previews. Scroll down to the foot of the page to access your club’s article.

Another year, another overhaul – after last season began promisingly, Jets fans had their hopes dashed, and the grand final appearance of 2018 seemed a long time ago.

Major ins: Matthew Jurman, Dane Ingham, Mohamed Al-Taay, Riley Warland, Beka Mikeltadze, Jordan Elsey, Olivier Boumal, Dylan Murnane, Samuel Silvera, Savvas Siatravanis, Kosta Grozos, Daniel Penha

Major outs: Joey Champness, Nigel Boogaard (retired), Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ali Abbas, Roy O’Donovan, Matt Millar, Lewis Italiano, James Donachie, Connor O’Toole, Johnny Koutroumbis

Coach: Arthur Papas

Jets record: n/a

For a man who has coached for more than a decade, it’s remarkable that much of Papas’s experience has come overseas. After stints in India, Saudi Arabia and Japan (where he was assistant to Ange Postecoglou at Yokahama F Marinos), Papas has finally been given the A-League opportunity many judges have long called for.

A decade ago he was Jets youth coach (and first team assistant) so already knows the club from the inside. The challenge will be to develop the sort of hard-working, intensive playing style the club’s fans demand, despite the significant turnover of players since last season.

Arthur Papas has coached for over a decade – mostly overseas.

Can’t take your eyes off: Olivier Boumal

The Cameroonian has six caps for his country, but has made clear to Arthur Papas that he wants to use his time in Newcastle to earn a recall for the African Cup of Nations – ambition that is music to the ears of Papas.

To say that Boumal, who will cheerfully play anywhere along the forward line, has had a chequered career is something of an understatement. Boumal spent most of his youth career playing in France then spent a lot of his playing time in Greece with several clubs before trying his hand in Asia, including China and Japan.

The latter move brought him under the wing of Ange Postecoglou, at Yokohama F Marinos, and Papas is counting on Boumal’s pace and left-footed trickery to add a more potent attacking threat.

Olivier Boumal has ambitions to play at the African Cup of Nations for Cameroon.

Reasons to be cheerful

Getting Papas is seen as quite a coup for Jets chairman Shane Mattiske, after he was linked with a number of other A-League roles in the past. Having long ago been handpicked for a coaching scholarship at the AIS aged just 29, Papas has served quite an apprenticeship.

He has assiduously worked his contacts in world football to recruit a clutch of new players, and brought in a solid Australian core in the form of signings such as Jordan Elsey and newly appointed captain Matthew Jurman.

The acquisition of Boumal, Georgian Beka Mikeltadze and Brazilian Daniel Penha promises excitement in the front third, with Penha having already made the fans take note with a powerful freekick in the FFA Cup.

Meanwhile Greek striker Savvas Siatravanis is tasked with scoring the goals to replace Roy O’Donovan, having worked under Papas’s right hand man, Arthur Diles, previously in Greece.

Matthew Jurman (left) brings Socceroos experience to the Jets defence.

… and reasons to be fearful

While it’s true that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, the cracking of the eggs doesn’t by itself guarantee a perfect end dish. Similarly Arthur Papas has gone through the pain of an extensive squad makeover, dispensing with roughly three-quarters of last year’s group of Jets players and replacing them with 15 hand-picked signings.

Now comes the bigger challenge of melding those new faces into a coherent and proactive unit that can return the Jets to a position of challenging for the title, more than three years after the contested the 2018 Grand Final.

The Newcastle faithful have had enough false dawns and bold statements to be justified in holding a sceptical eye to the coming season, though they don’t need much excuse to get behind their team when things do go well.

Fans’ eye – by Todd Blackwell

Why we believe: Newy is a special place, with a long football history. I found myself in a life changing situation in 2004, to retain a link with my then Young Adults, we got into supporting the Socceroos, then the Newcastle Jets being the local team in the National competition.

I can honestly say the only reason I’m still around today is because of the support of the Newy “Football Family”.

I’ve got a lot of faith in what Arthur, and the Jets want to achieve this season.

Who we believe: We are in a unique situation in Newy this season, with basically a completely new squad. New Manager, Arthur Papas, has picked up some amazingly talented players, from all over, and the opportunity is there for basically anyone to be a new fan favourite.

Personally, after the heartbreak of so many great players departing last year, it leaves me with only one choice, a bloke I consider to be the epitome of Newy Football, Jason “the G.O.A.T” Hoffman. My darkhorse for the new season, though, is Archie Goodwin.

Jason Hoffman is a huge favourite with the Newcastle support.

The magic of matchday is… Just being there to share a couple of hours of quality time with family. I’ve been lucky enough in this life to be “adopted” by some truly amazing human beings, from such a wide range of cultures and walks of life.

Always fantastic catching up with them, whether it be at home, at Central Coast or CommBank, formally known as Wanderland. Football is the World Game for a reason.

If I could change one thing about my club… Not a lot to be honest, I think after the recent hard times and other uncertainties of the last several years, the club is in a good position to challenge for a top spot on the ladder this season.

I’m eternally grateful to the people that have left the Jets in the condition we are in, you know who you are. But hey, an owner that understands Newy football, would be nice.


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

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