Jets’ ALM fixture change frustrates Papas

Newcastle coach Arthur Papas has fired off at the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) for bringing the club’s next A-League Men game forward 24 hours and changing their opponents at short notice.

Papas’ side were supposed to face the exiled Perth Glory in Wollongong on Wednesday, but will now host Melbourne City at home on Tuesday night.

The Jets missed six weeks of action due to COVID-19 and are now playing catch-up on the rest of the league.

A frustrated Papas said his side, who will now play their third game in nine days, had endured a disrupted week of training and recovery when they were informed of the late fixture change on Saturday.

“To be told: ‘Oh by the way, you’re going to play a day earlier against a different opponent’ – I’m not pleased about it,” Papas said.

“It’s the first time in my career that something like that has happened. It’s challenging beyond challenging to flip things like that.

“Everything is about planning and process and clearly, I know the circumstances are difficult for everyone, but for me it doesn’t sit well that these things happen.”

Papas said he had yet to be given an explanation why the fixture had been changed.

“The right word (to describe the Jets’ situation) is probably difficult to find because it would be really strong. You can’t just flip things like that and expect everyone to adjust like this,” Papas added.

Since returning from their COVID-19 enforced break the Jets have lost 2-1 to Adelaide United before a 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar last Thursday.

The Newcastle coach hopes to have the A-League Men joint-top goalscorer Beka Mikeltadze back on deck for Tuesday’s clash after he missed the Roar win with calf tightness.

“Beka has trained well,” Papas said of the Georgian striker who has five goals in six games this campaign.

“We will probably make some changes, especially with the circumstances that have occurred in making us play a game 24 hours prior against a team we had not prepared for.”