Liberty A-League season preview: Newcastle Jets

Two semifinals in 13 years tells the tale of underachievement at the Jets, but the arrival of a Norwegian international striker to add to a settled squad has instilled a quiet air of confidence that this won’t be another season bumping along near the bottom of the table.

Major ins: Bethany Gordon, Marie Markussen, Georgia Boric, Lucy Johnson, Kirsty Fenton, Sunny Franco, Elizabeth Eddy

Major outs: Tessa Tamplin, Rhianna Pollicina

Georgia Yeoman-Dale’s Predicted XI

  • Channel 10/Paramount+ football analyst Georgia Yeoman-Dale gives her verdict on the Newcastle Jets squad.

Strengths: “A balance of experience and youth, with the likes of Hannah Brewer, Gema Simon and Tara Andrews providing the leadership for Newcastle’s younger cohort to follow.”

Weakness: “It’s what they’ve struggled with for years, and that’s a lack of depth. Who’s coming off the bench to make an impact in this side?”

Key player: “Tara Andrews is a freak. She’s so hard to mark, her balance for a tall player is amazing. She can shoot with barely any backswing, she’s a prolific goalscorer. A presence in the box who can hold up the ball really well. 

“I think she’s still one of the best strikers we have in the competition.”

Verdict: “In and around the sides battling in the lower half of the table.”

Coach: Ash Wilson

Jets record: Played 12, won two, drawn one, lost nine.

After five years as the deputy to Craig Deans, Wilson was promoted to head coach last year and promptly herself promoted a clutch of youngsters whose development she has helped to oversee as head of the Jets academy.

As the first female head coach at the Jets, Wilson has had the club’s backing to build for the future, and is highly regarded for her work with the club’s youngsters. 

Landing Norwegian attacker Marie Markussen and US mifielder Elizabeth Eddy, when many clubs have struggled to bring in visa players, is seen as something of a coup, while she knows the current squad inside out. The challenge for Wilson now is to lift the Jets into the sdemifinals for what would be the first time in four years, and transfer those achievements in youth development into the elite space.

Newcastle head coach Ash Wilson is in her second year.

Can’t take your eyes off: Marie Markussen

If you wanted to bring in a player with a winning mentality, at just 24 Markussen could be the very definition. Marked out early as a special talent, she has played in the Champions League and three times for Norway; she was at Wolfsburg in the year the German club won its league and cup double, and won the Norwegian Women’s Cup this year and last with her most recent club, Valerenga.

Wilson has raved about Markussen’s competitiveness and drive; she should also add pace, directness and variety to the Jets’ attack.

Marie Markussen will add pace and variety to the Jets’ attack.

Reasons to be cheerful: in a league where player turnover often mitigates against consistency, the Jets have kept the bulk of last year’s squad intact as they seek to build a team that can challenge for honours. 

In truth last year the Jets were a lot better than finishing eighth would suggest, losing most games by the odd goal. Now more than half of last year’s playing group have re-signed, including co-captains Cassidy Davis and Gema Simon whose leadership is a vital aid for Ash Wilson.

That squad is an intriguing mix of experience, with the likes of Hannah Brewer amassing more than 100 W-League appearances, visa players in Markussen and Eddy, and young players promoted from the Jets academy such as as Kristy Fenton, Josie Morley and Lara Gooch.

Throw in the signing of a Young Matilda like Bethany Gordon, and Wilson has the ingredients to put a highly competitive side together.

Hanna Brewer of the Jets (right) has plenty of experience to offer.

… and reasons to be fearful: among the few departures from the Jets at the end of last season were two potentially key losses in Tessa Tampin and Rhianna Pollicina, who were first choices in the Jets starting XI last year. Tampin in particular was a stand out, winning the club’s Rising Star award on the back of a series of dominant displays, and her decision to take an offer in Switzerland leaves a sizeable hole to fill.

More broadly the Jets need to expand their attacking threat, and take the weight off Taras Andrews who top-scored with five goals last season. Markussen has been brought in both for her goalscoring and her ability to create, but the Jets will struggle to challenge for the top four without imprtoving on their tally last season of 14 goals in 12 games.


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

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