RUBEN Zadkovich desperately wants the Newcastle Jets, a team he captained, to do well in the A-League.
He loves that good friend Nikolai Topor-Stanley is back at the club and is excited by new arrivals Roy O’Donovan, Dimi Petratos and Daniel Georgievski.
On Wednesday, Zadkovich, now coach of Broadmeadow Magic, will get a first-hand look at the Jets outfit and test “his” football against an A-League side.
“To coach against the club I was captain of is a cool thing,” he said. “I’d love to see Daniel Georgievski, Roy O’Donovan and people like that do really well. It will also be great to pitch my boys, my football, and how I think the game should be played against an A-League team. When we put it together, we have shown we can play pretty good football.”
Magic have a bye in the NNSW NPL this weekend and Zadkovich plans to field his strongest team.
“For someone like Mitch Oxborrow it is a great opportunity," he said.
“He is trying to push for an A-League club and he deserves it 100 per cent. We also have a few prospects who could make it to a higher level. They still need development and I’m trying to give them as much football education as I can. Wednesday is an opportunity for me to throw them in the deep end and challenge them to do a job.”
After a slow start, Magic have notched eight straight wins, including two in the FFA Cup, to resurrect their campaign. In the blistering run they have scored 25 goals and conceded just four.
“We had so much bad luck in the first round of the competition,” Zadkovich said. “I knew it couldn’t continue like that. We were playing some really good stuff in games and having draws or losing 1-0. We had losses where we batted teams and the opposition goalkeeper gets man of the match.”
After seven rounds, the perennial powerhouse sat in seventh place on 13 points with just three wins.
“It was more frustrating than disappointing,” Zadkovich said. “I had to remind myself – and was reminded by people who know me well – change doesn’t happen quickly when it comes to a football club. Sometimes you need to strip it right back before you can get to where you need to be. We hit rock bottom before we realised how it was going to work for us and how hard we had to work. Now they are getting the rewards.”
The result is a versatile side that can adapt styles and systems to suit the occasion.
“We have worked on compressing space when we are defending and having different ways we can defend,” Zadkovich said. “We also have different ways we can attack and different formations we use for different things. If we want to keep the ball we can or we can be direct if we want to be direct. The mix-up in our game is really strong at the moment.”