Newcastle coach Craig Deans will have a new, and he believes improved, attack for the Jets’ toughest W-League campaign under his watch.
The 2017-18 W-League draw was released Monday with the Jets given two matches against last year’s grand final winners Melbourne City, premiers Canberra and third-placed Sydney.
The Jets, fifth last season, will also play Adelaide twice, meaning they will take on Western Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne Victory once in the 12-game, 14-round season, starting against Wanderers on October 29 at McDonald Jones Stadium (MJS). It will be one of five home double headers with the club’s A-League side at the stadium. Their other home match will be against Canberra at No.2 Sportsground in round four.
This season will be Deans’ third in charge and it shapes as his most challenging.
“I think the first year I came in we got pretty luck with the draw,” Deans said. “Last year we had a tougher draw but this year’s is definitely more difficult. In some ways it’s good because you get to play the teams you want to get to the level of.”
While Matildas Gema Simon and Chloe Logarzo are expected to return, Deans was reluctant to discuss recruits because contracts are not yet available to sign.
However, he said Rhali Dobson, who played once for Australia, would not be re-signed and Libby Copus-Brown was trialling in England. Another local, Grace Macintyre, will be away, while Americans Jen Hoy and Megan Oyster are not returning. Deans wanted different attackers to Dobson and Hoy after the Jets scored 18 goals last year.
“I’ve had two years now to have a good look at the people who were here when I took over, and they’ve had two seasons to show me where they’re at,” Deans said.
“Last year we were close to making the finals but we weren’t quite there, so I think I needed to make some changes. We haven’t scored enough goals the past two years and I think if we keep bringing back the same attacking players, we’re going to get the same result. I’ll have two new players in attacking areas and I think that will be good for us.”
Deans said the Jets, who come under the Newcastle A-League club’s control this year, could not yet compete with the big city teams in terms of player payments but having No.2 Sportsground as a training ground was a plus.
“We know we have to be organised and work as a team, because we don’t a team of superstars. We just have a team of good players and we work hard together.”
“To be fair to the Jets, with the announcement of No.2 as our training ground and the infrastructure the club is putting around the team, I think with off-field things, we’re not too far off other clubs in the W-League.
“Money-wise, it’s just where we’re at, but I think in time, we’ll get there.”