Newly appointed Newcastle Jets coach Mark Jones believes making the Finals Series is very much possible as he talked up the city’s football culture at his unveiling on Friday.
The club’s former assistant has been handed the head coaching reins and will work alongside fellow Novocastrian Clayton Zane as the pair attempt to mastermind the Jets return to finals football for the first time since 2010.
With the new season now just two weeks away Jones was unsure if he’d get the chance to add to his squad but felt the roster he’s inherited has the ability to compete with the top teams.
“It’s a decent roster and hopefully we can be competitive. We’d like to make the top six,” said Jones.
“We’ll need to organise tactically and technically so that we’ve got a decent shot at that.
“Top six is our goal and of course it’s realistic. It’s something that we’d like to achieve and I think we can.”
The Jets will play a Wanderers side on Saturday still smarting from their mid-week FFA Cup exit at the hands of Melbourne City.
The clash at Cessnock Showground, which will be streamed live on the Jets website, will be Jones’ first chance to see his squad in action.
Jones said Zane, who had taken charge of the side on an interim basis following the departure of Scott Miller, would oversee the match as he settles into his new role.
“I don’t want to come in and change everything. I want to have a look and subtly make some changes as we go along,” said Jones.
“Certainly Scott has done a good job in terms of a playing formation and basic approach to game day.”
Jones was granted a release from his post at Adelaide United, where he had recently been appointed the Reds’ W-League coach, in order to take up the challenge of coaching in his home town.
It’s an opportunity he’s set to relish – and he’s counting on the club’s supporters, who still turned up in a great numbers last season despite the club’s losing run – to help revive the Jets’ fortunes.
His first test will come against his former employers on the opening weekend of the season, with Jones urging fans to turn up to Hunter Stadium in numbers for the clash against the reigning champions.
“We know the culture here. We’ve both been here, we’ve won the title. It is possible,” said Jones.
“Whether coaching or playing I’ve always believed that people from Newcastle can be as good if not better than anyone in the country and we’re here to show that.”