FRUSTRATION: Ben Kantarovski after Sydney’s second goal. Picture: Getty ImagesTHE statistics make grim reading.
Six games without a goal. Ten games without a win. A joint share of one A-League record, and two more looming large on the horizon.
But if Newcastle Jets fans had formed the opinion that things could hardly be worse, perhaps they should cast their minds back to the corresponding stage of last season.
In their second game of 2015, Newcastle suffered a club-record 7-0 hammering from Adelaide, beforecoach Phil Stubbins and a player reportedly almost came to blows. Within dayscontroversial owner Nathan Tinkler moved to sack five players and three members of the coaching staff.
A once-proud club was officially a basket case.
Twelve months on, Stubbins’ successor, Scott Miller, must be starting to realise what a tough gig he has inherited.Miller’s dream start of three wins fromhis first four games is fast fading from memory.Since their memorable 3-2 comeback against Melbourne City on October 30, the Jets have suffered six defeats and four draws.
Their most recent goal was a distant 559 minutes ago, by Ben Kantarovski against Brisbane on November 28.
EMOTIONAL CONTRAST: Ali Abbas celebrates a goal against his former Newcastle teamates. Picture: Getty Images
Theyare only the second team in A-League history to go six games without a goal, and are in danger of surpassing the recordstretch of 606 minutes set by now-defunct New Zealand Knights in season two of the A-League.
If they don’t beat Wellington at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, they will equal the Newcastle club-record winless stretch of 11 games.
THAT HURTS: Jason Hoffman reflects on Newcastle’s sixth game without a goal. Picture: Getty Images
Newcastle’s tallyof nine goals in 14 games is six fewer than their nearest rivals, and a remarkable 26 fewer than the A-League’s most potent team, Melbourne City.The fewest goals scored by any team in an A-League seasonwas 13 by the ill-fated Knights in 2006-07, but at that time the competition format was only 21 regular-season rounds.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have slid to eighth on the points table, more than a win adrift of the top six with 13 rounds to play. They desperately need to import some firepower in the January transfer window if they hope to avoid missing the finals for the sixth straight season.
Their dilemma was encapsulated ina comment from Foxtel analyst Robbie Slater about Jets striker Milos Trifunovic, who is Newcastle’s leading scorerthis season.
“For me, he looks like he doesn’t have any belief that he’s going toscore a goal, Trifunovic,” Slater said.
“And that goes for the rest of the Newcastle players.”