Ask The Boss social media series
Having launched our ‘Ask The Boss’ series earlier this year, Newcastle Jets supporters have flooded the Club with their questions and comments.
With no topic off limits and all the senior figures at the Jets up for questioning, we’ve done a deep dive into plenty of hot topics.
From recruitment, ownership, merchandise, staffing, football philosophy, and strategy, no question has gone untouched.
Below you will find the series so far in video and print.
Executive Chairman, Shane Mattiske
Q) The sale of the club to long-term owners surely is a top priority, what is the step-by-step plan to ensure this happens?
A) We do have a new ownership group and they have been great in terms of providing stability for the club. The focus now that we have that stability is growth and the owners aren’t looking for a short-term exit. They are here and they are focused on ensuring we do drive that growth. They do recognise the importance of having local interest in the club and we are focused on continuing our growth.
Q) Are there plans in place to expand the behind-the-scenes at the Newcastle Jets?
A) Firstly the staff have done a great job to get us through a tough period. We’re now investing in our team and we’re adding resources to Craig Deans and his staff. In the office, we’re providing resources as well and there are actually a couple of new roles that have come into the business. Membership is definitely an area we’re investing in and you’ll see a new campaign rolled out and we will put resources behind that. One of the positive things we did with the staff was give all the existing staff members comfort by giving them a contract moving forward. We have good people working inside the organisation and we know that they need some help and we’re putting things in place to support them.
Q) Are the Newcastle Jets thinking about a centre of excellence?
A) We are thinking about a centre of excellence. We do think that will be important for us and it will help us present a more professional view of the club in the community. It is on the agenda.
Q) What efforts are being made among players and coaching staff to enhance team culture?
A) With Craig Deans now moving to head coach, one of the things he has been focused on is team culture and we have great young players coming through. We’re now putting in place a program to ensure for both the A-League and W-League that we recognise achievements and we’re bringing in old players to celebrate major milestones along with other events.
Q) What is the direction of the club?
A) We want to compete. We want to fiercely compete, and we want to win grand finals.
Q) Are the current consortium just doing enough to get us by?
A) The ownership is supporting our direction and they’re demonstrating their commitment by investing in the club. The football staff here have more support now than ever before. We’re putting in new tools and resources for the team. The ownership sees the importance of having a club in Newcastle and having a sustainable model for the club.
Q) Any plans on engaging with the members advisory group?
A) Members are really important and we want to listen to our members. We had a strong membership base, and we need to get back to that. We’ve got a target right now to get back to 11,000 members in the next 12 months and for the future to reach 15,000 members. Something that we believe is entirely achievable and with the community here being so supportive, we just have to convince them to get up and stand behind the team.
Q) Will the Newcastle Jets be guaranteed to stay in Newcastle
A) Ultimately, the focus is to have a sustainable team, and that team being in Newcastle. We want to provide growth and sustainability. The Newcastle business community is really engaged with the club and they can see the potential of the plans that we are building.
Head Coach, Craig Deans
Q) It was mentioned that the club was seeking extra resources to add staff to the coaching group, was is the update with this situation?
A) It was a difficult off-season, and it was known that we needed extra resources for the club. We’ve added a video and performance analyst, which is a big appointment for us in terms of educating the players.
Q) How far do you think the young players can go?
A) We have some good young players in the squad at the moment and some of them have been here for two or three years. Some of these are also new additions that came in pre-season. Our academy is developing really well, and we’ve seen some of those players come into the team. Archie Goodwin and Blake Archbold have come through and Angus Thurgate has been here a while and is developing well.
Q) Where do you see us finishing realistically come the end of the season?
A) The easy answer is we want to play in finals. If we didn’t think that way and didn’t believe it was possible then we shouldn’t be in the positions that we are. We’ll be working hard every day to make sure we get in the top six. Our focus is purely on making finals. We’ve got a lot of improvement in us to make sure that happens, but we are working hard.
Q) What made you want to become a coach?
A) I had an interest in the overall concept of coaching. I was lucky enough to talk to good people about coaching while I was still playing and I wanted to go into it and help people have a lifestyle as a footballer. It’s a rewarding life but also a difficult one.
Q) Are you looking for another dedicated striker to finish the chances the team creates?
A) We’ve created a lot of opportunities in our games and can play attacking football. We have a lot of faith in the players we have and Roy O’Donovan is a proven goal scorer. We’re going to back the players we have but down the track, it is an area we will look to improve.
Q) Do you believe the team is playing well?
A) People can tell us we play good football all they like but I’m not interested if we are not winning. Playing nice football and creating chances but not scoring and winning games makes it irrelevant. The aim of the game at this level is to win. If you can win and play attractive football that is a bonus. At this moment our goal is to win games however possible.
Q) What brand of football are you trying to achieve?
A) Football that is entertaining and aggressive. When this club has been successful it has played attractive football and what I want to see is consistent performances. I want to play football that people from Newcastle can identify with. I want my players to back themselves and to not doubt their ability. It’s not easy and we are just trying to steady the ship but we’re building for the future.
Q) Are you working on new tactics and strategies?
A) Everyone works out everyone. That is the battle every week. The question on game day is which team adapts the best and which team nullifies the other team the best. We have played three at the back and a variety of different formations. We’ve counter-attacked in some games and been direct in other games, it depends on the opposition and the situation of the game.
General Manager, Lawrie McKinna
The most recent Ask The Boss featured Lawrie McKinna.
Q) After a few rough years financially, how do you see the next season for both W-League and A-League?
Obviously, for the last couple of years, we’ve running on skinny, so they’ve come in and are covering the running costs until they feel it’s time to sell the club, or the right investors are there to invest in the club and until they are satisfied with that because over the last couple of years we have had potential buyers and most of them never had the funds to come in and actually run the football club, so when that time is right, these guys will move the license on, it may just be partial sale of the club, so the future of the club; they’ve said they’ll invest and that’s W-League and A-League so they’ve stated to Deansy, they’ve stated to the club that they will invest in players and they want to know what recruitment is and Joel Griffiths and myself and Shane are working on that at the moment, so the next season for the club will definitely be a lot stronger. Because last season, with the instability of Martin Lee, losing ownership, and not investing any money, we couldn’t actually sign players until December.
Q) Is the club looking for new owners?
The ideal model would be to have multiple owners, so you’re not just relying on one owner chucking in money month after month, looking to spread the load and then hopefully you don’t have to spread the load because the club is self-sustainable, that’s the ideal goal. Same as Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC have multiple owners, WSW, MacArthur, these guys all have multiple owners so I think that’s what the consortium would think is the ideal situation.
Q) What is the best ownership model and fit for a club like Newcastle?
The current owners aren’t in for the long haul, but they are going to be in, for the next 18 months – 2 years, 3 years, they are going to be in until the right ownership model is found. I believe and they believe that having a Newcastle component in that ownership would be ideal for the region, and I firmly believe whether that’s 51%, 49%, 30%, or 100% ownership, it would be great to have some local businesses who invest that into the club and owners that are not just in for the short fix, that is not just in for the next 2-3 years, they are in for the long haul, that we can actually build a club and get the staff and help build it and be a sustainable club where you don’t need to have your hand out every year for an owner.
Q) How far ahead is the club currently planning for recruitment and retention?
At the moment we are actually in discussions with players, Joel Griffiths is working hard on that for next season and future seasons. We are probably talking to like 4-5 players at the moment to get them on board, we still don’t know what the salary cap’s gonna be, we don’t know what the distribution is gonna be from the league, we’re chucking the balls up in the air at the moment and seeing where they land, but we are definitely talking to 4-5 quality players. The new owners are happy to get a big-name player to come in, I’m not going to say it’s a marquee, but the owners have stated if we find the right player, then they are willing to invest in the club. On retention we’ve signed quite a few boys, there will be a couple of announcements over the next few weeks of players we have resigned, obviously, Maki Petratos have mutually terminated his contract. There is a transfer market opening in the next week or so, we could look to bring in players but it’s whether those players are going to be better than what we’ve got, but definitely looking to resign any players the coaches are looking to keep out of the current squad, and we are in talks at the moment about bringing in new players for next season.
Q) Looking long-term does the club have a vision to invest in youth development?
We have just announced Kew Jaliens as the new technical director in conjunction with Northern NSW, I think it’s a good set up, he’ll be helping with Northern, and I know he’s got a meeting this week., meeting up with all the NPL clubs and their technical directors, so I think it showed, we had Deansy there before, we are one of the few academies who look at the boys and the girls so I think we do invest heavily in that youth space, the amount of young girls we’ve got in young matilda’s squads is amazing, it’s brilliant, even the young boys coming through the academy, you’ve got Archie Goodwin, you’ve got Angus Thurgate, you’ve got all these boys that have actually come through the academy, so I think the future is looking good, can we do it better? Yes, we can do it better, the owners have made it quite clear they want to invest in youth development.
Q) Being owned by a Sydney consortium do you ever think we will really shine as our own entity?
We’ve got the two Sydney clubs and a couple of the other clubs; they basically saved the club so don’t look at it like ‘oh we’ll never be our own entity. These guys want us to shine, these guys want us to be in the final, these guys want us winning the game, they’ve come in and saved the club so that the clubs gonna be here, quite easily over the last two years the club could have folded and never have come back, nobody would have ever invested in Newcastle again, that’s why it was important the club stayed alive, these guys have made it happen, these guys have the best interest of Newcastle Jets and that’s why they have invested in the club.
Q) Heskey was our last marquee player, do you see us signing a player like this soon?
The owners are prepared to invest in a player if we come up with a player we want, it may not be Heskey but because of the market overseas and because Covid’s calmed down, it’s probably a good time now for clubs like us to bring in a guy who is essentially a marquee player for money the club can afford. The owners have said, if we come up with that player, they are willing to invest in them. That’s like getting the salary cup money and then investing above that. They need to understand why we want the player; what age is he? Can he contribute? Is he going to be a fan favourite? Are people going to recognise him as a top player?
Q) Please tell us you’re staying at the club, and at what capacity?
I’m general manager, Shane came in as Executive chairman, he answers to the board members, and obviously, I work underneath him and alongside him and that’s what’s been happening, everything at the club’s fine, I’ll be out and about but things have been hectic at the club and when you don’t have the full requirement of staff and that’s what’s happened, but we do have more, and we are putting on more over the next few weeks, it just takes time, so I’ll be here and my official title is General Manager but if I have to load the truck, empty the truck, be at the game, I’ll just be doing it the same as normal, you do what you have to do at a football club.
Football Manager, Joel Griffiths
The most recent Ask The Boss featured Joel Griffiths
Q) What is the morale like in the team, given the ownership and financial issues so far this season?
The morale has been quite good actually with everything we have had come our way and with the ownership and all that, it was very difficult, especially for myself to sign players because we were restricted in a way, ownership came in and the window was closed by that stage so we were left with the squad, we couldn’t build on what we had already, but the boys to their credit showed a lot of resilience, they all worked for each other, played for each other even though the results didn’t show that I felt the morale was still quite good, we just got on with what we had to do at training, hopefully in the near future the results will turn around and we can get up the leader board sometime soon.
Q) Where do you feel we are lacking depth at the moment?
I think we need to be more creative in the front third, when you look at the top teams, they have a stacked front line, a lot of X factor players that can change a game, just the littlest things, like Ninkovic, he’s 35 as well but I can’t see Sydney FC wanting to let him go, so it’s just about performance, there’s one thing identifying a player, but then you have to see if they adapt to what players we have at the club as well, there’s a lot of little hidden factors that go into making that decision. Now that we have pre-season to start looking at players around the world. It’s a good time to start looking because a lot of clubs are still struggling with Covid so they are facing budget cuts and we may be able to get on the front foot and get those players to Australia. But I think the front third is always important at the end of the day I would assume most punters would want to see strikers or attacking players light up the league or light up McDonald Jones stadium so for me, that’s a very important part of the process that we have to start working on at the start of the off-season
Q) What are we doing to replace Stevie in the midfield, as well as Luka and Rami, who are on loan?
We are looking for players to bring in, Stevie is going to be missed, he’s a very good player, it’s a position that’s probably going to be the hardest position to fill but there are always opportunities for other players to step up and try and fill the void, he’s not with us next year and we just have to move on, and hopefully produce another Stevie Ugarkovic along the way, because Stevie came to us four years ago, very young and his progression has been world-class, especially this year, but it’s up to us to try and fill that and hopefully fill that and get some decent players who can start winning games. But obviously, Rami and Luka, that’s ongoing talks where they are at in their loan process, sometimes it’s not up to us it’s up to their parent club to work out what they want to do with that individual player.
Q) Do you agree with the proposition that the Jets’ performances are single handily leading the charge for a relegation/promotion system?
Look I’m always for relegation and promotion even where we are sitting, I think it makes it interesting, it makes the club react to situations that they are dealt with, but I can’t see it happening anytime in the short term. Maybe in 10-15 years, football needs to grow in this country, and I think at the moment I feel like it’s slightly on the decline, even though we are all working hard, and with the new season next year, with who is going to hold the rights to it is a huge starting point of where we need to be and where we need to go.
Q) Do you have any chance of an injury replacement for Kanta?
8 games to go there is always a possibility because you can’t look overseas because they have to quarantine for 2 weeks, then it takes 2 weeks to get them up to speed so straight away you miss a month, so it’s quite difficult with the rules they have in place, you could possibly get players that aren’t playing for other A-League clubs but then you say, why aren’t they playing. I always feel that there are players out there and that is something myself, Craig, Lawrie need to identify first, and we have to bring in players that we feel are going to be as good as we have here.
Q) Where are we at with the recruitment for next year?
We will be recruiting, we are working on that very hard, hopefully, we have some players we can look at abroad, we have the time, we have management in place, they’ve given us the green light to start that process so that’s very exciting, hopefully, we can turn it around next year because that is something I am looking forward to building this squad.
Q) What was it like playing in the 08 final and winning?
It was one of the best days of my life, on the football field, of course, to be playing in front of friends and families and then taking the bus all the way back to the Hunter, celebrating with everyone there, that supported me not only for that year but had been members with the old Newcastle United, just fantastic, and the best thing about it is when you win something with a group of mates to be still keeping in touch with those mates 10+ years it’s something special.
Q) What is the plan to take this club forward?
Be very smart with our recruitment, recruitment for me will be the difference between us doing anything next year and us having probably the same year as this year, I think a lot of clubs, especially the top four clubs have recruited very well, obviously it helps to have excess funds available as well, but if when can recruit well and have some form of competitive budget then we will be in good hands. Back when we made the grand final a couple of years ago, the budget was relatively the same as other clubs and then Martin turned off the tap and that’s when we struggled a little bit, it’s very important to get that right and it’s also very important to get a bit of money as well, that goes a long way to try and help where we want to go and what we want to achieve.
Jets captain Nigel Boogaard
Q) What do you think needs to be improved in the following games?
A) Obviously we need to start winning games, to get three points and get ourselves off the bottom of the table. For me it’s about tightening up those key moments in the game and at the back defensively and not conceding goals. Capitalising on chances moving forward and that may sound simple but that will go a long way in getting a good result.
Q) What is your game day routine?
A) It used to be a sleep in but now with two small kids its getting up quite early and then just a bit of time with them in the morning. I have the same lunch, just a couple of toasted sandwiches with a bit of chicken. If it’s a late game than I’ll try have another nap in the afternoon again depends on if the kids let me. On the way to the game, I listen to a few songs that I like to listen to, that get me ready for the game.
Q) Any news on new owners or possible signings to give the fans a bit more hope for the next season?
A) To be honest as a player, we stay out of that and I know as club captain some people may think that I’m privy to stuff like that but for us we need to concentrate on what we’re doing on the park because ultimately, we can’t affect anything other than that and for us it’s about getting ourselves off the bottom of the table. I’m sure over the coming weeks, months we will hear about the club’s direction and players coming in.
Q) Best memory for the Newcastle Jets?
A) It’s probably the best and worst combined. For me to able to lead out my hometown club in a grand final at home in front of all family and friends, it still gives me chills talking about it. Unfortunately, we were not on the right side of the result but that’s something that will never be taken away from me. The best and worst moment all tied up there.
Q) Does anyone in the squad have an unusual pregame ritual or a peculiar psych up song?
A) Most of the boys are pretty normal which is a bit disappointing. The only pre-game ritual which I notice a lot because I’ve played with him for a long time is Jason Hoffman. He has particular order for his socks, boots and shin-pads and I would say he is slightly OCD. Playing around with his game before the game sometimes can be fun as long as it doesn’t put him off too much.
Q) When do the players start taking real responsibility for their poor performances?
A) Very valid point. For us I don’t think we have ever shied away from the fact that the results haven’t been good enough and that’s the bottom line. For us to be sitting where we are on the table, is not good enough for a club of our stature and the players that we have in our squad. The players can definitely put their hand up and I obviously represent them as well. We all know individually and collectively that we are nowhere near where we should’ve been this year with our level of performances. In saying that I don’t think the hunger, the desire or the effort each week to try and get results has diminished. But yeah, the players are well aware of where we are at and are hurting as much as anyone, but we do take full responsibility for that.
Q) Given your demonstrated leadership abilities, knowledge of the A-League, and love from the Jets faithful, is coaching in the future a consideration?
A) Yeah definitely. To be honest I haven’t given it a great deal of thought because I’m still concentrated on playing. But yeah, I enjoy the game, I enjoy imparting wisdom down on those younger players and I feel that I could do a decent job being a coach but at what level I’m not too sure. Don’t be surprised if you see me coaching somewhere around Newcastle post-playing days.
Q) Is there a genuine feeling in the club that the A-League powers don’t want regional clubs to succeed? e.g. The grand final race and game schedules.
A) Listen, people can get in that mindset of being from a regional area or a regional town and that the bigger clubs and the bigger cities seem to dominate whether it’s schedules, fixtures whether they get more Friday nights, and we don’t. If you take that mentality, that poor me mentality I think it can affect you and if you read into it too far you can believe it happens. For me, it is what it is and I think that’s an even better reason when you are successful to savour that because you may not have had an easier run as others.
Q) With crowds hovering below 5,000, would you prefer to play games at No. 2 from now on to bring the fans close?
A) For me, no. I think that McDonald Jones Stadium is still the right place for us to play. I think we can definitely build on those crowds with better performances, I think we can lift that. Off the back of a COVID season last year, our membership has suffered quite a bit and people’s focus maybe a bit more internal on their families opposed to spending money on coming to sports events. Hopefully as we see the back end of COVID, we see those numbers increase, and I think that we would outgrow No. 2 pretty quick.
Q) When are you going to start producing positive results?
A) Well hopefully this weekend against Sydney. A great opportunity for us against a side like Sydney, coming here to Newcastle and a few boys have already spoken about how good it would be to turn things around this weekend. I think we have a great opportunity for the run home, six games to go. Some teams that are sitting near the top and it’s an opportunity for us to prove that we’re better side than where we are sitting on the table. So, a great challenge for us these next six games.
Q) How are you feeling in your career? Are you closing in on retirement?
A) It’s a common question which I seem to get at the moment. Listen, I’m obviously at the back end of my career, and while I feel like I’m physically and mentally able to contribute day to day on the field and in the games and if the coaching staff believe that and the club have a plan for me moving forward than that’s great but as long as I’m able to I’ll keep playing and maybe a time will come where I get a tap on the shoulder to say that it’s moving past you. But until that day, I will give everything I’ve got to play.
Q) In a tough season such as the current one, what are some of the positives you can take from the season and build upon next year?
A) For me it’s some of the opportunities which the younger players have had. I think it’s well documented that there are some boys in our team that haven’t had opportunities at other clubs or haven’t really had the game time previously due to other players playing in their position. So, for them to get minutes on the park and experience, I think that is invaluable moving forward and if the majority of those players who have taken their opportunity this year are around the club next year they will only benefit from their time this year.
Q) Summarise the 2018 season.
A) Well, so close. For me it was an amazing season. We just had this belief and I don’t know what you could call it but just around the club, around the team regardless of what position we were in, during a match we knew we could get a result. We probably had a bit of luck that year but I believe that positive mindset, I wouldn’t say you earn luck but luck seems to fall your way when you have that mindset and towards the back end of the year when we were sitting where we were on the table you could just feel the lift around the town and we pretty much rode that wave all the way to the grand final. Like I said unfortunate not to be able to get over the line but at the end of the day we still weren’t good enough to score a goal against them. So you can say what you want about VAR but at the end of the day we didn’t do enough to win that game with the time that was left to do so.
Q) Can you slide tackle Matt Simon in the next F3 Derby?
A) I’d love to. Me and Matty have been good mates, when I played at the Mariners I roomed with him for quite a number of years but the niceties stay there when we enter that field. He is a winner as much as I am, and he’ll do anything within the rules to make sure he wins that game. He is probably one of the players that I enjoy tackling the most because I can really fire him up.
Q) If you were to sign one player in the A-League, who would it be and why?
A) Currently, for me someone like a Diego Castro. He is a delight to watch to be honest. I don’t like to pump up opposition players too much but to have someone like that in your side and to see what he does and how he torments opposition defences it’s a joy to watch and I think if you were playing behind him, you’d probably be playing with a smile on your face most weeks. So, one player for me who has done amazing things for the league since he’s been here and hopefully in the future we see more like him.