Credit overdue for Jason Hoffman, Newcastle's ever-willing unsung hero
South American flair and Aussie play-making royalty headlines Newcastle's front-line, and Jason Hoffman sticks out like a sore thumb.
The unsung 29-year-old may not earn as many plaudits or strike fear into the hearts of his opponents like Dimitri Petratos or Ronny Vargas.
But to label the Newcastle-born workhorse as an unfashionable focal point would be criminally unfair.
The Jets’ ever-green, ever-willing utility has been just as important in returning the Hunter Valley outfit to the right end of the Hyundai A-League table in recent times as his arguably more stylish teammates.
His value was illustrated yet again in Friday night’s rebel Female Football Round 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers, in which Hoffman’s early strike sent Ernie Merrick’s side on route to their first win of the campaign.
It was not a performance or occasion that will go down in history, but it might prove to be an essential confidence boost for Merrick’s men, as they look to recapture the attacking swagger of last season.
Hoffman has played just about every position under the sun during his decade-long tenure in the Hyundai A-League.
Last season, the former Mayfield United junior’s endeavour and diligence on the right side of attack was a perfect counter-weight for Merrick’s flock of swashbuckling forwards.
In the absence of Roy O’Donovan and Joe Champness, Hoffman has been promoted once again, back in the central role that he featured prominently for the Young Socceroos before the turn of the decade.
And after grabbing the all-important opener for his side in Friday night’s win at Spotless Stadium, it is about time Newcastle’s 2007/08 Championship winner receives the overdue credit he is merited.
Following the Jets 2-0 triumph over the Wanderers, Hoffman spoke with brutal honesty about the Novocastrians’ struggles in the final third.
“I think it’s going to take a little bit of time,” he told Fox Sports after the match.
“We haven’t changed our mentality and how we’re going to play. Ernie’s very aggressive in his attacking formation and he gives us a lot of freedom.
“But in saying that, with freedom comes interpretation as well and with some new faces up front, myself included. It’s a slightly different role and we need to stick to the basics.”
For a player who has consistently defied critics with his ability to re-invent himself as a player, the Jets would do well to look to the inspiration of their trusty right footer as they attempt to rediscover their cavalier attacking mojo.
WATCH FOR FREE: How to watch the Hyundai A-League LIVE and FREE