Former Newcastle Jets captain Hayley Crawford is full of admiration for Head Coach Craig Deans as he puts faith in local talent to guide his side through the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.
Deans has opted for Novocastrians over internationals this season, many of whom Crawford watched blossom from youth prospects under her captaincy to the Jets stalwarts they are today.
It’s going to be a transitional year full of surprises in Newcastle, and Crawford has helped us put together the ultimate pre-season guide in anticipation of what’s to come for the Jets.
Last season: 7th
Crawford’s predicted position in 2019/20: 4th
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Filling the void left by Emily van Egmond
There’s no escaping it: replacing Emily van Egmond – arguably Newcastle’s greatest ever football product – is a near impossible task for Deans.
Almost in acceptance of this fact the Jets boss has decided to place his faith in a band of young, energetic and hungry local players rather than seek out a high-profile star to fill her boots.
Look out for Newcastle spreading the burden this season as Deans looks to his squad as a whole to minimise the impact of losing their star individual.
Local talent prevails
After a disappointing 2018/19 campaign, Deans will be hoping to take his side back to the Westfield W-League finals after their one-season absence.
And he’ll be banking predominantly on girls born and bred in Newcastle to make it happen.
It’s an ambitious ploy from Deans who continues to show he is not afraid to make bold moves in the pursuit of Westfield W-League success.
First five fixtures
Melbourne City (H)
Western Sydney Wanderers (a)
Canberra United (H)
Perth Glory (a)
Sydney FC (H)
Crawford’s key match-ups
“You can’t go past Round 1 [Melbourne City], coming up against Emily [van Egmond] in that first round,” Crawford said.
“Sometimes it takes teams like Melbourne City ,who have really high-profile players, a little while to gel together as a team, so I’m hoping we can catch them unaware and not ready.
“Emily might be a bit nervous, you never know.
“If we can get off to a good start and win one we’re not expected to win it might be the catalyst for a good season.”
“I think it’s always traditionally been [a big clash].
“They’ve always been the team to beat.
“In saying that we’ve had some upsets [over them] over the years.
“It’s always a big game.”
Crawford’s players to watch
“Tara Andrews for me has always been someone that makes things look really effortless.
“I think if she has a big season she can make Newcastle finals material and hopefully get a Matildas call-up, because I know she has the potential to be there.
“I think she’s a key player and always has been over the years.”
“You can’t go past new blood.
“Hopefully Newcastle can be that environment where she really flourishes. I’ll be keeping my eye on Nicki to see what she can do, see if she can inject that spark we may need up top.
“I think she’s key to us having a good season as well.”
Cassidy Davis, Hannah Brewer
“Those two bleed the Jets, they bleed Newcastle.
“Those two at the back for me are ones that you know what you get. You’re always going to get a consistent, solid performance.
“For us to have any chance of making the finals we’re going to rely on those two to have the solid, consistent games they have week in, week out.”
Claire Coelho Story
Hannah Brewer Story
Cassidy Davis Story
Gema Simon Story
Tessa Tamplin Story
Larissa Crummer Story
Libby Copus-Brown Story
Paige Kingston-Hogg Story
Sophie Nenadovic Story
Clare Wheeler Story
Tara Andrews Story
Teigan Collister Story
Jenna Kingsley Story
Pana Petratos Story
Renee Pountney Story
Nicki Flannery Story
Annabel Martin Story
Lauren Allan Story
Nicole Simonsen Story
Crawford’s squad verdict
“It will be really interesting for the squad this year.
“They haven’t got the internationals, but it will be nice to see what the hometown girls can actually do.
“You’ve got pros and cons to that obviously, the pros are that you’re investing in local talent, you know they’re going to be there for the long run.
“I guess the con of that is when you do throw in some internationals, it ups the quality of training.
“Sometimes in this environment you may need that one or two [internationals] players to win you games.
“We’ll see how that pans out this season, I wish them nothing but the best but one or two might have been nice to compliment the local talent.
“I don’t ever think you can write the Newcastle local girls off, that’s for sure.
“We’ve always shown the underdog tag suits us nicely over the years.”
Losing Emily van Egmond
“To be fair it’s going to be hard, I don’t think you can sugar coat it.
“I think you need to be really honest that she’s arguably Newcastle’s greatest ever player.
“To fill a hole like that is going to be tough but I think the girls will know that.
“Everyone is going to have to go to that next level a bit and push themselves, probably where they haven’t gone before.
“Big, big shoes to fill but no doubt Craig will instil confidence in the girls to be able to do so.”
Newcastle Jets 2019/20 squad
Claire Coelho, Nicole Simonsen, Hannah Brewer, Cassidy Davis, Gema Simon,Tessa Tamplin, Larissa Crummer, Libby Copus-Brown, Paige Kingston-Hogg, Sophie Nenadovic, Clare Wheeler, Tara Andrews, Teigan Collister, Jenna Kingsley, Pana Petratos, Renee Pountney, Nicki Flannery, Annabel Martin, Lauren Allan.
“I’ve got all the respect in the world for Craig Deans and what he’s done in Newcastle.
“He’s always been so respectful to the women’s game which I think goes a long way.
“He’s shown he’s stayed around so it hasn’t been a lily pad to get him somewhere else or back into the men’s game.
“As a person and as a guy, he’s always been so approachable and humble.
“You can see the girls really want to play for him and that speaks volumes of the type of coach that he is.
“You can always see the girls are in good spirits, you can always see he lifts them up - that goes a long way, I think.
“You’ve got to have a solid culture when you do have just local talent.
“Sometimes as the underdogs you’ve got to have that fighting spirit and you can see they’ve got that, so he must be doing something right.”
“I’m going to predict we’ll sneak into 4th.
“I think realistically if they can make the top four that will be great.
“Other teams on paper unfortunately have better internationals and more experienced Matildas players, so stronger teams on paper, but for me hopefully the girls can do a great job and sneak into that last position in fourth place.
“I think it could be anyone’s up for grabs in that fourth spot, it will just come down to who wants it more.
“I think hopefully where Newcastle will shine in terms of local girls playing for each other, knowing that next year they’re probably going to have the same faces in the squad.
“You can’t underestimate that bond the girls have and know they’ll be around next year as well, so hopefully that will take us into the finals and all the way.”
Newcastle will sport a new look in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.
Their home kit is adorned by thin vertical red and blue stripes with blue sleeves, while their away kit is predominately white with a blue and red sash running diagonally across the front.
The Jets will also wear a black third kit with gold trim around the collar and sleeves this season.