Newcastle Jets striker Ryan Griffiths says talk of rebuilding and a transition phase should not diminish their hopes for the new A-League season.
While the Jets have had the most change of any A-League club when it comes to playing personnel for this season, Griffiths is not one for excuses when it comes to getting results.
Gary van Egmond’s side missed the finals last season and a repeat will not be tolerated.
“Last year we under-achieved so we have to make the finals this time,” Griffiths told Sportal ahead of the club’s season opener against Adelaide on Sunday.
“We could say we were starting our transition last year but we don’t have any excuses any more.
“It’s been a long pre-season so everyone should have their team together the way they want it to be.
“I’m happy with where we’re at as a team.
“We’re flying, we’re fit and it’s a matter of being able to bring that into the A-League.
“Hopefully that pressure doesn’t get to the players but I don’t think it will because they all seem to be winners and they’re all competitive.”
Much of the 30-year-old’s confidence comes from the addition of their international stars including Emile Heskey, Bernardo Ribeiro and Dominik Ritter as well as the wealth of young Australian talent in the squad.
“And we’ve still got Jobe Wheelhouse, (Ruben) Zadkovich, myself and Tiago there so the core is the same,” Griffiths said.
“That’s so important when you’ve got a lot of new signings.
“We’re able to keep that continuity going which should help us right from the start.”
Asked about the new imports, Griffiths said: “Ribiero just needs to get used to our system and the way that we play.
“I think being a Brazilian and a star player he’s probably not used to the work ethic in Australian football and that everyone needs to chip in.
“He’s getting there and I think he’ll be great.
“Ritter has impressed me a lot. He’s a really strong player and has a great cross on him and I’m sure you’ll see him putting a few assists in this year.”
Meanwhile Heskey is adamant his game won’t change despite coming from the higher standard of the English Premier League to Australia.
The former England international has made his name more as a provider than goal-scorer over his 17-year career and foresees a similar pattern in the A-League with the Jets.
“That’s the way I’ve grown up playing so I don’t fancy changing anything,” Heskey said.
“I’ve managed to win cups and managed to go to two World Cups, two European championships doing that same thing, so why change now?
“Everyone wants to be a goal scorer but not everyone can be. Everyone thinks they’re a goal scorer as well.
“I’ll carry on doing that, being a provider.”