Ernie Merrick defiant over Newcastle Jets' A-League finals hopes: 'We'll definitely make the top six'
Newcastle have brushed off suggestions the A-League top six is settled and their finals hopes are dead and buried.
The Jets' luckless campaign took a big blow on Saturday when they were beaten 1-0 by Sydney FC after being reduced to 10 men at Jubilee Stadium.
After Adelaide beat Western Sydney on Friday night, it leaves Newcastle 10 points off the top six and questions lingering about whether last year's grand finalists can close the gap with 13 games to go.
It leaves them most likely needing to win eight or nine of their remaining matches however coach Ernie Merrick expressed unflinching faith in his side.
"I think that can be done," Merrick said. "If you get on a run of three games, three wins, it changes things enormously.
"I still feel that we'll definitely make the top six and play in the finals.
"This puts more pressure on the players to perform. I try to take the pressure off them but some of the youngsters can't cope with it.
"Some of the more senior players love it. I don't think it's a good thing to always feel like you have to get three points but we're capable of doing it. We've still got a good squad."
The Jets were hard done by when they were reduced to 10 men after Jason Hoffman was red-carded with 10 minutes remaining for lashing out with his feet at Brandon O'Neill.
Merrick said he did not know if the club would appeal his suspension.
The Jets' goal-scoring woes continued -- despite having nine shots on goal (compared to Sydney FC's 15).
"It just puts us in a position where the sixth placed [team] is going to be further away from us," Merrick said.
"That comes down to several games that we should have won.
"Tonight Sydney were the better team and played the better football. It was only one goal so it shows we defend pretty well still."