Newcastle skipper Nigel Boogaard says it is “not good enough” that the Jets haven’t made the finals since 2010 and has declared making the top six as a bare minimum for the club this season.
The Jets last made the A-League finals seven years ago and since then the Hunter outfit has finished seventh three times, eighth twice and last twice.
In the 2016/17 campaign under Mark Jones, Newcastle collected its second wooden and won just five games.
Veteran coach Ernie Merrick has been installed and several promising signings have been made.
Local product Boogaard, who returned home to the Jets in 2015 from Adelaide United, told FourFourTwo the club has big goals for the new campaign.
“Every year when you’re playing in a 10-team competition an achieveable goal is the top six, and that’s the bare minimum,” he said.
“If you’re not aiming for that then there’s no point being a professional in a competition like this. For us, top six is bare minimum. We say it every year but this year it has to happen.
“It’s not good enough for the club to have gone for as long as it has without making the top six. And once you get there, anything can happen. In saying that you’re always aiming for the top, no matter what you do.
“As professional sportsman you want to finish on top and I’m sure that’s everyone’s internal goal is to win the league and that’s what we’re aiming for and that’s the mindset in training.
“Every detail we do is geared towards having a successful season and hopefully at the end of the season we’re there or thereabouts and challenging for a title.”
Newcastle have been undefeated against northern NSW opposition in pre-season, but lost 2-0 to the Mariners in a friendly in July and went down 1-0 to the Reds in the Round of 32 in the FFA Cup.
New captures at the Jets include Roy O’Donovan, Glen Moss, Kosta and Dimitri Petratos, Daniel Georgievski, Mario Shabow and Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
In total 12 plays have left the club, with the likes of visa players Aleksandr Kokko, Morten Nordstrand and Mateo Poljak all departing.
Centre back Boogaard is hoping to strike an effective partnership in defence with former Wanderers stopper Topor-Stanley.
“A big one for me is Nikolai at the back, last year we conceded a lot of goals,” the 30-year old said.
“It wasn’t good enough but with his experience, not only on the ball but organizing. He’s a big talker and really communicates with everyone in front of him, which is going to be a big thing for us this year.
“A lot of the teams that were successful last season, their first XIs pretty much stayed the same throughout the year.
"They formed partnerships, whether it’s the back four or a front three, as having an understanding of each other and letting that build over time and games.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with Nikolai, getting an understanding, and having a good year.”