Jets success surprises Merrick

02 May 2018 06:24:48 EST

Coach Ernie Merrick admits even he's surprised by the success Newcastle Jets have had this season.

When Merrick, who led Melbourne Victory to two championships and two premierships, took over in pre-season he inherited a team that had just picked up the wooden spoon.

There has never been a club in Australia that has gone from last to first in the space of a year, but that's the goal for the Jets when they host Victory in Saturday's Grand Final.

Newcastle finished second in the regular season, 14 points behind Sydney FC, before defeating Melbourne City in the semi-final to earn the right to host Merrick's former team.

The coach said although he'd expected significant improvement from his team, the season has been much better than he would have predicted.

"I thought we would make major inroads, moving upward on the ladder, but to be at a Grand Final is a bit of a surprise," said Merrick, who has a 53 per cent win record since taking charge.

"The boys have just been so impressive. Now that we're here we have got to make the most of it, not only this week, but we need to play our best football this weekend."

The Jets have keeper Jack Duncan (quad) and utility Ben Kantarovski (hamstring) unavailable for the decider.

Glen Moss will come in for Duncan, while Riley McGree will continue in midfield instead of Kantarovski.

Meanwhile, New Zealand international midfielder Michael McGlinchey is leaving Wellington Phoenix after four seasons and 85 appearances for the club.

McGlinchey was one of 14 off-contract players on the Phoenix's books.

He had joined before the start of the 2014/15 season, after winning an A-League Championship title with Central Coast Mariners.

Newcastle Jets are 8/5 to beat Melbourne Victory, who are 17/10 with the draw 5/2.

The Jets are 4/5 to win the Grand Final outright.

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