|By MARK HUGHES
Brisbane Roar coach Michael Mulvey has warned fans the club will be going through some "short-term pain", but he is certain they are still finals contenders despite losing 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets on Saturday.
It was Mulvey's fifth match in charge of the Roar after he took over from Rado Vidosic in late December.
And while there are signs the reigning champions are turning their form around, Saturday's loss to the lowly placed Jets indicates there is still some way to go before they can get back in the A-League title hunt.
"The club is going through a period of change, there is no doubt about it," Mulvey said after the loss to the Jets.
"There was a malaise following the grand final wins and there is going to be some short-term pain before long-term gain.
"To be talking about third in a row is a ridiculous thing to be talking about because we are at the other end of the table.
"What we need to be contemplating is getting our best XI on the park, making sure everyone is ready to play 100 percent – not 98 percent or 97 percent – which is what happens, we turn off at times, which was indicative of the goal we conceded."
The Roar were out played by the Jets for the first hour and conceded a soft goal to Ryan Griffiths just two minutes after half-time.
But the Brisbane side fought back in the final 20 minutes and created several opportunities but could not convert in front of goal as they slid to their ninth loss of the season.
"We had our moments and we probably could have equalised late in the second half," Mulvey said.
"It was a dour struggle certainly in the first half and we were not our best - our passing wasn't slick enough and we gave up too much uncontested ball.
"The second half we talked about keeping it tight for the next five minutes and they banged a goal in the first two minutes.
"We can't afford to keep doing it. We lapsed in concentration last week and you can't keep doing that, not at this level, so we still have plenty to work on."
The loss sees the Roar sitting in eighth spot just one win above last-placed Sydney FC, who take on the Melbourne Heart on Sunday afternoon.
However, given the congested nature of the table, the Roar are still within one win of the top six and Mulvey said he is "100 percent certain" of the Roar making the finals this season.
"Absolutely, 100 percent, no doubts in my mind that we will make the finals," he said.
"I have said it before – it is not a matter of will we make the finals, it is about whether we are good enough to improve week by week and people will know that we are around.
"At the moment we don't deserve to be finals contenders.
"We won two, we lost two. If we go on like that for the rest of the season - we might just squeak into the finals, but we don't want to just limp in there, we want to actually go in there with a bang.
"So like I said there is going to be some short-term pain, to get our long-term gain.
"We need to make sure everybody's heads are in the right place - that is the first thing.
"We need everybody switched on for 90 minutes. We can't play for 87 minutes, we switched off a couple of times last week and we switched off once tonight.
"We have quality here we just need to make sure that everybody is on the same page and we have a very complete performance from XI committed players."