ROBERT DILLON: Mitchell welcomes Del Piero test
PATIENT: Jets defender Josh Mitchell in action against the Heart in November. Picture: Getty ImagesJOSH Mitchell was engrossed in a book entitled The 4-Hour Workweek on Monday’s flight home from Brisbane, which seemed an incongruous choice of reading material.
The best-seller from US author and entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss is based on a less-is-more premise that proclaims how, in many walks of life, maximum productivity can be achieved in a small amount of time.
For many of us, it is an attractive theory.
But after spending most of this season on the periphery, waiting for opportunities, the last thing Mitchell needs is fewer hours to ply his trade.
Fortunately for the experienced Newcastle defender, his patience is set to deliver dividends.
A late inclusion before last week’s clash with the Roar in Brisbane, Mitchell clocked on for a shift that suggested he was eager to secure a full-time appointment.
Not only did the Jets end their seven-game winless streak, they kept the competition leaders, and strike weapon Besart Berisha, scoreless.
‘‘Joshy Mitchell came in … the day before the game, and hadn’t really had the preparation that he would have liked,’’ Jets assistant coach Craig Deans said.
‘‘But I think his performance was outstanding.
‘‘We kept a clean sheet for the first time in a few weeks, which was a real positive.’’
Given that senior defender Kew Jaliens incurred a fifth yellow card and hence a one-game suspension, Mitchell is at short odds to be retained for Saturday night’s showdown with Sydney FC.
It will be only his fifth game this season and the first time he has made back-to-back appearances.
‘‘I’ve played a few weeks in a row, youth team, first team et cetera, but it will be nice to play two [A-League games] in a row,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘It was pleasing to get the points and nice not to concede, but next week is a new game and a new enemy, and [Alessandro] Del Piero and co will be just as difficult as Berisha.
‘‘I played him [Del Piero] last season a few times and he’s difficult.
‘‘He’s very intelligent and all that, but it’s one of those things where you look at the video, you see how he moves and some of his teammates, and you try to adapt and take the same energy into this game.’’
At 29, Mitchell admits his limited game time this season has been an unusual experience in a professional career that kicked off with Newcastle United in the old National Soccer League 12 years ago.
The Swansea junior made 21 appearances for his home-town team before joining Romanian club Universitatea Craiova, for whom he played 107 games in four seasons.
He returned to Australia to join Perth, making his A-League debut in August 2010 – against the Jets, as fate would have it – and playing 35 games for the Glory over two seasons.
Released by Perth, he was signed by the Jets last season after a brief trial period and played in 15 games.
But off-season knee surgery, and the arrival of former Netherlands international Jaliens, have left him cast in the role of stop-gap replacement.
‘‘I’ve been around a while, and you go from starting in most teams you’ve played in to not playing,’’ he said.
‘‘It is frustrating, but you learn to adapt. The last two seasons have been a big learning curve for me.
‘‘I think I’ve adapted pretty well. I think I’ve learned in myself to become more relaxed about it, to just put my head down and work harder and not take it to heart or get frustrated.
‘‘You have to put the team first, and hopefully I can be rewarded with some time in the team now.’’
Off contract at season’s end, Mitchell would prefer to stay in Newcastle, which he described as ‘‘a beautiful city’’, but is not losing any sleep about his prospects of ongoing employment.
‘‘I’ve been around long enough not to let it worry me,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ll just try and do well for the team, and whether I stay here or not, I’m sure I’ll be fine.’’
As for The 4-Hour Workweek, Mitchell said it included some ‘‘interesting concepts’’.
‘‘I’m turning 30 this year, so you have to start thinking about life after football.
‘‘It’s good to keep your mind busy by reading books and I’ve got a few hobbies on the side that keep me busy, and learning new things is one of them.’’
For the time being, however, there is unfinished business to which he must attend.
‘‘Hopefully for the club and the fans we can make the finals, because we really need it,’’ he said. ‘‘I know the boys and the coaching staff are all pulling together.
‘‘We’ll be doing our very best to get there, because it’s been a long time between drinks.’’