The Central Coast Mariners go into the 13th season of the A-League with plenty of optimism and hope. The club have had an awful last 2-3 years and will be hoping they are in for a successful season. The Mariners like a lot of clubs, have had a big turnover of players but it is the players that have come to the club that will have fans excited.
The club finished 8th last season and is a good stepping stone going into this new season. The Gosford club’s coach Paul Okon has adjusted to his role as head coach and will go into this season in much better shape than he did this time last year. Okon took over from the departing Tony Walmsley and had limited time preparing the club for the season and was stuck with players that were quite frankly, not interested in helping.
Mickael Tavares and Jacques Faty were brought in to give the side some experience but injuries kept both brothers out for the majority of the season. Season 12 was not all doom and gloom for the club as they were able to string some more wins together but it still wasn’t enough to get themselves into a finals place. Their main goalscorer Roy O’Donovan was a decent man up front for the club but his signing away from the club to arch rivals Newcastle was a hole that the club needed to fill.
Onto this season now, with the team strengthening in many departments but none more so than the Dutch defensive midfield paring of Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama. These two add experience in the Eredivisie and experience to a side that has badly needed these qualities for several years. They have also acquired a handy centre back partnership with Antony Golec and Alan Baro coming into the side to also give experience and steel to the backline.
Baro was an instrumental figure in Melbourne Victory’s grand final appearance and good fortune in the league and he will be hoping his new club can further climb the table this season. He was also given the honour of being club captain in his first season and that sign of confidence will drive the Spaniard on. Also coming into the club is striker Asdrubal. He’s been added to the squad to make up for the loss of O’Donovan and the small Spaniard although he is a relative unknown, will be keen to prove himself in this league and will want to try and score as many goals as possible for his new side.
The Mariners also have acquired highly rated Australian midfielder Daniel De Silva who comes home after stints overseas. The Gosford club have been crying out for an attacking midfielder in the no.10 shirt and De Silva is someone that fits Okon’s style of football and also with his young age of 20. Andrew Hoole and Ben Kennedy make the trip down the F3 from Newcastle to the Mariners with Hoole linking up with former Young Socceroos coach Okon and Kennedy joining the club after many years up the road in Newcastle.
A goalkeeper signing that fans were very keen to learn was that of Spurs youngster Tom Glover. As a young Australian player, he is at a big English club and studying under world class French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris would have been a steep learning curve and he makes his way over here trying to cement a no.1 position for the Mariners. A young defensive addition was also made with Brisbane Roar youth player Kye Rowles coming in for cover at the left back positon that Josh Rose will be the no.1 choice for.
An area of the pitch where the Mariners certainly don’t struggle for places is in wide areas. Hoole will be a starter for the side with his move down the F3 and O’Donovan’s move up sure to galvanise the derby. Hoole adds an extra dimension to the side and with Okon preferring to use inverted wingers, he and Connor Pain will be cutting in and shooting more often.
Trent Buhagiar and Kwabena Appiah provide decent back up on the wings with both possessing good pace but many come under criticism with a lack of finishing ability although both players have it in them to score good goals. The attacking style of play Okon will deploy will rely heavily on the wingers pace and delivery into the box and that will be a big facet of the Mariners attack this season.
This is a season of discovery for the Central Coast Mariners as they embark on their 13th season in the league. Paul Okon has had a year with the side and has built a good side on paper that blends youth, experience and footballing ability. As a fan of the club, l can see a good season in-store for them and a finals position could be on the offering. With a strong and stable backline and midfield, the pressure will be on striker Asdrubal to come up with the goals. Wingers will need to fire, the midfield looks very capable to get on top of teams and dictate play and the defence in the middle looks much stronger and stable with Baro and Golec.
The Mariners should not be conceding anywhere near the amount of goals that have in the previous two seasons.
I am going to tip that the Mariners finish between 5th and 7th. 5th and 6th would be a great achievement for the club with a finals berth just what they needed. 7th would be an improvement on last season but it is all about making the top 6 where the success or failure of the club’s season will be evaluated.
I hope everyone enjoys the season, and may the best team win.
P.S Football is back, get keen.
Mariners’ Ins and Outs:
IN: Tom Hiariej, Alan Baro, Antony Golec, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Kye Rowles, Josh Rose, Tom Glover, Asdrúbal, Wout Brama, Daniel De Silva.
OUT: Paul Izzo, Roy O’Donovan, Fabio Ferreira, Ivan Necevski, Nick Montgomery, Jacob Poscoliero, Jacques Faty, Scott Galloway, Mickael Tavares, Michael Neill, Jake Adelson
Western Sydney Wanderers
Central Coast Mariners