A-League 2012-13 Preview – Central Coast Mariners
To keep you up with the water cooler banter, I am back with some informative season previews and super special fun facts. Today is the Central Coast Mariners
2011/2012 Result: 1st
Manager: Graham Arnold
Ins: Joey Gibbs (Marconi), Nick Montgomery (Sheffield United), Zachary Anderson (Gold Coast United), Mile Sterjovski (Dalian Aerbin), Brent Griffiths (Wellington Phoenix)
Outs: Trent McClenahan (Sydney FC), Bradley Porter (Retired), Stuart Musialik (Free), Sam Gallagher (Melbourne Victory), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk), Mustafa Amini (Borussia Dortmund)
It’s hard to think that on March 25th this year, only some six months ago, that the Central Coast Mariners had just wrapped up first place on the A-League ladder.
Clearly, six months is a long time in football. Gone are two crown jewels in the Mariners line-up – captain fantastic Alex Wilkinson and the prodigious talent of Musti Amini. Two jewels still remain.
In Tom Rogic and Maty Ryan, the Mariners have two young guns that, in all probability, will be playing together for a long, long time in the green and gold of the Socceroos.
Two experienced campaigners, in Mile Sterjovski and Nick Montgomery, have been brought in to ease the pressure on their young shoulders – time will tell if this will be enough to lift the Mariners to the heights of last season.
Key Player: John Hutchinson
A Mariners stalwart since 2005, the Australian-born Maltese international has been given the club captaincy for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.
This role is of huge importance for a club that focuses on a team-first, individual second, attitude.
Having just shy of 150 appearances in the A-League, Hutchinson should know what kind of battle to expect in the middle of the park – and his 13 game stint at Chengdu Blades last year would have done him the world of good.
But, as always, the A-League looks like to have kicked up another gear in terms of quality in the off season. Hutchinson – who has had his knockers over the years – will need to prove early on in the competition that his best A-League years have not passed him by.
The Road Ahead
While other teams bed down with a raft of new players and managers, expect the Central Coast to get off to a flyer. The team philosophy and Graham Arnold’s tactics are well established and this will serve them well in the first few months.
However by Christmas, with a difficult away run against Wellington and then Sydney, followed by a home game against the team that beat them in last year’s Preliminary Final – Perth – the Mariners have a potentially hazardous December. Negotiate that well, and a place higher up the table beckons.
Prediction: 6th. In terms of quality, the rest of the competition have caught up to the Mariners. Once again, their final position will very much depend on whether the team can become more than a sum of its parts.
Graham Arnold and Lara Bingle have a lot in common! Both hail from the hotbed that is the Sutherland Shire (perhaps just infamously as The Shire). Arnold got his start in football in the purple and white of Gwawley Bay way back in 1969.