The Central Coast Mariners are the current whipping boys of the A-League.
Did you see Matt Simon’s post-game interview last Monday?
Not only did it sum up the Mariners’ gloomy season, it also encapsulated half a decade worth of fan frustration.
After the Gosford club’s draw with the Wanderers, one cryptic sentence said it all from the legendary player.
“Five or six years of bad decisions is going to take a little while to fix,” he lamented, looking like a broken man.
Talk about a smoking gun. Such a tormented confession was worthy of deeper analysis. Yet the interviewer failed to ask Simon to elaborate.
Had Angela Lansbury been on the case, I’m sure she would have asked: “Mr Simon, what exactly happened all those years ago?”
Fans had the right to know whether this was an issue with management, coaches or other players.
As if by symbolic fate, as Simon pressed on, a giant MasterFoods sauce bottle limply deflated behind the tired player. Here was a visual metaphor worthy of a Hollywood script.
“It’s been quite tough for this club,” Simon continued.
“There’s no easy fix to that.”
“There’s a salary cap. You can’t just flick a switch. Unless, someone’s got unlimited money.”
Maybe it was unintentional, but in his last home game of the season, Simon was taking a thinly veiled swipe at the powers that be. It sounded like an ownership issue.
However, before you handcuff the Mariners’ boss Mike Charlesworth, consider his presumption of innocence.
In February this year, as strange as it sounds, Charlesworth openly called for the end to the A-League salary cap.
“I’d scrap the cap and create a complete environment which would enable clubs to trade, buy and sell players,” he said.
For the A-League naysayers, this quote bleeds irony. How can a financially conservative owner support such a risky proposition?
Clearly Charlesworth doesn’t want to over-spend on his team, but he’s okay with other clubs taking that chance.
Central Coast will always be part of football.
However, if you piece enough clues together, it points to them barley surviving in the second division.