Stajcic insists the focus is on improvement

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The Central Coast Mariners sit atop of the A-League ladder after round eight. A place where few would have envisioned before the season began, but Alen Stajcic is not letting his side get ahead of themselves just yet.

On Sunday, the Mariners exacted their revenge on the Wellington Phoenix for their defeat a few weeks earlier.

The side has gone from strength to strength this season with four clean sheets in eight matches so far, which is double last season’s total. They have also already equaled last season’s points in 18 fewer games.

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However, Stajcic is not getting carried away by his side’s position on the ladder, given the variety in opponents each side has faced, as well as the number of games played.

“You know, we are on top now but lots of teams have played different matches,” he said.

“So the table’s not exactly a real indication of where everyone is at, at the moment.”

The improvement from last year’s wooden spoon recipients is undeniable. Stajcic said the drastic upturn in results, especially their defence, was down to attitude.

“It’s all about attitude,” he said.

“It’s not that back four, it’s not Birraz (Mark Birighitti). We defend with all 18 who come onto the pitch and it’s all about the attitude that they bring to the game.”

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The ex-Matildas boss reinforced the Mariners were still a fair way off where he thought they needed to be in order to stay in contention for the minor premiership.

“A lot of things we did well, but there are still a few things that we certainly need to improve on,” Stajcic said.

“Today we added that extra layer of professionalism and discipline. Which I thought was very good and showed a lot of composure.”

The hardest part for the Gosford-based side will be to continue on an upward trajectory.

Phoenix were reduced to ten men, half an hour into proceedings. In previous seasons, the Mariners may have struggled to break down sides with a man less, however, on Sunday they were in complete control on the score sheet and in the statistics, with 58 per cent possession and 16 shots.

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Post-match Stajcic’s stance was consistent, his focus was on improving week by week and the real challenge for his side was on continuing to improve.

“The challenge is what it is always is,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re winning or losing, it’s just to keep getting better, working hard, improving and making sure we improve our deficiencies and keep improving our strengths.”

Feature image credit: Glenn Pokorny

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Chris Ball
Football fanatic, supporting some, at times, hard to follow sides.