A-League mid-season report card: Central Coast Mariners

-

Having just passed the halfway mark for the 2020/21 A-League season, The Football Sack takes a look at the performance of the Central Coast Mariners.

Semester Summary

Exceeding expectations at every turn. No one would have predicted the Mariners would spend most of the first half of the season clear at the top of the ladder but that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Alen Stajcic has done the unthinkable and turned the Mariners from constant wooden spooners to genuine title contenders.

The Mariners started their campaign with a scrappy win in the F3 derby and would pick up wins until people suddenly woke up to the fact that they were top of the ladder.

The club has shown that the players have a strong mentality with impressive come-from-behind wins against Western United and Melbourne City.

Their form has slowed a bit as the season reached the mid-way point, with three draws a win and a loss in their last five encounters. The Mariners however are still defying all expectations and are on the hunt for the AFC Champions League spot they’re aiming for.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas of excellence

Defensively the Mariners have been one of the best teams in the competition, starting the same defensive line up throughout the year.

Kye Rowles and Ruon Tongyik have formed a formidable partnership in the heart of defence and Mark Birighitti in goals has had several man-of-the-match performances.

Defensive midfielder Oliver Bozanic has also been crucial to the Mariners success, not only in defence but in dropping deep into the defensive line up to setup attacking plays.

Compared to previous years, this improvement in the defence has been a massive success and it is a key reason as to why the Mariners are enjoying such a productive season.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas in need of improvement

Finishing. Stajcic has said his side needs to have more polish in the final third. They haven’t put sides away when they have had the chance, and this has led to a few dropped points.

Matt Simon and import Marcos Urena took some time to adjust to each other but that has improved as the season has gone on.

Alou Kuol was one of the early season highlights but after moving to the bench he has not quite had the same impact.

If the Mariners really want to stay at the top then they will need to be more vicious in front of goal and really take their chances to put teams away.

 

Top student

Oliver Bozanic has been a revelation since re-joining his boyhood club and a calming presence in the midfield.

The Mariners captain has provided the experience and talent that was missing from the Mariners midfield of the past. He is a great mentor for up and coming midfielders such as Gianni Stensness and Josh Nisbet.

Bozanic has played a big part in the improvement of the Mariners defence and is also crucial to the attack by playing the deep lying playmaker role.

Embed from Getty Images

Class Clown

This is one of those rare times when the Mariners do not have any that meets this criteria. It is hard to find anyone that is underperforming in this squad – even the squaddies on the bench are contributing when given the chance.

 

Grade

A

Embed from Getty Images

Outlook

The outlook is great for the Mariners and their fans. Stajcic has insisted all season that his goal is to qualify for the AFC Champions League and that is achievable for this squad.

For now they must re-focus and get out of this small run of mixed results. Adelaide United and Melbourne City are in form and each have two games in hand. When they are played it could see the Mariners drop down the ladder.

The Mariners’ future is in their own hands and as long as they can return to the consistency they’ve displayed for most of the season then they will definitely challenge for silverware.

Featured Image Supplied: Central Coast Mariners

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Ben Johnston
I grew up on the Central Coast and fell in love with football in 2005. Supporter of Mariners, Manchester United and Macclesfield Town.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required