This Central Coast Mariners season is the greatest turnaround in A-League history

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Despite their recent drop-off in form from their early season heroics, the Central Coast Mariners have looked brand new. Starting the season as odds on favourites for the wooden spoon, no one could have seen this coming from the boys from Gosford.

Although they sit second on the ladder, the Mariners haven’t yet secured finals football just yet, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive the turnaround has been. This season’s turnaround by Alen Stajcic and his staff has been truly immense.

Their last five seasons have consisted of four wooden spoons, and another bottom three finish. The Mariners this season have doubled their total points tally from last season with four matches still to play.

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The turnaround hasn’t just been on the pitch for the Mariners; their recruitment has also been much more successful. Marco Urena, Stefan Nigro, youngster Daniel Bouman and in particular their skipper, Oliver Bozanic, have been impressive. All of the signings have added something to Stajcic’s squad. Daniel De Silva returning to what we know as his best form as well hasn’t hurt the Mariners’ performances.

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The youth within the squad as well, something which in the past has been a cornerstone of the club’s success, have been exceptional. Alou Kuol, Joshua Nisbet, Jordan Smylie and Matt Hatch have all contributed to the cause. Stajcic is able to rely on these youngsters to fulfil varying roles.

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Vast improvements in quality of performance from last season to this season across the pitch as well highlight’s just how impressive Stajcic’s turnaround of the side has been. Jack Clisby, Kye Rowles, Gianni Stensness and Matt Simon have all had much improved campaigns. Add to these the emergence of Ruon Tongyik to claim the role of Rowles’ partner at the back and you have a reliable back four. This regular back four have provided valuable assistance to last season’s Mariners Medal winner Mark Birighitti. The result of this combination has been one of the league’s best and most consistent defences.

Stajcic has worked wonders with this squad, and has improved all aspects of Mariners. He has improved them at both ends of the pitch in both style and output. Most importantly, they have again become a side that teams do not wish to face.

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If the Mariners can go deep into the final’s series and challenge the runaway leaders Melbourne City for the title, this resurgence led by Stajcic has to be considered as the greatest turnarounds in A-League history. Yes, Melbourne City have run away with the Premiers Plate. However, what Stajcic has done with this side cannot be understated. Once finals comes around, it’s anyone’s game and the Mariners are as good a chance as any to win it all.

Feature Image Credit: Central Coast Mariners

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

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