End of 2020/21 season report card: Central Coast Mariners

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Believe it or not, the 2020/21 premiership season is done and dusted.

Here at The Football Sack we like to investigate each and every squad’s performance throughout the season so let us take a look at how the guys on the coast held up this year.

Season summary

The Central Coast Mariners had a completely unexpected season, sitting on top of the ladder for a total of 15 of the 24 match days.

Their first half of the season was outstanding but as other teams began to work out how to stop them the results began to slip, and they eventually had to win on the final day just to lock up third place.

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It seemed the Mariners could do no wrong at the start of the season, with impressive come from behind wins and blistering counter attacking football. Matt Simon looked ten years younger, Alou Kuol was so good that VfB Stuttgart came calling. It seemed everything they tried worked, all their youngsters were firing and when Marco Urena joined the team they were unstoppable.

Although the second half of the season did not live up to the first, with just four wins in their final 13 games. Their attack seemed to grind to a halt as teams adjusted and the Mariners had no answer. Kuol and Simon could not provide like they did before, and the creativity from the midfield threats of Danny DeSilva, Josh Nisbet and Daniel Bouman was not there.

The Mariners finished their season with a heartbreaking loss to A-League newbies Macarthur FC in an elimination final at Gosford. It was their best season in a long time and fans will be proud of what their club was able to accomplish.

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Areas of Excellence

Alen Stajcic was able to completely reinvent the Mariners defence, with players most clubs had considered not good enough.

The Mariners defence only conceded 33 goals (the third best in the league) and Mark Birighitti had eight clean sheets (the second best in league). This was a huge change from the Mariners of the past, who basically conceded the most goals in the past six years.

Everyone knew Ruon Tongyik had potential to be a great defender and he finally proved it this season with some superb performances. He performed so well he earned a call up to the Socceroos.

Kye Rowles, Jack Clisby, Stefan Nigro were some of the first names on the sheet every week and later on in the season they were joined by impressive youngsters Dan Hall and Lewis Miller.

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Areas in need of improvement

While the Mariners attack fired them up to the top of the ladder, they seemed to run out ideas and finished the season off with a whimper.

The Mariners were ranked eighth in terms of goals scored this season.

The Mariners top scorers were Simon and Kuol, Simon is getting closer to retirement and while he will always be the GOAT, it is unlikely he can produce another 10 goal season.

Meanwhile Kuol is off to Germany and will definitely need to be replaced. Urena showed a lot of potential, but it will be tough for the Mariners to hang on to him for another season.

Top student

Captain Oliver Bozanic was crucial to the resurgence of the Mariners this season.

His calming presence in front of the defence was integral to the side conceding less goals than previous seasons. He was also the deep lying playmaker they needed to start attacks with.

Bozanic is passionate leader that brings those around him up a level, he was often paired with Gianni Stensness or Josh Nisbet who both seemed to learn a lot from him.

Fans can be happy knowing that they have a true Coastie to lead their team for at least another season.

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Class clown

Mike Charlesworth

There is not much to say about the Mariner’s owner that has not already been said. A lack of interest and investment means this miracle season will be all the loyal Mariners fans will have for the next few years as they once again lose all their best talents and coaches.

Charlesworth has indicated that he wants to sell the club, but after nine months there is still nothing to report. Hopefully a new owner takes the reins and builds something more long term.

Grade: A

Outlook

Things look pretty bleak for the Mariners moving forward. With only five players contracted for next season so far, there is plenty of work to be done.

The reported loss of Stajcic is massive and there is doubt anyone could step into his shoes and replicate the success he has had at the club this year.

Once again it is back to the drawing board for the Mariners. The fans are in for a very long off season of rough news and saying goodbye to the players that gave them such wonderful memories.

Featured Image Credit: Central Coast Mariners

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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.
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