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Season Preview 2014/15: Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast are on the hunt for a fifth-successive finals berth, but with a host of players departing during the off-season, the pressure will be on Phil Moss and his coaching team to get the best out of a squad that has parted ways with so much talent. Justin Tickner looks at where the keys to the Mariners success or failure will lie this season:

Issues

What will be worrying die-hard Mariners fans at the moment is the imbalance between the departures and the arrivals at Gosford this year — and it’s not as if we’re talking about a bunch of squad players and youngsters being moved on. Marcos Flores, Michael McGlinchey, Mile Sterjovski, Bernie Ibini and Marcel Seip have all left the club, which would be enough to create a deep hole in any squad.

The problem has been the lack of quality signings made to fill those holes. Hungarian Richard Vernes could be a quality signing, but at just 22 years old and with less than 50 professional caps in his career, it’s hard to make a judgement one way or another. Senegalese striker Malick Mane has been talked up by Phil Moss as being full of pace and goal-scoring prowess, and whilst he has played Europa League football recently, his goal-scoring record in Norway and Sweden doesn’t exactly scream ‘talisman’. Beyond those two players, though, the only other major signing is that of goalkeeper Matthew Nash, and he’s likely to play second-fiddle to Liam Reddy regardless.

With a stable foundation in defence, built on Eddy Bosnar, Storm Roux, Josh Rose and the impressive Zac Anderson, the issue facing the Mariners will certainly be at the pointy end of the park. New signing Mane and youngster Mitchell Duke will be relied upon heavily for goals this season, with Mariners’ fans hoping beyond hope that Duke, in particular, can improve on his goal-scoring record from last season (3 goals in 29 games). Aside from Duke, Phil Moss will be hoping both Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald will take the next big step in their careers, and really take a stranglehold of the midfield.

One to watch

Kim Seung-Yong

Joining the club in February, Kim managed to net twice and provide a series of assists in his short spell with the club last season. This year, with a full pre-season under his belt, expect the former Korean youth international to take control of the Mariners’ play up forward. His free-kick prowess should see him cause countless headaches for opposition goalkeepers this year as well — just as long as Eddy Bosnar can be persuaded to step away from the odd set-piece.

Form

The Mariners’ pre-season results started out promisingly, but unfortunately have degraded since. Draws against Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and the Newcastle Jets, and an FFA Cup victory away at Olympic FC in Brisbane, would’ve provided some amount of positivity for the squad. However, when you look beyond those games, you see a troubling trend. Losses to the Young Socceroos and NPL NSW side Sydney Olympic don’t reflect well on a team that will be hoping for finals football once again this season. Even the Round of 32 FFA Cup win over South Coast Wolves wasn’t entirely convincing, with the NPL side more than capable of taking it up to their higher-ranked opponents.

Final Thoughts

It’s going to be a tough slog for Central Coast fans this season. There appears to be far too much riding on too few, with the likes of Duke, Mane and Kim needing to fire on all cylinders from start to finish if the Mariners are going to challenge this season. A balanced and settled back four will make it difficult for opposition teams to break through, but it’s at the other end of the park where the Mariners will find it tough.

Pre-Season Results

Central Coast Mariners 4-1 CCM Academy — Bosnar, Fitzgerald, Petrillo, Trifiro

Melbourne City 1-1 Central Coast Mariners — Mane

Brisbane Roar 1-1 Central Coast Mariners — Fitzgerald

Central Coast Mariners 0-0 Newcastle Jets

South Coast Wolves 0-1 Central Coast Mariners (FFA Cup) — Trifiro

Olympic FC 1-3 Central Coast Mariners (FFA Cup) — Fitzgerald, Sim, Trifiro

Central Coast Mariners 1-5 Young Socceroos

Central Coast Mariners 1-3 Sydney Olympic — Sim

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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