Cen­tral Coast Mariners

Rated, an­a­lysed and in­ter­viewed

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

Considering the nightmare that was Cen­tral Coast’s 2015/2016 cam­paign, where they won the wooden spoon and broke records as one of the worst teams in the competition’s his­tory, 2016/2017 was a step in the right di­rec­tion.

The Mariners fin­ished eighth and won three more games than they did the pre­vi­ous sea­son – but with­out ever chal­leng­ing for a fi­nals spot. Okon changed the style of the club, mov­ing from a de­fence-fo­cused counter-at­tack­ing phi­los­o­phy to one based on dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion. There was more sta­bil­ity from the Mariners at times but there is still a long way to go.

THE GAME PLAN

With Tony Walm­s­ley at the helm, Cen­tral Coast were ex­ceed­ingly frag­ile at the back and prone to con­ced­ing em­bar­rass­ingly sloppy goals. Okon has tried to tighten up de­fence and keep the ball a lot bet­ter. It is a work in progress but with solid sign­ings at cen­tre back and cen­tral midfield, there is hope. When the Mariners win the ball it will be up to Danny De Silva, An­drew Hoole and Tom Hiariej to cre­ate. Okon is likely to stick with ei­ther a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 for­ma­tion that he con­stantly favoured last year.

STRENGTHS

Midfield. The Mariners have strength­ened heav­ily here with the ar­rival of Dutch duo Wout Brama and Hiariej. Both have an ex­cel­lent pedi­gree and will be a calm­ing influence. There is also at­tack­ing nous in the mid­dle with the ar­rival of Hoole and De Silva to com­ple­ment Con­nor Pain on the flank.

WEAK­NESSES

De­fence. The Mariners re­main weak at the back with Ben Kennedy and Tom Glover their two goal­keep­ers. Kennedy has been in­jury-prone re­cently, and sus­cep­ti­ble to the oc­ca­sional mistake, while Tot­ten­ham young­ster Glover has po­ten­tial but is an un­known quan­tity. But in cen­tral de­fence, with the sign­ings of Alan Baro and Antony Golec, they fi­nally have some ex­pe­ri­ence.

LESSONS FROM LAST SEA­SON

Both at­tack and de­fence were an is­sue for the Mariners. They con­ceded 52 goals and scored just 31. Okon shored up the cen­tre half area but the loss of Ir­ish poacher Roy O’Dono­van to the Jets was a ham­mer blow. O’Dono­van scored 11 goals, just over a third of the club’s whole tally for the sea­son. Okon needs new Span­ish sign­ing As­drubal to pick up the slack, along with Blake Pow­ell and young gun Trent Buha­giar.

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