A difficult season for the Central Coast Mariners saw the club pick up their first ever Hyundai A-League wooden spoon. We examine the Navy and Yellow's season and look ahead to the 2016/17 campaign.
Record: Played 27, Won 3, Drawn 4, Lost 20
Goals scored: 33
Goals Conceded: 70
Leading Goal Scorer: Roy O’Donovan (9)
Best home crowd: 13,105: Round 16 against Western Sydney Wanderers
Star performer: Mitch Austin
In his first season in the A-League, the turbo-charged winger caught the eye with his electrifying speed and willingness to take on defenders down the left flank. The 25-year-old’s excellent crossing was a feature of his play, while he chipped in with five goals and two assists from his 23 appearances.
Breakout player: Liam Rose
The 19-year-old – who won the club’s Player of the Year gong – emerged as a well-rounded, tenacious and classy player in the middle of the pitch. Rose, who had three assists and a passing accuracy of almost 87%, would also have learned so much playing half a season alongside Spanish legend Luis Garcia.
Goal of the year: Roy O'Donovan
His absolute belter against Adelaide United in Round 25 takes the honours just ahead of Garcia's cheeky back-heel goal. The stunning volley took out the Hyundai A-League’s Goal of the Year at the recent Dolan Warren Medal night.
Highlight: Garcia's brilliance
An inspired performance from Luis Garcia (including a cheeky back-heel) saw the Mariners stun Wellington in an impressive 3-1 win in New Zealand. With the scores locked at 0-0 at the break, Garcia came off the bench and scored a classy opener within five minutes before setting up the next two in a well-deserved win, one of just three for the campaign.
Lowlight: Lack of discipline
The Mariners were put to the sword in front of their home fans in December in a crushing 5-1 defeat against a rampant Melbourne City. Discipline was also a problem for Tony Walmsley’s side. O’Donovan’s headbutt on Manny Muscat was an unsavoury moment, while the side received a league-high nine red cards and 58 yellows over the 27 rounds.
What they need?
There’s no doubt experience is at the top of Walmsley’s wish-list during the off-season. With the exception of Nick Montgomery and veteran left-back Josh Rose, there’s not a lot of A-League experience, though the signings of Faty and Tavares is a good start. The club conceded a record 70 goals (at almost three per game) - and championships are built on defence. Another top quality centre-back and goalkeeper should be first point of business for the Yellow and Navy.
Acquisitions for next season
Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Tom Heward-Belle (signed senior deal from NYL)
Losses for next season
Luis Garcia, Francesco Stella, Daniel Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok.
Outlook for 2016/17
After finishing bottom, the only way is up for the Mariners next season. While 2015/16 was always going to be a rebuilding season for the club, there are no excuses heading into Season 12. The club’s youngsters now have good experience in the A-League and you can be sure fans will be demanding results over entertainment this time around. Whether they can close the gap and compete with the top sides in the competition seems a big task but as we’ve seen in the A-League, it is possible to go from bottom to top very quickly. The club will also hope addition of wily English coach Harry Redknapp to the club’s staff as a football consultant might help get things right on the pitch.
The only way is up for the Mariners.