Central Coast Mariners skipper John Hutchinson is the only member of the Mariners squad who has been with the club from the very start of the Hyundai A-League and says the young talent in the squad has re-energised.
He turns 35 in December and with his contract up at the end of the season, Hutchinson knows he has a tough decision to make on whether to play on for another year.
“It would be nice to go around one more season and make it 20 years as a professional footballer,” he said.
“To have 11 years in the A-League as well would be fantastic. I’m just looking at it one year at a time, I’m in no rush to sign a contract. I’ll see how I’m feeling around Christmas time and talk with the staff.
“I don’t see myself playing for anyone else but the Mariners so there’s no rush to start negotiating, I’ll just wait and see how the body handles this season.
“For me the young boys give me energy to train every day. I see them working hard and running around and just to be there and watching them develop into good footballers gives me energy to keep going.
“The day I don’t like it will be the day I retire.”
And "Hutcho" is often left in awe by the quality of new signing Malick Mane and predicts the Senegalese striker will light up the Hyundai A-League.
Malick, on a season-long loan from Swedish club IFK Goteborg, is expected to lead the line for the Mariners in Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League season-opener against the Newcastle Jets.
A bulky and speedy frontman, the 25-year-old is seen as the man to ignite a Mariners attack which struggled to catch fire last season.
Phil Moss’ side scored just 33 times in 27 games, the second worst attacking record in the competition ahead of only Perth Glory.
“He’s (Mane) going to be really great for us. He’s quick and will score goals,” Hutchinson told www.a-league.com.au this week.
“He took a little time to settle in to our culture. It’s different to Europe, we actually like each other and we’re mates on and off the field and work hard for each other.
“He obviously hasn’t experienced that in Europe. He’s come here and he’s settled in now and we can see the benefits of having a player like him. He’s explosive and unpredictable as well.
“Sometimes you’re in awe of what he does and other times he does stuff that nobody can see is about to happen. He has that little bit of flare that’s unexpected as well.”
Mane isn’t the only new recruit that has impressed Hutchinson, who believes attacking midfielder Richard Vernes will thrive and fill the void left by Wellington Phoenix-bound Michael McGlinchey.
“He’s a fantastic talent, got amazing feet and quick, he’s kind of out of the mould of McGlinchey,” the Mariners skipper said of Vernes.
“Hopefully he can get us a lot of assists and goals. We need players in the front line this year scoring goals.
“We probably lacked that last season, a real natural goal-scorer, and hopefully Richard along with Mane can help bring that to the team.”
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