Mike Mulvey’s rebuild of the Central Coast Mariners is really taking shape, with the signing of Tommy Oar another crucial piece of the puzzle for the Hyundai A-League club.
While the move is huge for the Gosford-based outfit, it’s just as important for the Caltex Socceroos winger.
This will be Oar’s third stint in the Hyundai A-League after two successful spells previously at Brisbane Roar.
He burst onto the scene as a teenager a decade ago, with his breakout season in 2009/10 not only earning him a Caltex Socceroos debut at 18, but also a dream move to Europe.
Oar, who was being compared to Caltex Socceroos great Harry Kewell at the time, signed with Eredivisie side FC Utrecht where he quickly made his mark.
The 2012/13 season was his best with Utrecht, leading the team with seven assists for the campaign as well as creating the most chances (63) for his side.
After starting all three games for the Caltex Socceroos at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, there were rumours of a possible move to Ajax that – unfortunately for Oar – never materialised.
He would eventually leave FC Utrecht in 2015 – after making over 100 appearances in five years at the club – and after a short stint in England with Ipswich was back at the Roar.
Keen to re-ignite his career, Oar thrived under John Aloisi for the 2016/17 season, and the numbers were impressive.
He had five assists for the campaign – the equal-most of any player in the squad – having a hand in six goals as they fell just one game short of the Grand Final.
It earned Oar another big move abroad, signing with Cypriot champions APOEL Nicosia and making 19 appearances in his first season with the club.
But now he’s back in the Hyundai A-League for a third time, so what can we expect from Oar?
There’s no doubt he returns to Australia a more mature, well-rounded and mentally-stronger player.
Predominantly a left-sided winger throughout his career, Oar’s great strength remains his lethal crossing from the left and ability to beat his defender one-on-one.
But there’s also some versatility to his game, having been deployed as a no.10 at various occasions during his time in Europe, highlighting Oar's ability to adapt in the final third.
Just how Mulvey uses Oar remains to be seen, but he’s likely to play in his preferred wide position on the left as one of three attackers in the coach’s preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Positioned in front of Jack Clisby and to the left of Michael McGlinchey who is likely to be deployed in the no.10 role, Oar would offer a dependable outlet and threat from wide areas.
Oar’s acquisition certainly gives Central Coast more options and threat in the front third and if he can have the same impact he’s had in the Hyundai A-League in the past, the Mariners are set to benefit.