Report Card - Central Coast Mariners

Were the Mariners hampered by the loss of a couple of key players? Absolutely.

Just when it seemed the little team that could, actually could win the double we found out they couldn-t.

It-s sad really because there is so much to like about the Mariners. They have never had a roster that is the envy of every club, never even had a marquee player, the budget just isn-t there yet, that may of course change if Russian ownership becomes involved, but until it does they may as well be every A-League fans second team.

Did they peak too early in season 2011/12? Probably. Were they hampered by the loss of a couple of key players? Absolutely.

If Matt Simon and Rostyn Griffiths had of stayed, hadn-t of been offered more money to go overseas then it becomes a very realistic proposition that the Mariners would have won both the Premiership and the Championship.

They didn-t though, their form tapered off late in the year and heartbreak was back in vogue at Bluetongue Stadium, none more heartbroken than those who missed penalties though, it was a tough end for them, but more so for Patrick Zwaanswijk and Michael McGlinchey.

Defence

Best in the League! Mat Ryan came of age this season between the sticks and if anyone doesn-t think he has a big future because of his height (181cm), he is likely going to prove you wrong.

Just 24 goals conceded in 27 games is impressive and while Ryan can take credit for some of that it has to be noted their defence keeps its shape better than most in the league and stymies opposition attacks with ease in the air and at ground level.

Zwaanswijk and Wilkinson are the best central defence pairing in the league and when backed up by Josh Rose and Pedj Bojic on the left and right they form a formidable line and distribute well going forward.

Midfield

The Mariners midfield is brimming with talent and the obvious is Mustafa Amini, while he is leaving for bigger and better things at Borussia Dortmund there is still plenty of talent left behind.

Michael McGlinchey is among the best in the A-League when it comes to an assist, Oli Bozanic and John Hutchinson are tough and Tom Rogic is a star in the making, he-s probably already there. All five did well in the 2011/12 season.

Attack

If there is an area where the Mariners fall down it-s here. The post Matt Simon era has seen fewer goals scored and Graham Arnold couldn-t fix the issue.

Aging strikers Adam Kwasnik and Daniel McBreen have been retained to partner the speedy Bernie Ibini-Isei (leading goalscorer with seven) but they need someone a little younger and more dominant.

When your second highest scorer is your central defender, there is an issue.

One thing is certain though, John Sutton might go down as one of the worst buys of the year. He came from Scotland with a big reputation, but just couldn-t adapt to the style and performed poorly.

Coach

Graham Arnold once again showed he has what it takes as a manager and the fact the Mariners could lose him, due to a large bid from Sydney FC, does not augur well, but in his time at the club he has done everything bar take them to a grand final, he might need to start anew elsewhere, either that or he is driven by the Mariners- holy grail - a grand final win.

Regardless of that 2011/12 was his year. He was named Coach of the Year and that was deserved, he even has the Mariners back in contention to make the last 16 of the ACL.

Graham Arnold: 27 games, 15 wins, 6 losses, 6 draws; 51 points from a possible 63.

Central Coast Mariners Overall Grade: A