"If I have to take a yellow and miss the grand final, then that’s what will happen." Patrick Zwaanswijk.
The mentality at Central Coast Mariners has always been that of the team as a unit comes above that of any individual player.
It-s one reason they have had so much success throughout the years in the Hyundai A-League, it and obviously a strict budget is also the reason the club shies away from signing marquee players.
The Mariners would argue they don-t need them and the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
In fact the closest thing they might have ever had to a ‘marquee player- is Dutch central defender Patrick Zwaanswijk, but the man who is arguably their on-field leader embodies the team first mentality more than anyone.
Coming into the grand final qualifier with Perth Glory, Zwaanswijk is in ‘foul trouble-... two yellows in two matches against Brisbane Roar has him on the cusp of suspension.
If the Mariner s beat Perth and Zwaanswijk picks up another yellow it-s a case of ‘well done, but enjoy sitting on the bench for the big game at Suncorp-.
Zwaanswijk isn-t bothered though, insisting he would rather the team play without him than not play at all.
“I-ve been on yellows many times, I-m not scared of getting one and it won-t change my game. If I have to take a yellow and miss the grand final then that-s what will happen, of course I-d rather not get a yellow, but if the team needs me to get a yellow I will,” he said.
Just what chance the Mariners would have without him against the Roar is debatable; his rocketing shot begun their comeback last weekend and his strength in defence is important, but what Zwaanswijk saw that day is that the Roar are beatable and the Mariners, despite being regarded as a heavily structured team are capable of being very entertaining.
“After we were down 2-0, the mentality was to just give it a go and play a different brand of football and it was something I enjoyed. As a team we were relaxed, we weren-t worried and we played some of our best football for the year,” Zwaanswijk said.
“As soon as I hit my goal and then we had two goals in three minutes, we were already thinking about the next semi final against Perth and how we could get another shot at the Roar.
“We showed we can play a real attacking, exciting style and to be honest I think they were a little uncomfortable with us showing we could play that way.
“I love to play like that, we all forgot about any pressure and played some entertaining football , is we play that way it-s a joy to watch us lay, if we play like that against Perth, I have no doubt we will win.”
But will the Mariners throw caution to the wind again? This time against the Glory as both their seasons go on the line, or will they look to eke out a tight win?
“Tactics are always up to the coach and Arnie is pretty smart, he gives us every chance in every game.
“So while one or two players might like to play that way we do what-s best for the team, it-s what Central Coast Mariners are about, the teams here have always been about the benefit of the team, not the individual and that-s why we have had so much success.”
Confident as he may be in his side-s chances of knocking off a rampant Glory, Zwaanswijk is acutely aware of the dangers they present.
Shane Smeltz, Billy Mehmet, Travis Dodd and company will attack to the hilt and Zwaanswijk knows they will also be fired up to erase their winless record at Gosford, believing that statistic has served to further motivate the Glory.
“We know they-re dangerous and in form, we know Shane Smeltz can score a goal, Billy Mehmet can also put them away and Dodd can do things on the ball, then you have Andrezinho and Miller, things won-t be easy for us,” he said.
“I think that statistic is the one thing that will count against us, they are in form and confident and will feel like they can change that.”
Tough though it may be to overcome the Glory in their present form, Zwaanswijk believes is is Central Coast-s destiny to march onward and face the Roar again, if not their right, feeling they have earned the chance to win the Plate and Grand Final trophies this year.
“I think we at the Mariners deserve a reward for our season, we deserve another shot at Brisbane and the opportunity to take home the grand final trophy.
“We want to have another go at them, we know if we play like we did against them last time that we can beat them, we-re not worried about going to Suncorp either, because we also know we can beat them there.”
As for the other issue surrounding Zwaanswijk, his expiring contract, he says it-s a matter of if not when he will sign with the Mariners, but it won-t happen until the end of the season.
“We will take the chance to sit down after the season has finished and discuss things, it-s not a case of if it will happen but when it will happen, both sides want a new deal and we-ll work one out. I-m going to sign.”