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Mariners sack head coach just weeks out from A-League season

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Central Coast Mariners boss Peter Storrie insists there is still plenty of time for a new coach to salvage something from the forthcoming A-League campaign after the sacking of Tony Walmsley.

Just eight weeks out from their A-League opener against Perth, the Mariners have parted ways with Walmsley, who guided them to only five wins in 30 games in charge as well as the wooden spoon last season.

It is not the decision itself that comes as a shock so much as the timing.

Walmsley appeared to have the firm backing of the Mariners’ management and board throughout what Storrie described as a “restructuring process”, as the club slashed their wage bill and looked to the future by blooding masses of young players.

Last week’s disastrous FFA Cup loss to Green Gully appears to have forced their hand, but Storrie said it was only “part” of the reason for Walmsley’s axing.

“I don’t think the timing of these decisions is always correct, throughout the whole of history of managers that leave clubs,” executive vice-chairman Storrie told reporters on Monday.

“Having looked at it over the course of the last month, I felt that a change was needed.

“We could have left the situation, lost the first half a dozen games and we’d have been in a similar position.

“We made the judgment call that it’s best do so now.”

The Mariners will now lean heavily on football consultant Harry Redknapp, who will meet with Storrie and owner Mike Charlesworth next week in the UK, as the search begins for a permanent replacement.

Former Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey and Green Gully’s Arthur Papas, the man who brought Walmsley down, are the early contenders.

Assistant coaches John Hutchinson, Matthew Nash, Brice Johnson and Ben Cahn will oversee pre-season preparations in the interim, but Storrie said Hutchinson had already ruled himself out of the full-time job.

Whoever the new coach is, they’ll have little room to manoeuvre, with all five import slots already filled and the squad almost at capacity.

However, Storrie argued they’ll still have the same amount of time as any coach in England would at the start of pre-season.

“There’s plenty of time for someone to get a hold of it,” he said.

“Take the UK – most teams will come back training on July 1 and they’ll be playing league games of the first weekend of August, which is only four or five weeks.”

Also out of the reckoning is Redknapp, who infamously called them the ‘South Coast Mariners’ in a British radio interview earlier this year.

“I think his wife might have something to say about that,” Storrie said of Redknapp coaching the side.


The man who steered Brisbane Roar to victory in the 2014 A-League grand final is actually on the lookout for a new job, having been “rested” as coach of his Malaysian side, Terengganu FA, last month. Before that he was with Sabah FA, Melbourne Victory’s W-League side and Gold Coast United, where he worked wonders with their youth team.

Considered one of the most talented young coaches coming through the domestic ranks, Papas has served a series of quality apprenticeships in the national underage system, NPL Victoria and even India, where he was assistant to Brazilian great Zico. Green Gully’s win over the Mariners could get him over the line.

Undoubtably one of the top Australian coaches outside of the A-League, having just steered Sydney United 58 to a second premiership title in NPL NSW. However, Rudan is known to be comfortable at the helm of his boyhood club and with life as a Fox Sports pundit, so he will take some convincing.

The former Socceroos and NSL scoring machine has been either player-coach or coach of Adelaide City for the better part of the last 10 years. Two years ago, Mori’s City beat Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup, while this year they’ll finish top of NPL SA. Deserves a chance somewhere.

Okon has been coach of the Young Socceroos, as well as an assistant to the Olyroos, since 2012. Prior to that he spent a season as Miron Bleiberg’s offsider at Gold Coast United. A switch back to club-land could appeal to him.

© 2016 The Roar | This article was written by Vince Rugari and appeared on the Roar website on 08th August, 2016


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