Friday, January 23, 2015

Arnold disrespected by Mariners in return to the coast

A-League Football returns to the Central Coast on Saturday night with Sydney FC visiting Central Coast Stadium for the first time this season, up against a Mariners side still trying to return to their best form. The game is an important clash for both sides, with Sydney looking to keep pace with the top four sides, and the Mariners trying to claw their way up from the bottom depths of the ladder. In what should have been a dignified and respected return to Gosford for former Mariners, and now Sydney FC Coach Graham Arnold, the match has been tarnished by the Mariners cheap and tardy advertisement released this week.

Arnold will now be out to make the Mariners eat their words
Arnold, who coached the Mariners for three years, leading them to two grand finals, a premiership and the club’s first and only championship, was the subject of a distasteful advertisement showering him in money and branding him ‘cashed up’. Asking fans to ‘be there as we take on the bling’, the Mariners have failed to truly capitalise on an opportunity to get fans back through the gates for the right reasons, and have instead embarrassed themselves to their own, and rival clubs’ fans. Graham Arnold is the reason the Mariners have got through the last few seasons, with his development of players leading to over $4.5 million in transfer fees for the club. The little club that punches above its weight just threw a low blow and ran away; back stepping faster than a dancer doing the foxtrot when Arnold mentioned defamation and legal options. At times during his three years on the coast, Arnold would have to lend players money when they weren’t paid on time, personally mow training fields and built his team on the lowest budget in the A-League. But this is not to say he wasn’t happy; Arnold, who regularly enjoyed a schooner of VB at the Terrigal Bowling Club, used the club’s predicament to build his culture and ultimately further the club’s identity as the battlers who no one gives a chance.

The Mariners as a club should have positively promoted Arnold’s return with close NSW rivals Sydney FC and tried to capitalise on the sunny Central Coast weather, grabbing those still on School holidays and visitors for the Australia Day long weekend. In what is the third of their School holiday matches, the club has posted crowd totals of 9932 and 7409 failing to meet the number required by owner Mike Charlesworth to be deemed viable for keeping matches in Gosford. With a continued trend by Charlesworth this season to move games into the North of Sydney, the Mariners need a response from local fans this weekend and one has to wonder what effect the advertisement will have on the already tough-to-get-through-gate coasties’.  

Positive showings from the Mariners in their last two outings against Brisbane Roar (3-3) and Melbourne City (2-0) before the Asian Cup break should have left supporters eager to return to the grass under the palms for the enticing encounter with Sydney FC. Building on such results will be in the minds of both Coach Phil Moss and Captain John Hutchinson, who will both be desperate for a win. The Mariners welcome back Nick Montgomery and Matt Simon from injury to the side after a three week break.

Sydney FC will be with new signings Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares and Robert Stambolziev, who have all been purchased by Arnold to cover for indefinite injury losses to key players Nick Carle, Sasa Ognenovski and Ali Abbas. Sydney will also be without Terry Antonis who is on international duty with the Socceroos at the Asian Cup. Arnold will be using the deep knowledge of his former side to his advantage, and will run with Shane Smeltz up front trying to penetrate the Mariners line.  

The spirited clash will no doubt be well attended by true Mariners fans, and with Josh Rose inking a new two-year deal with the club last week and their recent results, the Mariners have plenty to be building on. The figure of Arnold back on the sidelines, albeit on a different end than usual, will be a startling scene for fans, which were used to Arnold’s at times dramatic presence while leading the navy and yellow. Hopefully Sydney fans make the trip up the Freeway for the long weekend and holiday-makers take the opportunity to watch a first class game on the Central Coast. With tickets under $25, there’s no better time of the year to take in the sunset overlooking Brisbane Water from the picturesque Central Coast Stadium stands.

See you on Saturday night folks!