Sunday, August 19, 2007
A-League Anticiaption, Part 6
Central Coast Mariners
Lawrie McKinna has resisted the South American craze, and instead looked closer to home in an attempt to bolster his already impressive squad for 2007/08. A number of players from local clubs have been promoted to the Mariners squad, and although these Central Coast natives will probably be bit-part players at Bluetongue this season, the initiative is a commendable one.
The core of the side that has battled through the first two A-League seasons is still there, and one of the stars of 2005/06, the powerful attacking left-back Dean Heffernan, has come back from FC Nürnberg.
It is just this cohesion and familiarity with their fellow players that could make this a good season for the Mariners. Saso Petrovski, though subject to moods, is a good acquisition up front; Nik Mrdja, who has seen precious little A-League action thus far, might find the signing from Sydney FC a suitable partner.
Adam Kwasnik is another striking option, but his poor finishing last term suggests that he might be better employed in a right-wing role. On the other flank, Stewart Petrie has finally hung up the boots, but Damien Brown could go some way to filling the breach (especially with Heffernan supporting him on the overlap).
In central midfield, the Mariners look good, with Tom Pondeljak still one of the most creative players in the country, Andre Gumprecht a miracle of perpetual motion at his best, and Mile Jedinak improving fast. Greg Owens is a very useful addition, especially given his pleasing versatility; he may end up being an understudy of sorts, if Gumprecht can rediscover some of his 2005/06 form.
It is at the back that the Mariners are surely a little vulnerable. There is a distinct lack of pace in central defence (this was particularly apparent during their pre-season hitout against Blacktown City), with the notable exception of Andrew Clark; combined with the attacking tendencies of their left-back, this could leave them open to quick counter-attacks at times.
On the whole, however, the Mariners look good. Barring the sort of injury run that has blighted both of their previous A-League campaigns, I feel they have the quality and depth to make the finals in 2007/08.