‘I still love the club’: Stajcic’s beautiful words ahead of reunion with former side

Hear from Perth Glory Head Coach Alen Stajcic ahead of his side's away clash with Central Coast Mariners this weekend.

He may be the head coach of Perth Glory but Alen Stajcic certainly still has a soft spot for his old club Central Coast Mariners.

The two sides will meet on New Year’s Eve in a game which will see Stajcic return to Gosford for the first time since leaving the club back in June 2021.

“I’m really excited personally to be honest,” said Stajcic when asked about returning to his old stomping ground. “I love the Central Coast, I loved living there it was a great area to live in.

“I still love the club. I was extremely happy for them when they won the Championship last year.

He continued: “Knowing how much hard work, toil and tough times they’ve been through over the previous seven or eight years before that picking up a lot of wooden spoons and ultimately over that period, lost a lot of hope.

“To see that club rejuvenated and back competitive and winning games and being at the top of the league was really pleasing so I was really happy for everyone who was at the club.”

Initially appointed in 2019 following the sacking of former Mariners head coach Mike Mulvey, the 50-year-old experienced both highs and lows while managing the Mariners.

After collecting the wooden spoon in 2019-20 in what was his first full season in charge, Stajcic then oversaw an incredible transformation at the club, guiding them to a third-placed finish the following campaign and with it, securing their best league finish since 2014.

Stajcic ultimately left the Mariners at the end of that season, opting instead to return to International management with the Philippines Women’s National side but the Mariners have certainly left an indelible mark.

“It’s such a family-friendly club,” continued Stajcic, who takes his Perth side to Industree Group stadium on December 31. “Being a regional club everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone in the community.

“I think that should be the strength of the A-League, having these teams in different regional centres and one-team towns and really building on the strength of our code which is universal throughout the whole country.

“For me, if we were to expand I’d be expanding to as many regional centres like the Central Coast as we could.”

Buoyed by their impressive recent 3-2 win over Macarthur, Stajcic’s Perth face a Central Coast Mariners team unbeaten in it’s last seven games in all competitions, the most recent result being a clinical 3-0 away win against Brisbane.

“They’re in-form but that doesn’t mean you win the next game,” said Stajcic. “I expect a tough game because they’ve got some good, key players, a lot of players that are all still there from last year’s Grand Final win.”

The game at Industree Group Stadium will be the last for Mariners forward Marco Tulio, who has agreed to join J-League side Kyoto Sanga in January.

Perth though possess a few dangerous weapons of their own with star-striker Adam Taggart in particularly good form having found the back of the net five times this season.

Glory defeated the Mariners 2-0 in the first meeting between these two sides earlier in the season and they’ll be out to secure just their third win of the campaign on Sunday.

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory
Sunday, December 31 2023
Industree Group Stadium
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+ & 10 Bold