‘It speaks volumes’: The ‘not easy’ transfer strategy paying dividends on the Central Coast

Central Coast Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery believes the transfers of a number of their key players “speaks volumes” of what the Isuzu UTE A-League champions have sought to do in the last few seasons.

The Mariners have negotiated outgoing transfers for a host of their Isuzu UTE A-League Championship-winning players in the weeks since their incredible Grand Final victory over Melbourne City.

Star striker Jason Cummings was signed by Indian Super League (ISL) champions Mohun Bagan, and Nectar Triantis and Sammy Silvera were snapped up by Championship outfits Sunderland and Middlesbrough respectively.

Meanwhile, young goalkeeper Anthony Pavlesic was also signed by Bundesliga juggernaut Bayern Munich after Socceroos sensation Garang Kuol joined the Premier League’s Newcastle United in January.

INS AND OUTS: Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24 Transfer Centre

The Mariners’ off-season business vindicates their strategy to blood young players, develop them and eventually sell to overseas clubs in order to sustain the future of the club.

“Everybody has to understand that we are a club that brings players in, develops and sells them overseas to top European clubs,” Montgomery said on Tuesday afternoon, as the club returned to pre-season training.

“For the club to transfer players to the likes of Middlesbrough, Sunderland, the top club in India and Bayern Munich, that is not easy to do. That speaks volumes of what we do here.

“But one door closes and another one opens and I think for younger players coming in and new players, they’re going to be getting the same opportunity to play and hopefully at the end of next season we can have more success because if you’re successful then everybody benefits.

“It is fantastic to see some of our Central Coast Mariners players playing in top leagues around the world. That can only help the future of the national team and the A-League.”

“For us recruiting, it definitely makes it a little bit easier and we’ve got players coming in, and we’re working on players at the minute but it’s a long pre-season and we are looking forward to reshaping the squad.”

Montgomery revealed Brian Kaltak will be given some extra rest as a result of going on international duty with Vanuatu, while Marco Tulio is set to re-join the group on Wednesday after a trip back home to Brazil.

The Mariners have also been busy on the arrivals front too, re-signing young star Alou Kuol after a stint overseas at German side Stuttgart, along with fellow academy graduate Jing Reec (Arhaus – on loan), while Jack Warshawsky (Western Sydney Wanderers) and Nathan Paull (scholarship contract – Sydney FC) also joined.

After bursting onto the scene in the 2020-21 season, Kuol struggled for minutes throughout his two campaigns in Germany, only making one senior appearance and playing primarily for their reserves side – while also spending a short stint on loan at SV Sandhausen.

However, his arrival helps fill the gap left by the outgoing Cummings, as Montgomery looks to retool his squad heading into the 2023-24 campaign.

“I’m just absolutely delighted to have him back. He’s like my lost son,” Montgomery said.

“Lost him for a couple of years, but myself and Sergio (Raimundo) brought him in from Shepparton, like Garang when he was a kid and his rise to stardom was probably a little too quick but he got a fantastic move to a club like Stuttgart and you’re never going to stop a player getting a move there. Football is football.

“It didn’t quite eventuate, he was near the first team, in and out for a couple of seasons but that also hampered him going out on loan but that’s just how football is.

“Fortunately, we found ourselves in a situation where we negotiated with Stuttgart and were fantastic throughout the whole situation and they’ve entrusted us to bring him back here to get him playing and getting back to scoring goals.

“I have no doubt he’s going to be back in Europe in the next couple of seasons… He’s a fantastic player and when we lost Jason Cummings, a 20 goal a season scorer, it’s not easy to replace.

“He’s got big shoes to fill but if anyone can fill them with his personality and his goals, it’s going to be Alou and I think the A-League is lucky to have him back.

“He’s got a point to prove as well which is always dangerous for other defenders.”

Montgomery hinted a few more players may arrive this pre-season, as they look to replace the host of players they lost to overseas clubs.

It’s been almost two months since the Mariners were crowned champions, but the excitement in Gosford is still reverberating around the coastal New South Wales town.

“I still go to the shops and cafes now with my wife and my girls and everybody is still so happy,” he said.

“People say win a trophy, it lasts a lifetime, it does. The happiness that brought everybody on the Central Coast… has been really special. Long may it continue.”

Gosford has since welcomed European champions England to town for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they are using Industree Group Stadium as their training venue throughout the tournament

Former world champions and Euro 2022 runners-up Germany have also been based in Gosford.

Montgomery was on hand alongside the club’s Liberty A-League coach Emily Husband on Tuesday afternoon as England hosted an open training session.

“It’s amazing to have the World Cup in Australia… It’s been great to watch,” he said.

“To have the German women’s team and the England women’s team who I’m actually going to go watch train today. I know the goalkeeper coach, I played with him at Sheffield United.

“I’m going to take my girls down there as well. I think it’s inspirational for all the girls and the female footballers, not only on the Central Coast but around the world and we know Australia is a beautiful place.

“Everyone’s seen the stadiums and the infrastructure we’ve got down here and that’s why the A-League is such a good competition. I think people just forget it’s the other side of the world and don’t follow it as much as they should.

“I can tell you after the Grand Final, I know a lot people watched that and I think that put football back on the map and I think the Women’s World Cup is another great opportunity for everyone to enjoy the game.”

Central Coast will head to Thailand for a pre-season tour where they will play three matches against local sides, as they look to acclimatise to the hotter climates they will be playing in during the AFC Cup.

“It’s important that we get the team together and go to a hot climate,” he said.

“We are going to be playing Asian Cup games where we have to travel to the likes of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. We came back a little bit later than everyone else due to the final but that’s just the way it is. It only gives us a few weeks to prepare for Sydney.

“The Thai teams are in pre-season and through a contact of mine, we’ve managed to get a trip to Thailand to a good facility.

“We want to use it as a foundation to build not only for pre-season, but the season ahead and the three competitions we will be vying for.”

The Mariners officially kick-off their new campaign against Sydney FC in the Australia Cup Round of 32 on Sunday, August 13.