New Mariners boss explains his philosophy ahead of first match in charge: ‘It’s important’

Central Coast Mariners head coach Mark Jackson
Former Central Coast Mariners and Socceroos star Tom Rogic has retired from professional football. We take a look back at one of his best goals in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Welcome to A-Leagues Life, bringing you all the latest news and goings-on at your club. This is how the week is shaping up across the A-Leagues and beyond.

Mariners boss prepares for managerial bow

Mark Jackson is the new Football Manager of Central Coast Mariners after title-winning coach Nick Montgomery left for Hibernian in Scotland and the Englishman will oversee his first game on Wednesday night.

Jackson’s Mariners host Filipino outfit Stallion Laguna in the AFC Cup on matchday two.

On Tuesday, he held his first press conference since taking charge of the Isuzu UTE A-League champions.

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He is in Gosford after a 20-year playing career for the likes of Leeds United and Scunthorpe United, before returning to the former as a coach in their Academy system, helming teams all the way from Under-15s to U23s.

Jackson was recently head coach of MK Dons, but he was unable to avoid relegation in League One last season.

“I’ve been really impressed with the standard and level of the players. The work rate is excellent. I knew that would be the case,” he told reporters as the Mariners look to bounce back from their opening loss to Terengganu.

“I talked a lot about continuity with the players too because they’re on that upward curve with the success they’ve had.

“But it’s important we understand we have to move forward. In football if you stand still for a moment, people will catch up.

“As a team, as a club, we have to evolve and move forward and build on the success from last season.”

Jackson also discussed his philosophy and what Mariners fans can expect from the team.

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“I’m quite adaptable with formations,” he said. “You’ll hopefully see over time is players executing certain behaviours on the pitch, in and out of possession.

“I’m certainly a front-foot coach who wants his team to play aggressive. I want to try and dominate the ball and play exciting football.

“Ultimately that’s what supporters want to see, that’s what I want to be apart of and I think I have a group of players here who want to play that way as well.

He added: “I think we have a group here who can get better. I’m hoping we can have a really successful season.”

Mariners captain and former Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic accompanied Jackson at the press conference.

The veteran provided an insight into the initial reaction to Montgomery’s departure for Scottish Premiership outfit Hibs.

“There was a bit of a flat point which is to be expected when Monty left,” Vukovic revealed.

“He was massive for a lot of these young players. For a lot of them he’s the only coach they’ve known at this level. It’s only natural some boys were flat but in the last couple of weeks it’s really picked up.”

City looking to fly the Aussie flag in Champions League

Melbourne City are away to Chinese side Zhejiang Professional FC in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday night.

After a goalless draw at home to J2 League outfit Ventforet Kofu, the three-time reigning Isuzu UTE A-League premiers have the chance to claim maximum points on matchday two.

For new signing Steven Ugarkovic, City are determined to make the “whole country proud” in Australia.

“It’s important that we do well in this tournament, not just for the club but the whole of Australian football,” he said.

“Obviously with COVID, it affected not just Australian football but in the world. It’s a good opportunity for us to be our best foot forward.

“Obviously having two teams in the AFC Cup, it’s a tournament they can push for.

“Our priority is to do well here and do the whole country proud.”

APL Chair headlines pre-season event at Vic Parliament

New Australian Professional Leagues (APL) Chair Stephen Conroy delivered his first official speech on Tuesday night.

Conroy is the APL’s inaugural Independent Chair and addressed Victorian State Parliament at an inaugural pre-season reception.

The three Melbourne A-Leagues clubs – Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United – were represented by players and management.

Carl Valeri (director), Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams and Rachel Lowe represented Victory, while Lysianne Proulx and Rebekah Stot were there for City.

John Aloisi and new Liberty A-League signing Grace Maher flew the Western flag.

“It really has been an extraordinary time for football in Australia and New Zealand,” Conroy said.

“The World Cup demonstrated beyond doubt that the round ball game is the most universally loved game throughout Victoria and Australia.

“Which other sport could have attracted a near sell-out crowd at AAMI Park on a work-day between Canada and Nigeria?

“The Matildas of course created so many memorable moments for all of us. The 4-0 result against Canada in a do-or-die game in front of a frenzied Melbourne crowd. And, of course, the penalty kick win against France with the A-Leagues’ own Cortnee Vine scoring that unforgettable goal.

“The A-Leagues and its clubs are truly proud to say that each and every member of Australia’s World Cup squad was a product of the A-Leagues. But we can’t rest on our laurels. It is now our job as administrators of the A-Leagues – both women’s and men’s leagues – to ensure we leverage this magnificent opportunity.

“The league has been working hard to ensure we transfer the energy of the World Cup into the Liberty A-League Women. Our clubs – including City, Victory and Western United here in Victoria – are central to our determination to take full advantage.

“This season will have another team join the league in Central Coast – that’s three new teams in the past three years.

“We will now have a full home and away fixture providing more professional football opportunities for talented young women.

“We will commence with a standalone round of women’s fixtures – some of which will be at big stadiums in order to attract big crowds.

“Melbourne Victory will commence its season on Sunday, 15 October at the Home of the Matildas in Bundoora – a five-star facility built with major investment by the Victorian Government.

“As well as Cortnee Vine at Sydney FC, there will be many other World Cup Matildas playing in the Liberty A-League Women.

“Lydia Williams at Melbourne Victory, Tameka Yallop at Brisbane and Kyah Simon at Central Coast among others.

“There will also be World Cup players from other nations such as Rebekah Stott and Hannah Wilkinson from New Zealand at Melbourne City, Jaclyn Sawicki from the Philippines at Western United; and Lysianne Proulx from Canada at Melbourne City.

“All three Melbourne teams made the finals last year including Western United making the grand final in their debut season. They will all be seeking to return to the finals this coming season with some big name recruits. I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to get along to a Liberty A-League game in Melbourne and see these stars up close.

“The Isuzu UTE A-League Men is set to be as competitive as ever. Melbourne City – laden with Socceroos stars – made the Grand Final falling to Central Coast at the final hurdle.

“Western United and Melbourne Victory just missed out on the finals last season and will be looking to return to the top half of the ladder.

“I want to acknowledge the extraordinary young talent we now have in the league. The past 12 months has seen a record level of transfer fees paid by European clubs to A-League clubs for our talented young players. This has followed sustained investment by the clubs in their academies and young talent.

“Melbourne City’s Jordan Bos is a great example. After growing up in Point Cook and playing junior football for Hoppers Crossing, he joined Melbourne City. He debuted for City as a 19-year old, was a Socceroo 15 months later and has now transferred to Europe. Jordan is just one example of the homegrown stars made in the A-Leagues.

“I acknowledge the work of our three Melbourne clubs in engaging with local football clubs around Victoria, investing in their academies and providing talented young players with the opportunities to play professionally.

“I would like to recognise the hundreds of thousands A-Leagues fans who make our games so special.

“Our players, our clubs, our leagues wouldn’t be the same without our fans and the terrific atmosphere they create.”