Central Coast Mariners boss Mike Mulvey felt an emphasis on defensive work during the week robbed his side of their attacking instincts in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.
The rock-bottom Mariners lacked punch at Spotless Stadium and were beaten by a Wanderers side who had not tasted victory in more than two months.
REPORT: Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Central Coast Mariners 0
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Tarek Elrich and Jaushua Sotirio got the goals and Mulvey took the blame for the ineffective display, believing a series of training sessions in the aftermath of last week’s 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory set the tone for a defensive-minded performance.
“We don’t have excuses, we just need to turn up. And we didn’t turn up today, as I know that we can,” he told reporters.
“We didn’t really have a creative threat in the front third in the first half.
“And then when we did get a creative threat when we got Tommy [Oar] on there, we didn’t have people in the box that could finish.
“I take full responsibility for everything. As a coach, you have to.
“After being two nil up last week (and losing), we looked at how we are going to play if we have got a lead. Do we need to change something?
“So we looked at that and we tended towards that throughout the whole week. And I’m just questioning whether that might have been a mistake.
“I don’t think Connor [Pain] has been as deep as he actually was today, ever. So maybe I confused the situation.”
Mulvey said the Mariners needed to “go back to the drawing board”, but was insistent that in recent weeks his side had been “very, very good”.
Babbel left feeling 'proud'
His opposite number, Markus Babbel, was glowing with pride and hopes the victory can restore some of the confidence that has been missing in his players.
“Very happy and very proud … it was a very difficult game,” he said.
“You could see it in the week. Many talks we did with the team and you could see that the confidence is not there and their heads were down.
“But every single day we came in in a better shape and I’m very proud.
“I’m not saying this because we won it, because it was a very, very difficult game for the boys and they did many things right, especially defensive wise.
“We stayed very strong in the back, Central Coast had not many chances and we created a couple of good chances. This time we scored and I’m very happy for the boys.”