Alen Stajcic has addressed the media for the first time since being appointed as Central Coast Mariners’ caretaker coach on Tuesday morning, and he insists there is “hope, and a desire to finish the season off in a positive way” as he challenged his players to show their fighting spirit.
Mariners parted company with previous coach Mike Mulvey on Sunday morning, and are still dealing with the repercussions from Saturday’s stinging 8-2 defeat by Wellington Phoenix.
But Stajcic says he is looking for his players to move on and show the stomach for a scrap over the remaining six rounds of the regular season.
“When you’re knocked down on the floor you’ve only got two choices: stay down on the floor or get up and fight,” the former Westfield Matildas head coach said.
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“I’ve been down to watch the boys train and there was a real buzz about the group. You could almost sense a desire to finish the season off in a really positive way.
“They’re playing for pride, they’re playing for their season, they’re playing to give the fans hope.
“It’s a great honour and pleasure to be here representing Central Coast Mariners. It’s a really proud moment for me at a club with so much tradition and success in the A-League.
“To come and help them for this period is a real opportunity and a real challenge.”
The Stajcic era kicks off with the small matter of an F3 Derby away at Newcastle Jets this weekend, and it does not get any easier for the team eight points adrift at the foot of the ladder, with home fixtures against Adelaide United and Perth Glory to follow after the international break.
“There’s always hope,” insists Stajcic. “It’s a really good squad list. To think of how many matches they’ve been in, the quality they’ve displayed in various moments… the table isn’t always a reflection of how well they’ve played sometimes.
“This team is in a hole at the moment. It’s been in a rut for a period of time. It’s about trying to get this team to believe in itself, believe in its own ability.
“There’s so much ability and quality on paper – now it’s got to transfer onto the pitch.”