THe coach of the Central Coast Mariners, who have not won a competitive match this year, says it’s time to shake up the playing group as they head towards a rapid exit from the Asian Champions League and prepare for the next A-League season.
The Mariners have long held stability and loyalty in the highest regard, and their conservative ethos has served them well, yielding two grand final appearances in four years.
However, their failure to take the next step domestically and their inability to make an impression in Asia have led to questions being asked by the club hierarchy about the changes required to produce success.
Mariners’ executive chairman Lyall Gorman said last week it was time to "refresh" the squad, and although some may find it a surprise, coach Lawrie McKinna agrees the time has come.
"We’ve had a very stable squad since year one but it’s now time to bring in some new faces," McKinna told the Herald yesterday. "I’ve always thought stability was important in our success, and still do, but there comes a time when we have to look at if we can bring in better players.
"We’re on the hunt for players from both here and from overseas who can improve the squad. We need to find a balance between new and existing players."
McKinna said the club had lost a number of experienced players whom they failed to replace at the end of last season.
"It’s always good to have young players coming through, and we’ve done that, but from that grand final side we’ve lost Tony Vidmar, John Aloisi and Tom Pondeljak," he said. "That’s a lot of experience right down the middle of the park that we’ve had to cover. Those three players had a lot of maturity gave fantastic leadership to the dressing room.
"We’ve already started looking for some players to help fill in, although there’s not much available elsewhere in the A-League. We’ll probably look at the lower leagues in England and see if there’s any interest."
While the Mariners squad is set to be cut down after the ACL, McKinna might also lose Danny Vukovic, Matt Simon and Dean Heffernan – all fringe Socceroos .
Meanwhile, Sydney FC yesterday announced its new board, with Prime Television owner Paul Ramsay as chairman and Scott Barlow, who will "represent the interests" of co-owner David Traktovenko, as vice-chairman.