After being appointed as Mariners Caretaker Coach on Tuesday morning, Stajcic fronted the media at the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence.
Let’s recap some of the key quotes from his first press conference as a Central Coast Mariner.
“It’s a great honour and pleasure to be here representing the Central Coast Mariners and being appointed as the A-League coach in the caretaker period,” Stajcic said. “It’s a really proud moment for me, a club with so much tradition, and history and success in the A-League and to come over and try and help them in this period for the next 7-8 weeks is going to be a real opportunity and a real challenge, and something that I’m obviously very excited about.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, as you know in football anything can happen but as I said I’m just very excited at this challenge. I went down and watched the boys train just then and there’s a real buzz about the group, a real lift and a real great aura around the group, and you can almost sense the desire to want to finish off the season in a really positive way.
“Central Coast is a fantastic club, a regional club and as I was saying to the boys just then, a healthy Central Coast almost means a healthy A-League. We really want the best for Australian football and we want the A-League to prosper and the Central Coast Mariners are an essential part of that. They’re a great guide to how successful, and a good yardstick of how our league is going. From that perspective, when Central Coast was really going well it was a good indicator that the league was healthy, it was strong and that clubs can survive even in a regional area. I know there are so many good people here that want to see the club return and give hope to the community here at the Central Coast.
“My job right now is to really provide some stability and harmony and give hope for the group as a collective and as individuals, and moving into next season to set a platform. It’s really about providing hope for the group and there’s 7000 members here who the club is representing and that’s a massive number for a regional area and every time we go out on the pitch we have to keep those fans in the back of our minds and know that they’re really at the front and centre of who we are representing when we go out to play.
“There is hope, there’s always hope. It’s actually a really good squad list and to think of how many matches they’ve been in, to think of the quality they’ve displayed in various moments in the game and the table isn’t always a reflection of how well they’ve played sometimes in matches – and when you go back and look and analyse performances and see how many matches they’ve been leading in, how many matches they’ve been the better team in – I can recall so many matches this year that I’ve watched as a fan and as a neutral where Central Coast were the better team. I remember playing against Sydney down at Jubilee and there was a red card after 25 minutes but Central Coast totally outplayed them for that period but then lost the moment and lost the match. I think that’s more the indicator – losing moments rather than not being a team that’s good enough to compete so for me there’s lots of hope, lots of ambition and lots of potential for this team to finish off in a good way.
“It’s really important to focus on the now and to try and get the now as solid as we can and provide a good foundation for the team and the club moving forward so I think that’s hard enough let alone worrying about what’s going to happen in 3 or 4 or 6 months’ time or even longer.
Alen Stajcic will lead the Mariners for the remainder of the @ALeague 2018/19 season. Welcome, Alen!
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) March 12, 2019
“I received the call from the CEO on Sunday and we had a few meetings that day and both parties seemed very interested from the outset, and it all happened very quickly after that. Very positive meetings, and was great to get a feel for the people who are here running the club, the enthusiasm and the passion they have for the club, and that really for me made it an easy choice.
“I think the biggest challenge is in any football team I think it’s the circumstance that the team is in and this team is in a hole at the moment, and been in a rut for a period of time and trying to get this team to believe in itself, to believe in its own ability, as I said for me there’s so much potential in this group and so much ability and we all know the games not played on paper, but there’s so much ability and quality on paper and that’s got to transfer to the pitch – and that’s what I’m looking forward to, trying to get that to transfer from potential to reality on the pitch and for me gender is not the important factor in that facet.
“I’ve got a good assessment of this team and I’ve been watching this team all year funnily enough. And Mike and I have been colleagues for a long time so I almost had an attachment to watching his team play, and I’ve seen what they can produce on the field, I know the personality of the players and can see what they’re trying to do the field and for me it’s about finding out what’s going to make every player tick in a short period of time and I think that’s our challenge, and it is for any coach in any club at any given time.
“All the same coaching staff will remain and Nahuel Arrarte will join us as an additional assistant coach. For me, when a new coach comes in, in a lot of respects there’s got to be a clean slate for the group and the club and to know that we can move forward in a positive way – always reflect on the past but we can’t live in the past so whatever has happened before is not really relevant to today and moving forward.
“We’ve all been through a fair bit recently, myself on an individual level and them so I can really relate to where they are mentally and it’s not easy. And when you’re knocked down on the floor you’ve only got two choices, stay on the floor and give up, or get up and fight. And again, I can see even in just the brief time I’ve seen the players and seen them at training and the way they came off the field, there’s a real aura and a positivity and vibe around the group that they want to do better. And we all know that they’re playing for pride, they’re playing for their season, they’re playing to give the fans hope – so there’s a lot of positives to draw out of coming to one training session and observing like I was today.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) March 10, 2019
“Everyone has got their own motivations but for me to drag any of my past into this scenario would be wrong. There’s a group and there’s a club here that really needs to focus on what it needs to deliver moving forward for the short term, there’s a big challenge here to try and pick the club up and really give the fans hope, give the players hope and really set a good foundation so for me to drag my baggage into this environment really wouldn’t be productive, I’ve got to clear my mind and I have cleared my mind coming in and I’ve been really, really, excited by meeting the players and meeting the staff and seeing the enthusiasm that they have. It is in the past and there’s a time that we all have to move forward, me and the club as well.
“For me the signs of success are the club having stability, and harmony and a platform to build on for next year, that’s really the key. Results may come or go but the platform needs to be built to be able to have a successful year next year and moving forward and looking forward and for me having a successful Central Coast is vital for the A-League
“For me it’s a great opportunity, as an individual and I’ve not coached in the A-League, I’ve not coached a men’s professional team before so for me it’s a great challenge. I’ve been coaching for 20 years so I’ve got a wealth of experience in coaching senior teams and international teams, but for me it’s a great opportunity and a fantastic challenge and that’s something that I thrive on. For me personally it’s a no brainer to really want to achieve something that I haven’t done before and take a group and a club that I really see a lot of potential and prospect in.
“There’s too much focus on the now and trying to talk to players and coaches and staff and see what we need to do and try to address as many things as we can in a short period of time to worry about myself, to be honest. There is a whole gamete of people here and relationships that has existed for a long time and I’ve got to plonk myself in here in the middle of their season and get the best out of everyone that we can and that’s enough of a challenge rather than worry about how I position myself or how people see me.
“To be leading 9 times at half time out of 21 matches isn’t a fluke. It’s not 3 matches, it’s not 2 matches – they’ve been leading at half time in 9 matches out of 21 and only losing 8 times. That means that there’s a capability and a capacity there to match any team in this league. And then when you see a number like that and it’s not reflected in the end time result it’s not related to ability, its related to other factors and they’re the factors we need to unlock in this team in the short term and as I said build a platform for next season moving forward.
“The club needs to provide the resources that it can. I’ve been super excited by what I’ve been shown here. It’s a fantastic facility, I’m sure most A-League clubs don’t have this. I know the Wanderers are building a new facility at the moment, so to have the resources here at hand, to have the staff here at hand, to have the people at hand, to have the energy that we have in the office is something everyone wants – and after that it’s up to the expertise of the staff and players to make the most out of that. That’s all you can ask as a coach – I’ve been here for one day – I haven’t asked for anything else at the moment. I’ve brought in Nahuel Arrarte and he’s a fantastic supporter of mine and someone who’s really aligned to my philosophy of playing so I’m sure there’s going to be challenges as we move ahead but at the moment I’m really excited at the opportunity and challenge that lays ahead.
“All the staff are staying. I’ve had 2 or 3 assistant coaches everywhere I’ve gone and it’s all about aligning that team. I had a chat to Monty this morning and within 2 or 3 minutes we were both aligned about the future for this team moving forward for the rest of this year, and that’s without having spoken before about team formations and tactics and players and things like that – we really hit it off in a short time. How that’s going to transpire after 2 or 3 months I don’t know, but for the short term we need alignment, we need unity and that’s not only as a staff but as a club and a collective as well,” Stajcic said.