Mark Jackson: Mindset, motivation and more ahead of Grand Final

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson spoke to the media on Friday, in his official pre-match Grand Final press conference.

Jackson has already made history in his first season with the Mariners, guiding the club to unprecedented success whilst achieving a number of personal accolades and records such as the highest win percentage from a manager in Mariners history.

He and the team can go one step further on Saturday though, and achieve A-League immortality by becoming the first ever A-League team to win a domestic/continental treble.

Despite the undeniable momentousness of Saturday’s game, Jackson says he has tried to keep this week as normal as possible for his players and the team are used to not shying away from big occasions:

“We’ve tried to keep it pretty normal. There’s been a few more media commitments for the players, they’ve earned the right to that. It’s great to see the support around, from the local community in particular.” Jackson said.

It’s been a pretty much normal week for us, we’ve worked hard and we feel ready for the game.

Mark Jackson on Grand Final preparations.

“We try to say that ‘it’s just another game’, but we know it’s a special game and we know it’s a big game. We’ve had the mindset of not hiding away from these big games during the season,” he said.

“We’ve had big games over the last four weeks and we’ve dealt superbly well with him, so we’re going to enjoy the occasion for sure but we’ve been really, really focused this week.”

We know we’ve done the work during the season, it’s got us to this moment and we’re going to trust that work to take us into this game.

The Mariners and Melbourne Victory played out three closely-fought games in the A-League regular season (2-2 at Our Paradise, 1-1 at Unite Round, 0-1 Mariners at AAMI Park) and Jackson expects another ‘very difficult’ game on Saturday.

“We know it will be very difficult. We’ve looked at ways to play against them, we’re very confident that we can use our system against them effectively.” Jackson said.

The Mariners have kept the most clean sheets (13) and boast the joint least goals conceded (1 per 90) in the Isuzu UTE A-League this season, but Tony Popovic’s team are not far behind in those and many other defensive metrics, Jackson says the team have worked on how to break them down.

“We’ve worked on some things to to break them down and we know where we can improve from the last game. We were outstanding defensively against Sydney and we just need to probably take that forward a little bit and try and create more chances, we’ve got a plan to do that.” Jackson said.

The Mariners may come into this game as the Championship holders but six of the starting players from last year’s Grand Final demolition of Melbourne City, have since departed the club, so Jackson hardly has the option to say ‘go out and do what you did last season’, he believes every game is different and cited two huge games that the Mariners have overcome, with different approaches.

“Every game is different, approaching the occasion in the same way with the same focus I think you can do that but every game is different. We’ve had a lot of big games over recent weeks and each of the games [have been different].” Jackson said.

“The game here against Adelaide, we had to approach it a certain way, then the game in Oman for the AFC Cup Final, we had to approach it a different way. There’s similarities between the occasion and the build up but the game is completely different.”

Jackson gave some detail on his personal matchday approach, which includes limiting his interactions with the players due to his belief in the work done through the week.

“I try to limit my interactions with the players. The coaches are out there working on the pitch with the boys, warming them up. The players know what they need, we get to match day and our work is done, we’ve done that throughout the week.” Jackson explained.

“It’s about little reminders in the pre-match meeting. We did some motivational stuff today, we did some in the last game. Things change from time to time, I’m adaptable with what I do but when it comes to matchday, the work is already done and if the boys don’t know what they’re doing by then, then there’s something wrong! But this set of players are really receptive to what we’ve been doing. We’ve been doing it all season, they know it inside out.”

Without giving too much away, Jackson touched on the motivational side of the team’s preparation.

“Before the Sydney game, we had some messages from family. We’ve done a little bit today with the team, without giving too much away. All it is, is drawing on our achievements this year.” Jackson said.

“It’s not just winning the Premier or the AFC Cup, our achievements are much deeper than that. We know what we’ve been through and what we go through every day. We know the sacrifices players make and staff make to make things happen. We celebrate that, we understand what team we are and the chat we had before training today typifies what team we are, who we want to be and where we want to grow.”

Watch the full press conference with Jacko and Danny Vukovic via