“We dug deep and it’s got us to a Grand Final” Jacko post-Sydney

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson was once again proud of his sides’ courage and defending as they booked their place in next Saturday’s Grand Final, which will be played at Our Paradise for the first time.

Sydney came out firing with Danny Vukovic called upon early on, whilst in the second half the Mariners goal held firm under sky blue pressure, with a little thanks to a VAR check.

“I didn’t expect anything less from Sydney. As I’ve said before, I respect them as a team, they’ve got some excellent players.” Jackson said.

“We knew they were going to come for us and we showed tremendous courage. We didn’t play as much as we wanted to but we showed courage without the ball to defend, dig in and keep the ball out of our goal.”

“It was a semi-final. I said before the game, I would have expected 22 players on the pitch going at it and that’s what it was. They had the majority of the play and we didn’t play our normal game with the ball but that’s credit to them.” Jacko said.

We dug deep, we defended extremely well and it’s got us to a Grand Final.

– Mark Jackson after goalless second-leg.

There was a number of controversial moments in the game where referee Alireza Faghani was in the spotlight, with both sides feeling aggrieved at certain points, no more so than when Mariners Assistant Coach Danny Schofield was shown a red card early in the second half.

Jacko believes referees have a difficult job due to the emotion of games and crowds, and said he won’t have anything to say to Danny other than ‘thank you’.

“Referees have a difficult job. It’s an emotional game, it’s a big game, big crowd. Things happen, that’s football.” Jackson said.

“What am I going to say to Danny? Thanks for being by my side, on this journey. I thank him every day. He’s a massive part of what we do. He’s an extremely talented coach, he understands the game and what we want to do. I’m privileged to have him by my side.”

In his first year in charge, Jackson has broken numerous records at the club and he added one more to the list on Sunday, guiding the club to a second consecutive Grand Final for the first time in our history.

He believes this season’s success so far is a whole club effort and described the Mariners as ‘a special place to be’.

“The squad are a part of it, the players are of course – they’re out on the pitch, but it’s about the club. It’s a special place to be, everybody working together and singing from the same hymn sheet in regards to what we want to do and achieve. It’s a special place to be.

“The fans, to get a sell out crowd and get behind the team in rainy, cold conditions. I’m so proud of the club, we’ve managed to secure a Grand Final at our home stadium for the first time so I’m really, really proud.”

Jacko says the team will stick to the usual processes and ‘rhythm’ that has served them well throughout the season, ahead of the biggest game of the season on Saturday.

He says the increased media attention is only a good thing and is all part of the players’ education if they are to go onto bigger things across the world.

“We’re going to stick to the process. We’ve got fantastic staff and we’ll have other commitments like media and stuff like that and rightly so, but that won’t take away from our focus. We’ve got into a really good rhythm of how we work now and we’ll do that.” Jackson said.

“We’ll do all the interviews and what we need to do, spread that out through the players because that’s part and parcel of football when you’re successful. If these players want to go onto bigger things across the world in their careers then they’re going to have to deal with the media and responsibilities. In some respects, that’s part of their learning as well.”

When asked what it is about this playing group, that has seen them so far prevail throughout a testing schedule and a number of other challenges, Jacko said:

“Strong mentality. Massive. The boys have got talent, fitness and we have to keep on top of that but the mentality and mindset is massive. Football is played in the mind, the psychological elements of the game are massive and we’ve dealt with some big occasions of late and the players dealt with the big occasion tonight.”

It’s the mindset of the group at the minute. The players, the staff, the club have the mindset to all work in the same direction which is important to me.

Mark Jackson on what has made us successful this season.

Jackson was asked about the Mariners Grand Final opponents Melbourne Victory and how preparation will look. He said Schofield was already in the dressing room planning analysis and sessions for the week ahead, this just minutes after the full time whistle had blown.

Schofield will obviously be a miss for Jackson next weekend but he believes it is just another ‘obstacle’ that the Mariners will overcome.

“The work is being carried out now. We’ll pull all that together and start feeding it into the players on Monday. They’re another good team with a really good manager, we’ve had some good battles with them this year and I fully expect another tough battle.” Jackson said.

“It’s a new thing for us, it’s happened but we’ll deal with it. It’s another obstacle, we’ve dealt with a lot of them this season, which we’ll come up with another solution for.”

Finally, Jackson described the achievement of bringing a Grand Final to Gosford as ‘amazing’ and said how pleased he was for the supporters and community.

“It’s amazing for the community and the club we are. Two seasons in a row plus the Premier and AFC Cup, it’s a phenomenal achievement from everybody,” he said.

“I’m really pleased for the supporters, the support we get from them is massive and that’s why we spend so long after games, going round and thanking them. It’s really important that they feel that from us because we feel their support every game.”

Watch Jacko’s full presser here, via aleagues.com.au. Plus, immediate post-match reaction from Brian Kaltak, Danny Vukovic, Jacob Farrell, Alou Kuol, Josh Nisbet and Storm Roux!