Mariners' McGing will play it tough

Jake McGing is entitled to be more rattled than most, if not all, of his Mariners teammates by the struggles the club has endured this season, but he is talking tough going into the New Year's Eve showdown with Wellington Phoenix at Central Coast Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners

during the round 11 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Brisbane Roar at Central Coast Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Gosford, Australia. Source: Getty Images

Forget the fact he is a 21-year-old who only made his A-League debut this season and is a manufactured central defender, having been a midfielder before coach Tony Walmsley orchestrated the switch.

Don't worry about the elbow to the back of the head Sydney FC striker Matt Simon gave him in last weekend's game, either.

McGing sounds like a guy who knew this season wasn't going to be easy but is prepared to play through the hard times, and even enjoy them, in the search for the good times.

Asked if he was rattled by Central Coast's six straight losses, leaving the last-placed team way out of touch with the rest of the competition, McGing said: "Definitely not rattled. There's pressure on us, because of the losses that we've had, but we've just got to go out and play our game,"

"I believe in what we're trying to do. All the boys are sticking by it. Everyone's under pressure to some degree in a football team, no matter how well you're going. There's always pressure in football, whether you're winning or losing, so there are no extras there."

Critics say the attacking playing style Walmsley favours this season puts too much pressure on McGing and his partner in the central defence, Harry Ascroft, who, at 20, is also very inexperienced. Turnovers, with so many players forward, means the heat is right on in transition.

But McGing said he had no problem with the team's approach.

"It's a learning curve for me," he said. "It's my first season as a professional and I'm enjoying it a lot now. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing, I guess, and hopefully we get results.

"You can look at it two ways, but the way I see it everyone here wants to play exactly the way the gaffer wants to play, so I'm just going to keep doing whatever he says and go from there.

"I feel pressure here and there, in games, but you're obviously going to get pressure situations in any game, no matter who you are. Our philosophy on football means we're going to attack a lot more, so that leaves us a bit exposed at the back, but I don't mind the challenge.

"I'm still quite confident and I'm still enjoying my football here, despite the losses, so there's no issue there really."

Simon, who was still at Central Coast last season, when McGing was in the youth team there, got a one-match suspension after being cited for his elbow on McGing. The incident happened straight after Sydney defended a corner for which McGing had gone forward. 

McGing shrugged it off as another part of the learning process for a young player, saying there are "two" Matt Simons.

"He's a different player on the field to off it," McGing said.

"He's a competitor and he can get a bit angry. Someone pushed me in the back and I went down, so I guess he was thinking I'd taken a dive or something.

"I'm used to some pushing and shoving and a bit of stuff being said up the other end, as a defender on corners and free kicks. It's part and parcel of the game."

Central Coast's 1-1 draw at home against Wellington in round five was close to their best performance this season and McGing said the players would draw on that as a positive going into Thursday night's match.

"We'll have good memories of that game in the back of our minds and if we go about things the right way the result should take care of itself," he said.

"We're going out there with a plan to win the game.

"We're sticking solid in our belief that the process is right and that it will work for us in the long run."

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4 min read
Published 30 December 2015 at 8:50pm
By Greg Prichard