The Mariners’ made signing the 2013-14 championship-winning coach their top priority and The World Game understands that he turned down far more lucrative offers from several clubs in Thailand, where he previously coached with BEC Tero Sasana.
Although the Gosford-based club spoke to other candidates, including former England defender Stuart Pearce, ex-West Ham boss Glenn Roeder and former India under-17 coach Arthur Papas, Mulvey’s exceptional A-League record made him the standout contender.
It is thought that Mulvey’s appointment is now only dependent on the two parties agreeing personal terms and contract length, although that is expected to be a formality.
Mulvey rescued Brisbane’s season in early 2012-13 after a disastrous spell under Rado Vidosic. Mulvey drove the side to the finals, before overseeing one of the A-League’s great coaching performances the next season – claiming the Premiers' Plate three rounds before the end of the season and winning a memorable grand final 2-1 against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Previously, The 55-year-old Mancunian won plaudits for the way he led Gold Coast United’s youth team and for taking an under-performing Melbourne Victory W-League team to the top of the table before moving to Brisbane.
However, the Mariners very nearly missed their man, with Mulvey a wanted figure in Thailand – where he was voted coach of the All-Star XI in 2017 – and in Malaysia.
It will be a massive challenge for Mulvey to lift the Mariners out of the doldrums, having failed to qualify for to the finals in every year after 2014. The club has been virtually noncompetitive since the departure of Graham Arnold in November 2013.
They finished eighth in 2014-15 under Phil Moss, tenth under Tony Walmsley 2015-16, eighth under Paul Okon in 2016-17 and currently sit ninth this year, two points ahead of last-placed Wellington Phoenix.
The Mariners will again be operating on the strictest budget in the league next year (and probably without a marquee) but it is Mulvey’s record of developing youth and getting results on a tight budget that will be most appealing for a club that desperately needs to find their way back up the table.