Montgomery believes if Mariners 'buy in' they can be competitive

Central Coast Mariners captain Nick Montgomery said new coach Paul Okon wanted to change the team's playing style and that the players must "buy in" for the club to be able to move on from the horrors of last season.

Nick Montgomery

Mariners captain Nick Montgomery is looking forward to the upcoming A-League season Source: Getty Images

"He's younger than coaches we've previously had and he wants to play passing football and possession football, so he's got his own ideas and I'm sure he's taken some of that from the good managers he has played under himself," Montgomery told The World Game.

Central Coast dropped alarmingly last season, finishing a distant last in the 10-team competition with just 13 points, including three wins, four draws and 20 losses. They scored a measly 33 goals in their 27 games and conceded a massive 70.

But the Mariners have managed to recruit more experience into what was a side carrying a lot of inexperienced young players, with Connor Pain, Mickael Tavares, Jacques Faty, Blake Powell and Ivan Necevski all coming on-board.

Montgomery said under the circumstances, Central Coast could not afford to play to anything less than their full potential this season.

"There's obviously a massive gap in terms of the financials between your Melbourne City's, Melbourne Victory's and Sydney FC's compared to the Mariners," he said.

"We've had to cut right back as a club in the last couple of years, which makes it more difficult, but that just means the squad you're working with has really got to get everyone buying in to what you're doing and working hard for each other and working hard for the team.

"Because it's not just those other teams, you're going to come up against teams like Wellington as well - you can throw them into the mix because they're spending a lot of money in that front third.

"All those teams have marquee players on good money and playing in that final third, which is why they're scoring goals, so it does make it difficult. But Paul has come in knowing that it's a challenge.

"He knows how he wants us to play and we know that if we can adjust to this style of football quickly there's no doubt we can compete - and hopefully compete well against these teams that have got all the money.

"We've trained hard in the last few weeks, since Paul came. We've done a lot of sessions and we're getting the benefit of that and I believe we can push on from here.

"I'm not saying we expect to go on and win the league this season, but we've definitely got to improve on last season and I'm confident that under Paul and with this style of football, that's possible.

"The minimum expectation is to make that top six and I'm confident that if we can adjust to the new playing style, and defensively be a lot better than we were last season, then there's every chance we can make that top six.

"And from there, anything's possible."

The Mariners were looking to step up their preparation for the new season in a trial game against Wellington Phoenix at Knox Grammar School in Sydney on Saturday.

"It's disappointing we didn't get the chance to put things into practice last week," Montgomery said.

"We flew to Brisbane to play our first proper game under the new coach and the game was cancelled due to flash flooding, so it was rather frustrating.

"Last season was tough. We had a lot of kids who had not really had any experience in professional football and that wasn't ideal in a tough league like the A-league.

"There's no way we can have another season like last year and lose as many games as we did, but we've got a number of new recruits who have all got experience in the A-League and that's important.

"They've all settled in really well and are enjoying life on the coast and enjoying the Mariners as a club, because it's a great set-up here and even though it's small it has had a lot of success in the past.

"There's an opportunity for any player to come in here and get regular football that they maybe didn't get at the big clubs and we're looking forward to our new players being really good for us."

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4 min read
Published 17 September 2016 at 1:01pm
By Greg Prichard