The plight of the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League this season has been painful for fans to endure.
For former players, it’s been even more frustrating to see.
Adam Kwasnik scored 20 goals in 74 appearances for the Mariners during a five-year spell while he also spent time as an academy coach at the club.
He has since gone on to be involved with a specialised football school and his coaching work led him to Dubbo this week to run a two-day school holiday clinic for junior players.
While in town he spoke about the Mariners, whose 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Newcastle Jets on the weekend condemned them to the wooden spoon.
“I was optimistic this season with the coach (Paul Okon) and the players he brought in. I thought there was really good players there and they could push for finals,” Kwasnik told the Daily Liberal.
“It didn’t turn out that way. I thought they performed well at times but performances didn’t result in wins and once that started happening confidence lacked and they finished with the wooden, which really hurts the fans and the ex-players like myself who are still very passionate about the club.
“There’s so much that needs to be done and they’re slowly heading in the right direction but the other clubs are leaps and bounds ahead of the Central Coast Mariners.”
Kwasnik is the latest of many to say new coach Mike Mulvey, who replaced Okon last week, has a huge amount of work to do during the off-season with under-performing players needing to be motivated or moved on, while fresh blood is needed in the squad.
Getting in a marquee player is easier said that done though as the matter of finances and a lack of investment was something Okon battled with during his time at the helm.
“Financially, it’s a range of things,” Kwasnik said when discussing what needs to change.
“Fans just want to see good performances which result in wins and draws and picking up points.”
Community engagement is something Mulvey pushed when he was unveiled as coach but Kwasnik said the focus needs to be on winning games as that is the best way to get fans through the gates.
“The community just wants to see the team win,” he said.
Someone who knows all about turning a club around is former Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna.
McKinna was the inaugural head coach at the Mariners and led them to the grand final in 2005 but these days he is the chief executive at the Newcastle Jets.
The Jets finished with the wooden spoon twice in three seasons in recent times while it was only 2014 when Football Federation Australia terminated the club’s licence after it failed to settle debts owed.
But new investment and McKinna’s leadership has seen the Jets thrive and while Sydney FC is the hot favourite for the title the Jets currently sit second and have gained a huge amount of admirers this season.
“He (McKinna) has gone up there and brought in an experienced, championship winning coach in Ernie Merrick and not only on the field but off it they’ve done really well and set an example for some of the other clubs in the A-League,” Kwasnik said.
Kwasnik added the Jets have plenty of goals in them but said Sydney FC is the benchmark, leading him to predict back-to-back titles for the Sky Blues.