Sackings, backings and cracking the sh**s. The revolving door of A-League coaches may know no bounds, but FourFourTwo attempts to separate the deserving from the deserters.
13. Wayne O’Sullivan
Including caretakers in this list is an almost impossible task. There’s an old adage that no coach should be judged on their first four games, so at exactly that mark, O’Sullivan’s season should be taken with a grain of salt.
The former Central Coast Mariners’ Academy Director had a nearly-impossible task himself and shipping eight goals in a local derby reminds Mariners fans just how big a challenge Mike Mulvey faces.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that under his reign O’Sullivan’s own academy products – including bright sparks Trent Buhagiar and Lachy Wales - accounted for six members of the senior team, a fact he can be proud of.
12. Darije Kalezic
While there are bright spots for Sully, Kalezic is a much easier target. He led Wellington Phoenix to a dismal four wins, five draws and 12 losses in 21 matches, leaving the Nix sitting dead-last upon his sudden exit.
A surly character on the touchline who never appeared to inspire nor demand much from his players, Kalezic was a dispiriting appointment for the hugely-troubled club. After picking up seven out of a possible 42 points to begin his A-League career, a brief upturn in performances in January – partnered with key signings – had some pundits pointing at a Nix resurgence. But it barely lasted.
Ultimately, Kalezic never got going across the ditch and by the end he was eyeing the quickest escape route.
11. Paul Okon
Paulo shouldered a burden of expectation heading into this season that in hindsight, the Mariners were never equipped to deliver. Central Coast are the perennial A-League underdogs, a sobriquet which has often distracted from the miserly resources at their disposal.
At times, Okon seemed to be the perfect man to lead the club. A relentless possession-based philosophy aimed for the stars – he wanted his side to be greater than the sum of its parts. When the Mariners beat Sydney FC 2-0 in November, it started a run of wins against Wellington and Perth that seemed to show Okon’s ethos coming to fruition.
But confidence can be a tricky beast in football, especially when you don’t have an out-and-out striker. The only other time Central Coast secured successive wins under Okon’s reign, they lost five of their next six matches.
After Perth, the Mariners only won one more match under the Socceroos legend.