Nick Montgomery says he won’t be changing the A-League style of play that worked for Central Coast Mariners last season but is hoping to make their attack more potent.
The Mariners were the A-League’s surprise packet in 2020-2021, finishing third and leading the competition for several stages.
The NSW club’s success was built around a strong,miserly defence under coach Alen Stajcic, but they scored only 35 goals, which was the fifth-lowest in the competition.
Montgomery, who has replaced Stajcic on the Coast, wants to continue the progress made under his predecessor but also make the Mariners more ruthless up front.
“I worked with Staj, he’s a good coach and he was disciplined and organised,” the Englishman told FTBL.
“That’s part of the way I coach as well. What I did try and do was bring in some more attacking players. One thing we did lack last season as scoring goals. We were one of the lowest scorers in the league.
“But that shows if you’re strong at the back then you’ve got an opportunity to finish in a strong position in the league. But I’m my own person, I’ve got my own beliefs and we’ll build on the good stuff from last year, there’s no doubt about that.
“You don’t throw away all the good work that was done. But, again, let’s be honest – Alou Koul surprised everybody. I brought him in from Melbourne, he was nobody.
"He only started four games and halfway through the season he was top-scorer in the A-League.
"We have to find the next Alou Koul – that’s my remit.
“Fortunately, I’ve got some very good players. I’ve managed to bring in some very experienced players like Nikolai Muller to add to Cy Goddard and Benny who have come from France and the UK.
“Again, you don’t live in the past. Last season was last season, this season is this season and we’ll go out every week and give a good account of ourselves.”
Montgomery has been living in Australia since 2012 when he left Sheffield United to play for the Mariners.
After retiring in 2018 he has worked as a coach at the club, firstly in the youth team and academy ranks, before assisting the first-team and now as head coach.
The Englishman has seen the A-League ebb and flow in terms of popularity, but now believes the competition has a great chance to build and grow in the years ahead.
“It’s been a real up and down couple of seasons,” he admitted.
“I’ve been out here eight years, the A-League really started to climb at one point and then it had this big dip. I think what’s happened with the owners taking over, it was just bad timing with Covid hitting.
“Obviously, everyone’s businesses all over the world have been affected, and that’s no different to football clubs all over the world. Last year everyone tightened the ship to get through the pandemic.
“We’re still not out of it and that’s why the owners taking over the league now gives them an opportunity to really build the new brand. Football is the biggest participated sport in this country so it shows how big it is.
“Traditionally it’s not the biggest sport in the country but it’s got a real opportunity to grow now with the TV deal, with Paramount and new sponsors coming on board.
“But things don’t happen overnight. It’s going to be a process. Hopefully over the next couple of years we see the uplift in football in Australia.”