A fourth wooden spoon in six seasons is looming for A-League battlers Central Coast but coach Alen Stajcic is convinced they have turned the corner.
Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic is convinced he has steadied a sinking ship with the battling A-League club now destined for smoother waters.
Prior to the suspension of the competition in late March, the Mariners were on course to collect a third wooden spoon in four seasons after losing 10 matches in a row.
But prior to that slump there had been distinct signs of a revival for the Gosford-based club, which has struggled to draw crowds or have the same financial resources as some rivals in more populated centres.
They had already picked up as many points (13) as they did all of last season, collected more wins (four as opposed to three) and reached the semi-finals of the FFA Cup, a competition in which they lost their first match in the four previous seasons.
Over the past five campaigns since they last made the finals, the Mariners have finished last three times and eighth twice.
At the time the league was suspended deu to coronavirus, former Matildas coach Stajcic had been in charge for just more than a year after initially succeeding the sacked Mike Mulvey on an interim basis.
"I thoroughly enjoyed the year, the challenge was immense," Stajcic told AAP.
"After a year, we may be in the same position, but I think there's a lot more belief and a lot more positivity around the club at this point.
"For me it's just the starting point, I think we've righted the ship I don't think it's sinking anymore.
"When I look back I see seven wins, if you count the FFA Cup and the league, and that's more than the club has had for four or five years.
"You've got to appreciate how hard it was to achieve that level of competitiveness because of where the team has been and it hasn't been down for a year, it has been down for five or six years.
"This year was really the heavy-lifting from the team, from the staff and the players."
Stajcic admitted the Mariners were in a rut during the losing streak prior to the competition hiatus.
"That was the difficult part, we couldn't seem to get ourselves out of it, the team was still showing lots of good signs of competitiveness and fight," he said.
The shutdown of the league produced one personal positive for Stajcic, who after accepting the job moved to the Central Coast while his family stayed in Sydney.
'"Being able to reconnect back with the family and be home and to be around my kids every day and get to spend some real time with them day in day out, that's been probably the biggest positive, for me," he said