Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic appeared to make a pitch for young goalscorer Ramy Najjarine who helped annihilate the Mariners 5-0 at AAMI Park last night.
Stajcic should learn in the next few days whether he’s done enough to secure the gig full time after watching the back-to-back wooden spooners save one of their worst performances for the final round of the regular season.
But with his mind already turning to a roster overhaul he couldn’t hide his admiration for Western Sydney product Najjarine, 19, who came on in the 73rd minute to heap more humiliation on the visitors.
Speaking post-match Stajcic said: “Ramy, for example, he’s a Westfield Sports High kid.
“There’s hundreds of those kids going around in the Joeys and Young Socceroos and as Australian football fans we want to see them all get an opportunity.
“Ramy, he’s sort of been a substitute player here for the last three or four games and come on and done well.
"He’s certainly the kind of player who needs to get a run and develop and foster his ability. There are clubs like ours that will certainly be giving kids like that an opportunity next year.”
Stajcic admitted the arrival of Western Sydney Wanderers had dried up the opportunities for the Mariners to develop youngsters discarded by Sydney FC.
Instead the Central Coast outfit - once the launch pad for string of A-league and Socceroos stars including Mat Ryan, Tom Rogic, Mustafa Amini and Bernie Ibini - were thoroughly dismantled by City’s kids.
A brilliant brace to young Englishman Shayon Harrison (35’, 55’) and goals to Man of the Match Riley McGree (42’), Dario Vidosic (50’) and Najjarine (90+2’) did the damage against a Mariners outfit that offered little in attack.
Stajcic, who had appeared to stop the rot since arriving in Round 22 with two wins in the previous five games, pointed to the team’s mentality, a re-jigged defence and lack of depth for the score line blowout.
“When we went behind (the mentality) dropped significantly and for me that’s the starting point for a football team,” he said. “We certainly have to improve that aspect if we want to be competitive moving forward as club.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the last round, the first round, the Grand Final or a friendly match the mentality of a sports team and a football teams has to be at its peak all the time.
"I think it was probably quite clear that it wasn’t at its peak (last night). Melbourne City were good in patches and had some world class goals but I thought we were probably a little bit disjointed in our back four without Kye Rowles(suspended) there and shuffling a few players around.
“Looking at the line up in the team it was probably an example of the depth that we have to cover missing someone like Kye. I think it was really exposed a bit in that back four and having to move people around a bit in a few positions.”