Now, says newly installed head coach Alen Stajcic, the time for talk is over at Central Coast Mariners.
Stajcic says he understands why there's cynicism about the Mariners' reboot after a barren six years.
Some believe the Mariners will again be A-League easy-beats, finishing outside the six as other clubs and the expansion sides forge ahead over the coming years.
“Definitely, I agree. If I was a neutral fan I’d be saying the same things,” he told FTBL when quizzed about the cynicism.
“But, the time for talk is over. And actions are the only things that count," he countered.
“And that goes for all of us, from board level to administrators to coaches to players.
“We know everyone can talk a good game but it’s up to us now to deliver on the pitch and give the fans some real hope.
“Talk is cheap," Stajcic declared,
But it’s tough if you’re rusted on to the Mariners because their loyal fanbase has heard it all before.
Mike Mulvey told the faithful to believe in mid-2018. That didn’t pan out and inside one season he left after an 8-2 loss earlier this year.
Before him, Paul Okon in 2017 assembled an eye-catching squad but parted ways with the club after a dispute over the club’s direction and a rumored lack of say in recruitment.
Prior to that, the Tony Walmsley era was underwhelming, to say the least in 2015.
The 2013 Championship era under Graham Arnold remains a distant memory, back when “Arnie” ran every part of the Mariners show to devastating effect.
With this in mind, newly installed coach Stajcic wants a complete change in all aspects of the club - on and off the park.
And he has a mandate with a three-year deal after taking over as caretaker with a handful of games left last season.
It appears he’ll have total control over recruitment after a 30-player NYL and NPL trial and a European scouting adventure.
Stajcic’s stamp on the next season will be revealed over the next month as players are signed and pre-season starts in late June.
Defender Ruon Tongyik - the highly rated former City and Roar player - is the first, announced today following the acquisition of Giancarlo Gallifuoco from Wanderers.
The Mariners are backing their new head coach - and not before time - today issuing a release explaining they are appointing a full-time strength and conditioning coach in Luca Tonetti, plus a video analyst ahead of next season’s campaign.
In a restructuring of the Mariners Academy, former club favorite Nick Montgomery moves to the position of Head of Performance Phase which sees him leading the U18s, the 20s and First Grade Men’s Academy sides for the remainder of the season.
It appears Stajcic as head coach will have the team and resources to make the Mariners competitive again.
How competitive remains to be seen but being hard to beat is always a good starting point.
Stajcic cannot complain about a timeframe either - that’s the one thing the A-League has in abundance: a desperately long 15-16 week pre-season.
“Pre-season will be incredibly important for us. To bed down all the important aspects on and off the field," he added.
“How we play, how we approach the match, the level of professionalism and the mentality we want to bring along with the tactics.
“Lots of different elements and with new players and turnover in players and staff it is exciting and also gives everyone a new lease of life.”
Stajcic is savvy enough to know the Mariners is not a one-season fix.
It may take a three or four transfer windows and some serious work behind the scenes to get them anywhere near to the current benchmark: Perth Glory and Sydney FC.
To go from wooden spoon to Finals football in one season isn’t impossible.
But with new boys Western United assembling a strong squad under ambitious coach Mark Rudan, Brisbane Roar taking shape under Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, Wanderers boosted by returning home to a redeveloped Wanderland and the Jets under Ernie Merrick showing great signs for the future, the pressure as always be on in Gosford to get out of the bottom five. Quick.
Stajcic is a driven individual, though. He has a winning track record and a strong mentality. He will drive the club forward.
And that’s what’s desperately needed for this regional club with its unique, boutique stadium facing the idyllic Brisbane Waters.
Stajcic added: “We do have a lot of work to do. But based on results toward the end of the season, we’re not that far away if we can hit the ground running.
“Hopefully we’ll move it forward with more stability and structure in place to have strong foundations in place for the team and club moving forward.”