Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold is going to change his team formation in a bid to put more pressure on at the scoring end of the field in Sunday’s game against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
“I’ll probably go with two strikers,” Arnold told The World Game. “Just to make more of the chances we’re creating. It will give a player like Tommy Rogic more options to look at when he’s coming out of the middle.”
Arnold said he was happy with the way Central Coast was playing overall, but with just two goals to show from the first three rounds, the team needs to increase the numbers up front to try to get more out of its attack.
Central Coast has been going with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but now Arnold is set to revert to 4-4-2 and try to work Heart over through the middle third of the field.
“I’m seriously considering going back to the diamond,” Arnold said. “It’s a system that has served us well in the past. We have lost a few players who thrived in that formation, but I’m looking at going back to it because we’ve got to make sure we play a structure that is going to get us results.
“It’s hard when you work within the salary cap. We don’t have the option of fielding marquee players. But we’re getting the ball forward well enough – what we have to do now is take better advantage of that.”
Arnold named a 21-man squad for this match, from which six players will have to be omitted. Striker Adam Kwasnik was included in the squad, but Arnold indicated he was unlikely to make the cut because he was still getting his condition back playing in the youth league after an injury.
“He’s not match fit yet,” Arnold said. “I’m looking at picking the two up front from Michael McGlinchey, Mile Sterjovski, Daniel McBreen, Bernie Ibini and Mitchell Duke. But at least four of those players will be in the side somewhere.
“We’ve got plenty of options up front – it’s a matter of getting the right combinations.”
Arnold wasn’t surprised when leading referee Ben Williams was axed for this weekend’s round after his performance in Central Coast’s 2-1 loss to Newcastle Jets last weekend.
The Mariners players were unhappy with a number of decisions Williams made, and referees’ boss Ben Wilson conceded to the club that several wrong calls that were important had gone against them.
“Ben Wilson told me the referees were fitter than they have ever been and that they would be made accountable for major errors,” Arnold said.
But the coach hasn’t dwelled on what happened against the Jets because it would be a waste of time when he has to prepare his team for a new encounter against Melbourne Heart, which, like Central Coast, has got a win, a draw and a loss from the first three rounds.
“We did a lot of work on our tackling technique because we were told by the referees in the pre-season that players would pay for reckless challenges,” Arnold said. “That didn’t happen against the Jets, but I was over it by Monday.
“It would be a waste of energy to keep going on about it. I analysed the game against the Jets and even though we lost I was very happy with the performance. You judge a game by the performance, not the result, and we put in a good performance.
“I think everyone who watched that game thought we were the better team, so it’s a matter of just changing things a little to put us in a better position to capitalise on opportunities. That’s what we’ve been working on during the week at training.”