The Central Coast Mariners have confirmed coach Alen Stajcic has quit the A-League club.
Just days after leading the Mariners to their first finals appearance in seven years, Stajcic and assistant Nahuel Arrarte stepped down, following reports of their departure on Wednesday.
Stajcic has been hailed as one of the competition's coaches of the year after guiding the Mariners to third on the table following three-straight wooden spoons.
"After a long period of discussions and reflections I have decided that I want a new challenge and to go in a new direction in my coaching journey," Stajcic said in a statement.
"I came to the club in 2019 when it had just one win in 22 matches and when I was also at a crossroads in my career.
"I came here with enormous goodwill and today I leave with a lifetime of bonds, friendships and memories.
"I would like to express my enormous gratitude to (chief executive) Shaun (Mielekamp) and (owner) Mike (Charlesworth) for giving me the opportunity to coach in the A-League and giving me (the) task of turning the club around.
"I will be forever grateful. I believe I have repaid that faith and trust placed in me and I believe the club is in a much better position now than it was at that time."
Stajcic's next move is unclear while the Mariners are again in a position of uncertainty with no coach in place and several key players poised to depart.
"Alen and Nahuel came to the club to help restore pride and credibility," Mielekamp said.
"I am confident that the legacy that Alen and Nahuel leave the club will remain with us going forward.
"The focus is now to ensure the club continues to move forward and build upon the success of this season and we are well progressed in setting up the structures for next season. Once things are finalised we will make announcements accordingly."
Stajcic became the Mariners' sixth new manager in as many years in March 2019 after the sacking of Mike Mulvey, taking on the job shortly after his controversial sacking as Matildas coach.
He won 19 matches in 59 games as Mariners coach, including 12 in the season just completed, which ended in Saturday's elimination final loss to Macarthur FC.