Championship-winning former Central Coast defender Patrick Zwaanswijk believes bringing in a technical director to oversee the top-to-bottom operations of the Mariners might be a long-term fix for the club’s deeply entrenched problems
After seven defeats in a row, and the unpalatable prospect of a fourth wooden spoon in six seasons, coach Alen Stajcic finds himself in an all too familiar position to his recent predecessors.
In the latest low point, the weekend’s 6-2 submission at Western United encapsulated all that’s wrong at the club.
Whilst owner Mike Charlesworth last week insisted the former Matildas mentor will not be made to walk the plank, no matter what happens for the remainder of the campaign, Zwaanswijk believes the current Mariners model is irreparably broken.
The Dutchman, who combines assistant coaching roles with the Olyroos and Young Socceroos with a gig at NSW NPL Hills United, told The World Game: “It’s been the same issues now for six years on the pitch (since the success-saturated era of Graham Arnold) and in my view the club need a technical director figure, as they have in Europe.
“They need a head of football who looks at everything from the academy to the first team and has a clear vision and philosophy on recruitment and how the team should play.
“He would advise the coaches and dictate the overall approach and strategy.
“What’s been happening in recent times is a coach coming in, whether good or bad, and doing whatever he wants ... whether that’s been Paul Okon, Wayne O’Sullivan or Mike Mulvey.
“There’s been no clear football philosophy like you’d see, for example, at Ajax or Utrecht where there’s a clear structure of playing say a 4-3-3 system.
“Whoever the coach is has to adhere to that way of playing.
“The Mariners need that clear vision of say being known as hard workers who are tough to beat. Of course you want to entertain also but results are what brings fans to the stadium.
“The Mariners need a football person who is accountable if the coach doesn’t perform and the players don’t perform.
“Instead of Mike Charlesworth being asked what he’s going to next, you could put that responsibility on the sporting director rather than the CEO Shaun Mielekamp or the owner.
“He can be that link with the coach, who of course is ultimately responsible for what happens on the field and at training.”
Zwaanswijk, who had a previous two-year contract at the Mariners academy curtailed, has been in informal discussions over the past two years over returning to the coaching fold, most likely as an assistant.
And while he would welcome the opportunity to help the club, he is more concerned with them rising off the floor, whether he is a part of the revival or not.
“Coaches say they are building and need time and that’s what we’ve heard from the Mariners over the last five years,” he added.
“But there’s a danger of that becoming white noise.
“Is there a five-year plan - or is it just appointing a coach. But that, in itself, is not a plan.
“The Mariners’ lineups for the last 18 games have never been the same, so are they building for the best team after 18 rounds, 27 rounds or maybe two years?
“Do you always need to play the foreign players when sone of them aren’t good enough?
“You sometimes have better local players on the bench.
“I hope things change, but for me as a fan I’m not seeing anything that would make me go and watch them each week.
“You’ve got players performing below their ability and you need to know why that’s happening.
“It’s unbelievable to see where they are again. Since Arnie has left it’s all just gone wrong.”
Referring to Stacjic, Charlesworth, speaking before the loss to Western United, said: “We wont be making changes (in terms of his position).
“It’s a work in progress still. There’s a lot to be done but we’re not giving up and will keep battling away.”