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A-League: What has gone wrong with the Mariners?

Central Coast Mariners have begun their title defence with three straight defeats and the lack of a clinical striker is costing them.

The Mariners stunned Melbourne City in last season’s grand final, running out 6-1 winners, but a lot of water has passed under the bridge in a short space of time.

There has been a change in coach and some key players have moved on, meaning they are currently a shadow of the side that shocked the A-League just a few months ago.

Not since Brisbane Roar lost four games on the spin back in 2014/15, has a team’s title defence got off to such a bad start.

They are now priced at 11.00 to defend their title, but it is going to take a massive turnaround based on the evidence so far.

So what has gone wrong on the Central Coast? Let’s take a look some of the issues facing the club.

Change in coach and players

The loss of coach Nick Montgomery, who has headed to Scotland for a fresh challenge, was always going to be a big blow for the Mariners.

Montgomery worked wonders during his time at the helm and when a club loses such a leader, it leaves a huge void to fill.

New coach Mark Jackson has the credentials to do it, but it could take time for him to work his magic.

The noises coming from the camp during pre-season were very positive, but it could still take time for his methods and football philosophy to pay off on the pitch.

The same can be said with regards to the players, who need time to gel as a team.

Like most A-League clubs, there were a host of changes during the off-season and the Mariners so far look like a team that are still getting to know each other.

Lack of goals

Jackson has admitted that a lack of goals in the opening three games of the season is a big concern for him.

They have scored just one, and that came from a central defender, leading Jackson to issue a rallying call to his strikers.

The loss of Jason Cummings to the India Super League is huge. The Socceroos star scored 20 goals last season and was key to their success.

Not only that, Samuel Silvera and Beni Nkololo, who both scored eight goals last season, have also moved on to pastures new.

So far no-one in the Mariners side has stepped up to the plate and shown they are capable of getting the goals needed.

They have had just 16 shots on target over three games and just one has hit the back of the net.

Unless things improve quickly, then Jackson has admitted they will need to bolster their attack with a new striker.

Poor discipline

The season is just three games old, but the Mariners have already had two players sent off and eight players booked.

That kind of poor discipline will cost them badly and is something they need to eradicate quickly.

Not only does it effect what happen on the pitch there and then, but has a knock-on effect as players are then suspended for the next game, possibly even longer.

Admittedly the Mariners were 2-0 down when Jacob Farrell was sent off in the opening game against Adelaide, but it pretty much ended their chances of a fightback.

It was the same against Perth Glory as Angel Torres was stupidly sent-off with his side trailing 1-0, before they conceded another late on.

If the Mariners are to put things right, they need to keep players on the pitch.

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