Central Coast Mariners have moved swiftly to appoint Alen Stajcic as caretaker head coach for the remainder of the 2018-19 A-League season.
It comes just days after former coach Mike Mulvey was sacked in the early hours of Sunday morning, following a record-equalling 8-2 loss to Wellington Phoenix in Gosford.
Stajcic’s appointment comes two months after he was dumped as head coach of Australia’s national women’s team for overseeing what FFA described as a toxic culture within the Matildas.
The club confirmed the appointment of Stajcic in a statement released Tuesday morning, before the caretaker coach addressed media in Gosford in the afternoon, where the former Matildas coach stressed the positivity he had for the position, and the need for players and the club to experience “a clean slate”.
“For me to drag any of my past into this scenario would be wrong,” Stajcic said.
“There’s a group and there’s a club here that really needs to focus on what it needs to deliver moving forward. For the short-term there’s a big challenge here to try and fix this club up.”
A two-time W-League coach of the year winner during his time with Sydney FC before taking on the Matildas role, Stajcic said his lack of experience coaching senior men’s football was irrelevant to his appointment.
“As a player I’ve been involved in men’s football my whole life ... for me it’s not about coaching males or females or Mariners or boys or girls, it’s about coaching footballers,” he said.
“I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners for providing me this opportunity,” Stajcic had said in the statement. “This is a club with a very rich history, which is something that everyone is committed to restoring.”
“We’re well aware of the hard work ahead of us, but that starts now. I relish a challenge and can’t wait to get started.”
Central Coast Mariners sporting director Mike Phelan extended a welcome to Stajcic from the UK where he’s based, working as part of Ole Gunner Solskjær’s Manchester United staff.
“Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Alen to the Mariners,” Phelan said. “Speaking with Alen and the board, there are two key elements we need to ensure over the next six weeks – that’s stability and harmony.”
“What we need right now is a manager who can take the helm during a crucial period. We recognise the skills Alen has and the club is confident that he will be able to draw on those skills for the advantage of the Mariners.”
There has been no commitment as to whether Mariners will consider Stajcic for the role long-term, with the statement confirming the club will “assess” his performance at the end of the season.
Stajcic confirmed that existing club staff would stay on for the rest of the campaign, and that former Matildas assistant Nahuel Arrarte would be joining the Mariners backroom.