Former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic has emerged as the unlikely caretaker coach of A-League cellar dwellers Central Coast Mariners.
45-year-old Stajcic was sensationally sacked as boss of the Matildas in January, with the FFA citing concerns about a toxic culture for his removal.
Nonetheless, a report by Ray Gatt of The Australian and subsequent story from Dom Bossi of the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday morning revealed that Stajcic loomed as the likely boss of the Mariners for the final weeks of the A-League season.
Alen Stajcic and his assistant will meet with players after training this morning
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) March 11, 2019
The Mariners then confirmed the appointment later in the morning.
“I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners for providing me this opportunity,” Stajcic said upon his appointment.
“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.”
Sporting director Mike Phelan – who is currently seconded to Manchester United – spoke highly of Stajcic.
“Alen is an experienced coach, he has experience at the highest level coaching his country and is held in high esteem for what he achieved on the international stage,” he said.
“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.
“His role is to stabilise, bring everyone together – that includes the players and the staff. He will see us through until the end of the season and help position the football club going forward.
“At the end of the season, we will assess the situation but Alen’s role at the moment is to generate some momentum leading into the back end of the season – we will discuss the future during that time, and at the end of that time.”
A head coach of the NSW Sapphires and Sydney FC’s W-League side prior to his appointment with the Matildas, Stajcic has never been a head coach in a senior men’s side.
The Mariners sacked former boss Mike Mulvey in the wee hours of Sunday morning after his side capitulated 8-2 to Wellington Phoenix in Gosford.
The hapless Mariners have only won a single game during the 2018/19 season and reports have indicated that there are discussions in the New Leagues Working Group about the prospects of moving the club’s licence to Canberra or Brisbane.