Central Coast Mariners are the A-League's joke that needs to be spoken about

The Gosford based club have escaped scrutiny for far too long...

No one likes to kick a club while they are down, but it's time for the Central Coast Mariners narrative to be exposed and analysed.

The last time Central Coast won an A-League match was February 23 2018 - in a 1-0 home win over Wellington Phoenix with a winning goal from Daniel De Silva.

Their previous league victory was in early December 2017, meaning they have only won one A-League match in their last 26 attempts.

An A-League season is only 27 games long, and a loss for the Mariners in the F3 derby against Newcastle Jets on Saturday will mean they have gone the equivalent of an entire regular campaign without a victory 

While it's an unlikely scenario, and hopefully it does not happen, this Central Coast team looks capable of going this entire A-League season without a win - and that's a horrifying prospect.

Usually teams in this situation have downed tools or aren't playing for their coach, but on face view, the Mariners look to be having a crack every week for their boss Mike Mulvey.

But it's just a frightening lack of quality within their first team and squad that appears to be ruthlessly exploited by opponents week after week.

He may be an excellent leader on and off the field, and also be a player you want in the trenches with you, but Mariners skipper Matt Simon is simply not good enough for any A-League starting XI.

The 32-year-old has scored 11 goals in his last 111 A-League appearances for Central Coast and Sydney FC - and is clearly not the player he once was during his first stint at Gosford.

When the Mariners announced Simon as club captain, it felt like a solid decision to appoint experience in the main leadership role and use the player off the bench to trouble tired defences - much like how Graham Arnold deployed him at the Sky Blues.

But Simon has started every game he has been available for this season - bar one match he was returning from a minor injury.

There is no doubting his work ethic or desire on the field, however he does not do what he is in the team for - and that's scoring or assisting goals.

His style of play and limitations with the ball at his feet also demands his teammates use long balls or crosses to find his head - which doesn't allow the Mariners to play an attractive brand of football or even hit teams on the counter.

What did the Central Coast decision makers expect when they signed Simon to be an integral part of their attack?

The same can be said about Ross McCormack - the former Melbourne City striker who scored 14 goals in 17 A-League games last season - and is currently out injured with a knee complaint.

Ross McCormack Central Coast Mariners

Without meaning to be disrespectful to McCormack, there is a reason he is unwanted at Aston Villa and has spent the majority of the last 14 months Down Under.

Nine of McCormack's City goal haul came from direct free kicks or penalties - and a few of his others came from absolute superb service from his teammates.

At the Mariners, the team isn't dangerous enough to win penalties or set pieces in threatening areas - and also haven't been providing plenty of ball to feet service in the 18-yard box for the Scottish striker.

Speaking of ball delivery, defender Jack Clisby was the designated set piece taker for the team during the 2-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix.

Clisby, at the age of 26, has already played at four different A-League clubs in six seasons, and whilst he is an honest trier, I can think of 20 A-League players I would rather taking set pieces.

The list of problems with the playing list appears to be never ending - veteran Michael McGlinchey looks a shadow of the player he was during his first stint with the club while Tommy Oar is injured and seemed to be struggling to with the lack of quality around him in his early matches.

Highly rated midfielder Aiden O'Neill, on loan from Premier League club Burnley, has not looked like a player who made his debut in England's top division in August 2016 - save for the stunning long-range goal he scored against Perth.

Aiden O'Neill Bolton Wanderers v Burnley Friendlly 26072016

In defence, Ben Kennedy has looked dicey in between the sticks until his recent injury, Kalifa Cisse looks to be a brutal centre half but makes way too many errors and Antony Golec appears to still be recovering from the broken leg he suffered earlier this year.

Like any horribly negative story, there is always a couple of shining lights - coming in the form of Matthew Millar, Kye Rowles and Connor Pain.

Millar has been the Mariners best player this season, taking players on as he steams up and down the right flank in a bid to make the most of his second chance at A-League level.

While he may lack a bit of quality, Pain can certainly hold his head high with his work rate and endeavour in most matches, and has even earned interest from England's Championship in his services.

Rowles has become a much more developed player since making the move from Brisbane Roar and has excelled in a variety of defensive roles despite the team being battered by opposition attacks most weeks.

Unfortunately the positives are few and far between - and it's hard to see how the Mariners can salvage anything out of this season.

The club's decision makers need to start working on a plan right now to ensure the mediocrity does not continue next campaign.

It's understandable that Central Coast have less resources than other A-League teams, but too many signings have been made over the past few years that simply aren't good enough.

Finishing eighth in the league or lower in the last four seasons - including two wooden spoons - is a disgraceful record that needs to stop.

Fox Sports pundit John Kosmina believes the Mariners need to become accountable if their mediocrity continues.

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"You know, if Wellington Phoenix have to live up to certain expectations in terms of maintaining their licence, so do the Mariners,” Kosmina said on Sunday Shootout.

"And if they don’t meet those parameters, maybe they might have to hand back their licence in a year or two as well, for another club to come in.

"And you’ve got to look at it — would the Jets be able to swallow up and develop that area? That’s a big statement but it’s something that needs to be considered."