Stajcic gets unexpected chance at Mariners to answer FFA's toxic culture claims

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A surprise coaching appointment gives the sacked Matildas manager a chance to clear the air

Alen Stajcic was fired from his role as Matildas coach because of Football Federation Australia's claims of a 'toxic culture', now the 45-year-old has been hired by the Central Coast Mariners to fix the culture within the struggling A-League team.

Kind of poetic isn't it?

We may never know exactly why Stajcic was sacked from Matildas, but he has certainly been handed an unexpected opportunity to have a fresh start in Gosford.

There is a weird synergy with Stajcic and Central Coast's current positions - both have been in limbo for a number of months and now have a chance to achieve something in the six matches left before season's end.

As pointed out by Stajcic during his first press conference, the Mariners have been leading in nine of their 21 A-League matches this season, but have only managed to convert one of these advantages into a victory - their sole win for the entire campaign.

This shows the mental weakness that has set in amongst the squad, notwithstanding the general lack of quality in the playing list because of injuries and poor recruitment.

Stajcic won't be expected to perform miracles in the final six games of the A-League season, but the Mariners hierarchy and fans will be hoping he can restore the spirit and discipline within the team.

There won't be a goal to win or get a result in a certain amount of games, but more a desire for the team to produce better performances where they fight to the end of the 90 minutes and not collapse pathetically in the middle of matches.

Central Coast have lost their last two matches by a combined margin of eight goals and conceded 13 goals during that time - in performances lacking heart, spirit and effort.

While Stajcic believes he can help the team psychologically, questions must be asked of his coaching experience for this level of football - and despite his trophy-laden record in women's football, he has never taken charge in the men's game before.

Yes he has coached at the highest level of the women's game both domestically and internationally, but there is no doubt that dealing with the two sexes both on and off the field would be a different task albeit with some similarities. 

With only a half-dozen matches to go until the end of the season, it's unrealistic for Stajcic to have a huge impact on the team tactically, but he can reshape them mentally.

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A team can be transformed by a different coach and a change in mentality - just look at Manchester United's rise under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"It’s a mental battle rather than a physical or tactical battle. It’s a hard part to fix but it’s also one of the quickest to get right," Stajcic said at the press conference to announce the Mariners gig.

And if Stajcic is to have an impact at Mariners, it's likely to be evident in the one thing the FFA said he failed in - team culture.

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