Mariners facing 'most-important appointment in the history of the club'

The Mariners were no match for Kevin Muscat’s men who ran out 5-2 winners, which featured a Besart Berisha hat trick.
Paul Okon has reportedly stepped down from his role with the Central Coast Mariners.

Central Coast chief executive Shaun Mielekamp says the battling A-League club will look for an experienced head coach and can’t afford to get their appointment wrong.

Paul Okon quit the post on Tuesday, with youth coach Wayne O’Sullivan installed as caretaker for the rest of the season.

Online bookmaker posted O’Sullivan as the favourite for the full-time job, followed by former Adelaide United and Young Socceroos coach Aurelio Vidmar, ex-Brisbane mentor Mike Mulvey and former New Zealand and Wellington coach Ricki Herbert.

“We will take our time to make sure we get it 100 percent right,” Mielekamp said on Wednesday.

“It could be one of the most-important appointments in the history of the club, so we can’t make a mistake.

“We need someone with definitely a lot of experience and credibility and ability — to give us some new ideas, to give us some other options on the pitch and off the pitch, and some real leadership.”

He said while the future with Okon became untenable, he had moved the club a long way forward.

Paul Okon
Paul Okon and the Mariners could not come to an agreement over ‘the strategic direction of the football club.’

“He’s a brilliant coach and he’s done some brilliant things that will stay with this club for a long time,” Mielekamp said.

“I can only thank him deeply about what he’s brought to this club, what we’ve learnt from him here.

“It was a matter of we’re moving in different directions moving forward.”

The Mariners look set for a fourth-straight season out of the finals and a bottom-three placing.

Mielekamp said there was no easy fix, though he was adamant they could still compete against the more cashed-up bigger city clubs.

“We have to be smart; we have to make sure that there’s no mistakes. So, there’s a lot more pressure on every detail that we do,” he said.

“Can we compete? Absolutely. We’ve shown that this year, we’ve been competitive all year and we haven’t been too far off.”

The Mariners host league-leading Sydney FC on Saturday and Mielekamp is encouraged by the players’ attitude.

“There’s plenty of experienced players in the group; plenty of players who have been through these moments before,” Mielekamp said,

“I spoke to them all this morning and everyone is focused on the job at hand,” he said.

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