Patience pays off for Jackson's high-flying Mariners

Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

Central Coast Mariners are unrecognisable from the team who opened their 2023-24 A-League Men campaign as defending champions with a 3-0 loss to Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.

After that dismal start in October, the Mariners then lost their next three and were staring gloomily at a 0-4 start to the season.

Fast-forward three months, and after smashing the Reds 4-0 in Adelaide on Saturday, Central Coast haven't lost since and are now up to second after going 11 matches undefeated in the league and 13 in all competitions.

Coach Mark Jackson reflected on the transformation since that opening day loss, admitting it was a tough start to life in Gosford after he was appointed just three weeks before the start of the campaign, taking over from championship-winning coach Nick Montgomery.

"Everything is a process when you first come into a club, particularly at the time I came in," Jackson said.

"We had limited time with the squad and there were certain players who had moved out of the squad and we were embedding new players in. Sometimes, these processes take a little bit of time.

"And that's what it was – we had a clear vision of what we wanted to do and it's not going to happen overnight.

"We've consistently built every training session, every week, every game; we consistently build. We believe in what we're doing and we stick to those processes even though when we don't get them right sometimes. And we didn't get them right in the early games.

"At this moment in time we're on a good run but we won't change; we'll still try to learn and get better."

The Mariners have just three days to recover, prepare and travel for a top of the table clash against Wellington at Sky Stadium in New Zealand on Tuesday.

Jackson acknowledged the short turnaround but is looking forward to the clash with just two points separating the two sides.

"The staff have got all a plan in place for the players to recover – that process has started already," he said.

"Wellington arer a fantastic team and we've watched them a little bit today, even though we were coming to the Adelaide game, we had a little bit of an eye on what we were going to do, because it's such a quick turnaround.

"We'll be ready – we see it as an opportunity to go and test ourselves against a team we've not played yet this year and a team who have been flying, so they'll be a threat but we'll be prepared for it and hopefully give a good account of ourselves."