Former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic. Picture: Brett Costello
Former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic. Picture: Brett Costello

Sacked Matildas coach primed for Mariners gig

THE Mariners have pulled a rabbit from the hat and will install sacked Matildas coach Alen Stajcic as interim coach until the end of the season.

Less than three days after Mike Mulvey paid the price for a season of humiliation, Stajcic is in final talks to take on the task of rescuing something with six games remaining in the Mariners' campaign.

Stajcic will reportedly be unveiled as Mariners coach at 1pm.

It is a powerful show of faith in a coach mysteriously sacked less than five months before the women's World Cup, amid claims of a "toxic culture" that were undermined by conflicting evidence from his erstwhile employers at Football Federation Australia.

Stajcic has coached only in women's football, having run high performance programs and won the W-League with Sydney FC before his appointment as Matildas boss in 2014.

Now he has the challenge of taking over a resource-starved club where players have been at odds with the coaching staff and where the last two games have brought 5-3 and 8-2 losses.

Stajcic's new role will be seen as the first step in rehabilitating his reputation, after threats of legal action from his lawyers over anonymous briefings about his Matildas tenure.

Mike Mulvey got punted from the Mariners after a string of losses. Picture: Getty
Mike Mulvey got punted from the Mariners after a string of losses. Picture: Getty

His first task will be to repair fractures within the squad, with several players dropped last weekend, and prepare a side to face Newcastle in the F3 derby on Saturday.

Though the club does not intend to appoint a long-term successor to Mulvey until the end of the season, the interim position gives Stajcic a powerful opportunity to stake a claim for holding the job well beyond.

The fact he is the sixth coach in five and half years tells the story of the challenge facing Stajcic and the precariousness of the position he inherits with the lowest budget of any club in the A-League.

It had been expected that assistant coach Nick Montgomery would take over in the short term, but Stajcic is likely to bring his former assistant with the Matildas, Nahuel Arrarte, to the club as well.