It will go down as perhaps the most brutal axing of a coach in A-League history. Straight after the final whistle, as angry fans offered some unsolicited advice to the bench, Mulvey was quickly escorted into the tunnel by a security guard, leaving a bemused Mark Rudan to wonder why he had been snubbed a post-match handshake.
His last television interview with Fox Sports was conducted as jubilant Phoenix players belted out a celebration song in the background.
What happens next will be determined on Monday afternoon. Mielekamp said it was still a “live discussion” as to whether an interim coach would be appointed for the last six rounds, or whether assistant Nick Montgomery would step up. A new permanent boss won’t be installed until the off-season.
Charlesworth’s role in Central Coast’s downfall from a club that routinely punched above its weight to a rudderless basketcase has predictably become the theme behind the latest round of supporter frustration. A record low crowd of 3703 watched Saturday’s rout.
At the moment Mike Charlesworth is the only one keeping the Central Coast Mariners on the Central Coast.
Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp
While acknowledging the impact of the club’s lack of resources, Mielekamp said it was effectively a choice between Charlesworth or probable relocation.
“That’s something I just think people should be aware of – if there was a big offer from someone to purchase the licence and relocate it, there’s no guarantees that wouldn’t happen,” Mielekamp told the Herald.
“At the moment Mike Charlesworth is the only one keeping the Central Coast Mariners on the Central Coast.
“He’s continued to fund the club to the capacity that’s there. That’s the challenge for Mike, to find ways to get more revenue into the club so that we can be competitive.”
Mulvey has been touted as a scapegoat in some quarters but dressing-room sources have told the Herald that he had lost the respect of the playing group long ago.
The former Brisbane Roar coach triumphantly declared at the Mariners’ end-of-season awards night in May 2018 that “the age of mediocrity is over”. They are now on course for the second-worst campaign in A-League history with just one win from 20 matches.
The playing group, in the words of defender Jack Clisby, is “disgruntled”. Mulvey himself said on Saturday night there was a “toxic atmosphere” around the club.
His big-name recruits have flopped, the squad has disciplinary issues as evidenced by the recent suspensions of Matt Simon for dissent and Andrew Hoole for breaking a club-imposed alcohol ban, and their best players – like Matt Millar – are lining up to leave.
The Mariners are also undergoing significant off-field change. Although Charlesworth has not divested his shareholding, new directors have recently joined the board to provide fresh football and financial expertise.
One of them, Anton Tagliaferro, owns a club in Malta and has been financially contributing to Central Coast for the past 12 months on what Mielekamp described as a purely philanthropic basis.
Meanwhile, sporting director Mike Phelan is due to arrive back in Gosford next Monday to determine his role with the club moving forward.
Phelan has been working as an assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United since December, but Mielekamp said he was still in touch on a “daily” basis to discuss matters at the Mariners.
“It’s amazing, some of the times we’ve been able to speak with him – just hours before kick-off with Liverpool or PSG,” Mielekamp said.
“It just shows he’s still very, very much dedicated. The challenge he’s got is he’s not physically here. That’s a big reason why he’s coming over … he still wants to be a part of it, it’s just a question of how.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.