Walmsley vows recruitment revamp for Mariners

Central Coast’s new technical director Tony Walmsley says the Mariners’ foreign recruitment hasn’t worked out this season and his brief is to improve the quality of players the club brings in.

Walmsley returned to the Mariners last month after a spell as the head of Academy recruitment at Sheffield United.

He previously served as an assistant coach to Graham Arnold and as the Central Coast’s National Youth League coach.

Walmsley admits the Mariners have some way to go but is positive about the future of the club.

“I'm really positive about how the club is shaping up for the future,” he told FourFourTwo.

“There's some ground to make up, but I really appreciate the welcome I received and couldn't be more optimistic.  

“I'm introducing a robust system that captures information to inform player retention and drive recruitment activity.

“Talent identification and development of talented youth players is a key part of the strategy.

“The start point is always your existing players and we need to communicate this to the current group so they understand how they can be successful under the new model.”

Walmsley said the technical director role is unique to each club.

“At the Mariners it's about aligning the football department to the commercial objectives of the club towards sustainability,” he said.

“That works in two ways; on the pitch through a proactive attacking style that excites the fans, and the introduction of a squad model that measures talent and drives talent identification, recruitment and global demand.

“The league is maturing rapidly. The salary cap is a leveller and clubs have limited resources. The typical model is head coach driven and to engage a technical director requires a shift in thinking.”

One of Walmsley’s duties will be to help sign and recruit players to the Central Coast.

“In terms of leadership, yes, but it's important through the process to use the intellect and experience within the group to ensure decisions are balanced,” he said.

“The current squad will be reviewed over the coming weeks with those out of contract being tabled first. When negotiations start it will be from a position of absolute clarity. The acquisition of new players is being planned so we can go to market with a clear message.”

The Mariners brought in Malick Mane, Kim Seung-yong and Richard Vernes last year. Mane’s loan was terminated in November, Kim departed in December and Vernes has made just eight A-League appearances.

The Mariners have signed a partnership with Everton, which may see some Everton Under-21 Development players join the A-League club. Walmsley is hoping to get to the UK before the end of the current A-League season.

“Initially the partnership is about providing a quality loan environment for players,” he said.

“I will work with Joe Royle on the identification of those with the best fit. It has to work for both clubs. The Mariners has been a success story for a decade. The imports this season didn't work out, but we are forward looking.

“The challenge to uncover untapped talent is exciting and of course we have the Everton players to look forward to for next season.”

Central Coast has punched above its weight over the past decade in terms of producing players for higher honours, with the likes of ex-Mariners Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Alex Wilkinson and Mile Jedinak all current members of the Socceroos.

“There was a lot of pride from Mariners fans in the Asian Cup recently with four former players represented,” Walmsley said.

“The aim as a footballer is to keep improving and our model is working when we identify and nurture the right players through the A League to capture the eye of a global market.”