Why Walmsley is wedded to all-out attack

Topics

The Manchester-born coach has been given the licence to focus on attacking football by Central Coast Mariners but after six matches without a win, many fans and pundits reckon enough is enough.

Central Coast have yet to keep a clean sheet this season and their gung-ho approach has seen them concede an average of two goals per game.

But Walmsley has no plans to change his philosophy and the 49-year-old deserves to be applauded for it.

"The point that we choose another approach, is the point where you accept that you can't play attacking football anymore," Walmsley said at his post-match media conference following the Mariners' 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory on Thursday.

The Mariners have been a breath of fresh air this season, with the likes of Mitch Austin and Anthony Caceres catching the eye as Walmsley backs his young charges to attack, attack, attack.

It is much more enjoyable to watch than the kind of lacklustre performance produced by Newcastle Jets against Adelaide United on Sunday.

The Jets failed to take a shot in their scoreless draw at Coopers Stadium, the first time - according to Fox Sports - that has happened since the 2007-08 season.

Newcastle sit fifth in the A-League table but have looked poor when asked to take the game to their opponents over the past two weeks.

Scott Miller's men were overrun by a 10-man Mariners side in the F3 Derby, while the Jets were bereft of ideas against bottom-side Adelaide.

While Newcastle went 90 minutes without firing a shot in Adelaide, eighth-placed Central Coast lead the A-League for efforts on goal this season.

The problem for Walmsley seems to be some ill-advised comments from Mariners chairman Mike Charlesworth, who claimed last month that entertainment "overrides results at this stage".

That phrase has inspired plenty of sniggers around the A-League but what the critics fail to realise is that Walmsley's approach - combined with the right players, who are given time to adapt - will almost certainly be a successful one.

Under Walmsley, the Mariners are playing a fluid 4-1-2-3 formation with a focus on passing forward, attacking full-backs, speed and creativity.

It does leave Central Coast open at the back but, as Walmsley suggests, this will only benefit his defenders in the long run.

"With younger players, they're going to make errors of judgement or be indecisive, which might catch them a little bit short, and we're prepared to wear that because at some point when they get it, they'll be so much better footballers for having that capability," he said.

"If we just sit off in deep block, without applying a great deal of one-on-one pressure and we're not engaging our defenders in one-on-one situations, they're not getting better at defending."

On Thursday, the Mariners came up against the reigning A-League champions and a side that effectively plays Walmsley's system already - a system that has led Victory to three trophies in 2015.

It will take time but already there has been enough in Central Coast's displays to suggest they'll get it right eventually.

In a competition where there is no relegation, why shouldn't the Mariners take a season to develop a philosophy that mimics that of the best teams both in Europe and here in Australia?

"As long as I'm here, we will never take a step back in terms of trying to play with some adventure," Walmsley said.

And nor should he.