Pragmatic Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss said his club needs to accept it is in the midst of a rebuilding era following Friday night's 2-0 loss to Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium, the Mariners' third loss on the trot.
Perennially an A-League powerhouse with two Premier's Plates, one championship from four grand final appearances and three stints in the AFC Champions League, the Mariners' golden era appears to have finally closed.
First-half goals to Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferreira on Friday sealed Central Coast's fate as the Reds dictated from the outset in wet, slippery conditions.
"No-one wants to lose matches, let alone three in a row," Moss said.
"It's not something that we're used to at the Mariners.
"It is a rebuilding era at the club and we have to accept that we're going to go through a tough spell.
"We've brought some quality in during the transfer window but we also lost a lot of quality as well.
"We've got to keep moving in the right direction."
Adelaide pieced together arguably their most complete performance of the season, while Central Coast showed considerable second-half despite being comprehensively outplayed.
Moss was full of praise for his players post-match but rueful of two slack goals conceded, which effectively ended the contest.
"The second half showed some real signs of promise," he said.
"We played with a real sense of freedom in the second half with the ball.
"We adapted very well tactically at half-time to a change of system.
"Overall I walk off the pitch very proud of my players, but two moments of sloppiness in the first half cost us two goals.
"Quality teams do that to you. It wasn't structural; it was individual moments of sloppiness.
"That’s what we have to address."
Moss and the Mariners know what it takes to be successful and the interim Central Coast manager believes the Reds, with just one loss from their past 10 starts, are capable of going all the way.
"I remember sitting in this chair not that long ago (after losing to Adelaide 4-0) saying they're playing a great brand of football with the belief from (coach) Josep (Gombau) in the way he wants to play," Moss said.
"And his players bought into it.
"We gave them the launching pad to go and have the run that they've had.
"You'd have to say they're real contenders now.
"They've got experience in the back, a fantastic goalkeeper and players in the front line who can hurt you in the blink of an eye."comments