Celebrated triallist Usain Bolt won’t be playing, but Central Coast coach Mike Mulvey acknowledges more eyes than usual will be watching the Mariners when they start their A-League season at bogey club Brisbane on Sunday.
As expected Bolt, who has yet to earn a Mariners contract, wasn’t named in their squad for the match at Suncorp Stadium.
Mulvey denied the deluge of publicity around Bolt, 32, had been a distraction to his new-look squad.
But he recognised Bolt’s association with the club meant more people from around the world than ever before would be paying attention to the Mariners’ on-field efforts.
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“I don’t think there’s added (external) pressure, there is the pressure that you put on yourself,” Mulvey said.
‘The eyes of the world be on us and I’ll have my eye on as well, to see whether we cope with it.
“We’ve got some seasoned pros there who will help the younger players as well, so hopefully we can settle into a rhythm pretty early and play some good football, defend like our lives depend on it and attack with real intent.”
Mulvey was seen talking to Bolt on Thursday, but the coach said he also spoke to several other players.
He wasn’t concerned Bolt had rejected a reported offer to play in Malta and that the suggestion the Jamaican would be leaving the Mariners had been put to rest for the time being.
‘”I don’t think anything needs to be put to rest. We’ve covered that ad nauseum in the leadup, from when he was here to the game last week,” Mulvey said.
Brisbane has won 10 and drawn two of its past 12 games against the Mariners, but Mulvey stressed his revamped club was looking forward rather than back.
With more than 15 new players at the club, Mulvey said it could take six to seven games to establish his best starting line-up.
He felt it was up to other people to prove anything to Roar, which released him a few months after he led the club to a grand final win in 2013-14.
He felt former Roar star and Mariners recruit Tommy Oar would be able to handle any potential negativity from the Brisbane fans.
“Tommy has played in Cyprus recently. Whatever happens in Brisbane will be a cakewalk as far as what you actually receive over there in terms of the vitriol from the opposition, but also the expectations from the home fans,” Mulvey said.