Ex-Leeds United coach in running for award after dramatic results turnaround and 'surprise' streak

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Former Leeds United player and coach Mark Jackson is up for an award after a dramatic turnaround in form led to a ‘surprise’ streak in December for his Central Coast Mariners.

Jackson began his playing career with Leeds and then returned to the club as a coach in the youth system in 2015 under academy boss Paul Hart. A steady ascent from coaching the Under 15s ended with Jackson taking charge of the Under 21s and leading them to a Premier League 2 Division 2 title. Jackson moved up in the Leeds world again when Jesse Marsch made him part of the senior staff at Thorp Arch. But in November 2022 when the opportunity arose to step out on his own with the MK Dons job, Jackson said farewell to his boyhood club and took over a team sitting 22nd in League One. Although he won his first game in charge against Forest Green Rovers, which put MK Dons just a point off safety, that was their reality when the season ended. MK Dons finished 21st, a single point behind Cambridge United, and their relegation was followed by Jackson’s exit.

September of 2023 brought a new challenge, however, with Jackson moving Down Under to become manager of reigning A-League champions, Central Coast Mariners, taking the place of Leeds-born Nick Montgomery who had left to take over at Hibernian. Jackson suffered defeat in his first four A-League outings but since November 25 has transformed their fortunes entirely with a seven-game unbeaten run that has lifted them to fifth place in the table, six points behind leaders Melbourne Victory. A 4-2 win over Perth Glory on New Year’s Eve made it an unbeaten month of December, which apparently took Jackson by surprise. "You kind of go from game to game so I only got told about it (the December streak) afterwards," he said. "It's that old cliche that you take each game as it comes and that's what we've been doing. We'll continue to do that, but it's a good recognition for what the boys have achieved. We're in a good moment but we need to keep in that momentum and keep that strong focus going.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Mariners’ three wins and two draws in December have earned Jackson a nomination from the Football Coaches Australia panel for the A-League coach of the month award. Each member of the FCA panel votes for four coaches each month, granting four votes to their pick for Coach of the Month, three for their second-choice, two for their third and one for their fourth choice. A fan vote then decides each Coach of the Month award, and will then be a factor of the end-of-season process to determine Coach of the Year. Jackson is up against Wellington Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano, who won the October and November awards, Melbourne Victory boss Tony Popovic and Melbourne City’s Aurelio Vidmar. January began well for Jackson too, with a 1-0 win at Western Sydney and this weekend he pits his wits against Popovic and Melbourne Victory for the second time this season, having shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw in December.

Related topics: