The innovator who brought Bolt to the A-League
IT MAY not have been the plan from the outset, but Usain Bolt appears to have become very much a part of Mike Mulvey's Central Coast rebuild.
Back in April, when Mulvey took over last season's A-League wooden-spooners, Brisbane Roar's title-winning coach set about upturning what he branded the negative narrative surrounding a cash-poor club that's grown used to losing.
Football talent or not, Bolt has emerged as one of a few key ingredients in the recipe for revival.
"When I came in here the club was perennially on the bottom of the league, that's a big enough challenge as it is," Mulvey said.
"Someone asked me would Usain be a distraction? You don't lower your training standards when Usain Bolt walks in the door.
"This guy's a winner, he won eight Olympic gold medals. You don't do that just by having great ability, you do it by having great mental capacity.
"If he can pass on a little bit of that to my players who were coming from the cellar to try and get to the top, this can be great."
The pressure is on Mulvey to measure Bolt's worth as a footballer and, ultimately, decide if he should be offered a contract.
But the 55-year-old didn't see it that way, nor did he view the scrutiny of the sprinter's aspirations as his greatest coaching challenge.
Instead, the tallest task is returning the Mariners to the golden days of 2010-13, when Graham Arnold steered the side to remarkable success on a shoe-string budget.
Sporting director Mike Phelan and a player cleanout have already kick-started the process.
"When I first took the job it was a difficult job," Mulvey said.
"Obviously the position on the ladder for the last four years has been not what was required.
"If you look at this community we've actually over-achieved for the last 14 years, got to four grand finals.
"A rebuilding phase needed to be done. The club was actually in a failing capacity. Not just that, we were accepting of it. We were saying 'okay, we finished 10th'.
"So I needed to lift the bar a little bit, we needed to be innovative and creative and the chairman is on board with that.
"How much more innovative and creative can you get than bringing Usain Bolt to trial?
"He's already brought the biggest throng of media to this area, the spotlight is on Central Coast and the people here.
"It's just the first day.and all these people are here. Hopefully you come back for normal training now."