A guide to building a team culture in the A-League

A guide to building a team culture in the A-League

For the first time in the history of the A-League Mens, a new book takes a look inside a championship winning season.

The Vibe Manager – Inside the Central Coast Mariners 2023 A-League Championship, by former Socceroo Andy Bernal, is part-memoir, part insider account of the Central Coast Mariners run to, and ultimate success, in the A-League Men’s grand final earlier this year.

Through his friendship with Central Coast Mariners’ Chairman, Richard Peil, Bernal became part of the backroom staff for the team, with coach Nick ‘Monty’ Montgomery dubbing Bernal ‘The Vibe Manager’.

Bernal recounts that on the day he met Montgomery he immediately knew he wanted to be part of his backroom team.

“It was clear from day one that Monty is a born leader. I immediately likened him to the great managers of the game I had met, played for or played against, like British legends Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson, the Real Madrid Spaniards, ‘Pachin’, Vicente del Bosque and Julen Lopetegui, and Australia’s very own Ange Postecoglou.”

A fitness fanatic – even at age 57 – Bernal was named Director of Athletic Development officially, but ‘The Vibe Manager’ unofficially because of his ability to relate to players, not least because of his unique experience in the game spanning playing spells in Spain, England and Australia, and much more.

The togetherness of the team was one of the standout qualities of the Central Coast Mariners in the 2022-23 season.

“It was the typical situation of there being no ‘I’ in ‘team,” Bernal explains.

“Monty and the rest of us shaped the players – a few journeymen but mostly youngsters – into an extremely fit, cohesive, focussed and happy unit enjoying playing good football.

“In most peoples’ eyes, at the beginning of the season, we didn’t have a team of champions, but we showed by the end of it that we were a champion team.”

Bernal says that while Montgomery’s departure is a loss, new coach Mark Jackson has a similar background, is experienced at bringing out the best in young players, and the team can’t wait to defend its title. 

The Vibe Manager is available in paperback from Fair Play Publishing, Central Coast Mariners, and all good bookstores and online for $24.99.

A significant proportion of all proceeds for books sold via the Central Coast Mariners shop will be directed to the Central Coast Mariners Academy.

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