Mariners look into A-League fatigue issues
While they're waiting for the cash from the player sales to come, the Central Coast Mariners were handed a reality check.
How the A-League leaders were ripped apart for 45 minutes before character and second-half grit grabbed them a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory in Launceston will occupy much of coach Graham Arnold's week.
Arnold dismissed the transfer talk surrounding Mariners' players as an excuse for their lethargy as Victory toyed with them but wasted their chances.
Arnold believed it was fatigue which flattened his team, possibly from the busy Christmas-New Year period, and is desperate to ensure the issue is quickly addressed as his side had their lead cut to two points over second-placed Adelaide United.
"Thursday, we trained poorly - Friday, we trained poorly. The first half, we were poor," Arnold said.
"We looked legless. We're going to do a lot of research on why that was the case.
"It was all due to fatigue, when you see players who normally have so much energy ...
"When it's just one or two, it's rare.
"When it's the whole team, then there's got to be something behind it."
But Arnold doesn't believe it's the ongoing speculation over his players, who are transfer targets for the world in the January transfer window.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan's proposed trial with Scotland's Rangers has officially been called off by the Mariners - understood in part to be because other concrete offers have been received.
Danish club Randers heads those keen on Ryan, while striker Bernie Ibini is bound for a trial this week with Belgium's Club Brugge, where Socceroos greats Frank Farina and Paul Okon starred.
Midfield star Tom Rogic is training with Scottish giants Celtic, though there is further interest reported from English Premier League clubs in the 20-year-old.
And midfielder John Hutchinson is being linked with a move to the Chinese Super League.
Arnold says he's thrilled people are taking notice of his players, and is keen to see them develop further - even if it's not at the Mariners.
"If they do go, it's fantastic for them.
"We have to accept we're always going to lose our better talent.
"I'm very proud we're getting that sort of recognition as a team.
"I want to see those players playing for the Socceroos, and the best way for those players to play for the Socceroos is to keep developing and keep progressing."