Australian football’s worst-kept secret has been confirmed, with Graham Arnold announced as the Socceroos long-term, post-World Cup coach.
- Bert van Marwijk will coach the Socceroos during the World Cup, but Graham Arnold to take over in the long term
- Arnold has enjoyed huge success with Sydney FC in the A-League, though struggles continue in Asian Champions League
- He briefly coached the Socceroos for 12 months immediately after the 2006 FIFA World Cup
Arnold will take over from Bert van Marwijk at the conclusion of Australia’s FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia, and is expected to preside over the Socceroos until the 2022 World Cup.
Long expected to retake the reins he briefly held in 2006, Arnold’s favouritism for the Socceroos mentorship has firmed following record-breaking glory with Sydney FC in the A-League.
He will depart the Sky Blues fold at the end of the A-League season a hero, having guided Sydney FC to minor-premiership and grand final success last season with a record points haul.
“I feel at home, I’m already called Arnie by the chairman and CEO. ‘Graham’ went out the window pretty quickly,” Arnold said at his media conference.
“I’m honoured to be sitting here, I’m a very proud Australian. I’m passionate about football in this country.
“I’ll be going to Russia as one of millions of Australian football fans, I look forward to learning a lot from Bert [van Marwijk] from afar.”
Arnold was briefly Socceroos boss for 12 months following the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Guus Hiddink’s departure — mostly in a caretaker capacity — enduring a sorry Asian Cup campaign before reverting back to his assistant coach role when Pim Verbeek took over.
Graham Arnold will look to bring his Sydney FC success to the international fold with the Socceroos. (AAP: David Moir)
He said he had learned from mistakes made in his brief time as national head coach some 11 years ago.
Sydney FC tweets CONFIRMED | Head Coach Graham Arnold agrees to become the next @Socceroos Head Coach after the World Cup
“I’ve been heavily involved with the Socceroos for a long, long time. I know what the job’s about, I know it’s not an easy job, it’s a tough job, but I know I’ll do a great job this time. It’s a job that makes me so excited and I can’t wait,” he said.
“You learn from mistakes as a coach. Obviously I’ve made plenty, but I am a person that learns. My strengths are man-management and teaching the details. When you have great support around you, everything’s possible.
“I want to carry on Ange [Postecoglou]’s legacy of being proud Australians and that every time you put on the Australian shirt, you’re playing for the nation.”
Arnold reiterated his commitment to Sydney FC until the A-League season’s end.
“I just want to say that my commitment to Sydney FC is 110 per cent until the end of this season. I told the players this morning that this decision had been made, we’ve gone through the process with the players about what is happening.
“The players were really happy for me, they were united in the culture that we have at the club that when someone as an individual has success, we take it as a club environment to reward that success.
“I will give every bit of commitment from here today until the end of June, where we will finish this competition with silverware.”
Graham Arnold’s Sydney FC racked up a record points haul en route to sweeping all before them in the A-League last season. (AAP: Brendan Esposito)
He will be hoping for better success in the Asian Cup this time round when Australia looks to defend its title in January in the UAE.
Since his 2006 posting, Arnold has enjoyed success at the Central Coast Mariners, guiding the team to a 2013 A-League grand final triumph.
Arnold finished as A-League regular-season runners up with Sydney FC in his first season in charge of the Sky Blues in 2014-15, before a sorry 2015-16 season in which Sydney finished outside the finals spots.
But he made amends in a big way the season after, revamping the Sky Blues into one of the A-League’s all-time best XIs to sweep all before them last season.
That success has so far failed to translate to the continent, however, with another sorry display in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night seeing Sydney FC losing at home to Japan’s Kashima Antlers.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said Arnold could inspire the rest of the code in the country, like predecessor Postecoglou.
“We’re looking for people who can inspire the rest of the sport, and certainly we’ve got that in Graham Arnold,” Gallop said.
“He’s perfectly set up for this job. He’s got a deep knowledge of Australian football. He’s got the technical expertise to be successful.
“I’m really happy that we got another Australian in the job, I’m sure he’s going to be successful, and look forward to working with him.
“He’ll be part of Russia, looking at what’s going on, but that’s Bert’s gig at the moment, and we’ll look to hit the ground running [afterwards].”
Graham Arnold will be hoping for a better time of it in next year’s Asian Cup compared to the sorry 2007 campaign. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)
Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow congratulated Arnold on his new role.
“Although we will be sad to see him go at the end of the season, I’d like to thank him for the huge contribution he’s made and congratulate him on this new appointment,” Barlow said in a Sky Blues statement.
“To be blunt we didn’t want Graham to leave and we offered him a substantially bigger and longer contract to stay, but the lure of coaching his country has ultimately proven too much, and having complied with the terms of his contract, we would not stand in his way.
“Graham remains entirely focused on Sydney FC for the remainder of the season and on leading our team to back-to-back Premierships and Championships.”
Arnold earned 54 international caps for Australia as a player.