The worst-kept secret in Australian football was finally formally announced today with the appointment of Graham Arnold as Head Coach of the Socceroos with effect from the end of this year's World Cup. 

FFA Chairman Steven Lowy said Arnold was the best choice for the longer-term, with his appointment until the end of the 2022 World Cup. 

Lowy said the appointment of Arnold was part of a two-phase approach which included Bert van Marwijk in the short-term to take the Socceroos to the Russia World Cup, with Arnold taking up the reins afterwards and in time for the defence of the Asian Cup title in January 2019. 

FFA CEO - recently reappointed himself for another two years - said that Arnold was “an obvious candidate” for the role in light of Arnold's experience as a player and coach at national team level, his record as an A-League coach and “the passion he clearely has for the role”. 

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows him, but Arnold said it's a job he has always wanted to do and that it was now perfect timing for him. Arnold told confidants prior to van Marwijk's appointment that he didn't want to take the Socceroos to the World Cup because it would still be seen as “Ange's team”.

His reasoning was that if the Socceroos are successful at the World Cup, it would be his predecessor Ange Postecoglou's success; but if not successful, the blame would fall on the new coach for not working with the legacy left by Postecoglou. 

Arnold will be travelling to Russia in his new role to observe operation of the team at close quarters - not that he doesn't already have a good idea from his experience. In the press conference to announce the appointment today, Arnold said he wouldn't be getting in the way of van Marwijk, but he would be like any fan cheering on from the stands. 

Sydney FC, where Arnold has coached for the past four seasons, issued a statement prior to the FFA announcement wishing him all the best and making it clear they wanted him to stay.

“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,” said Sydney FC Chairman, Scott Barlow. 

Barlow, Sydney FC's CEO Danny Townsend and Arnold reinforced that Arnold is “110 per cent” focussed on Sydney FC for the remainder of the A-League season. 

Townsend also told Sydney FC members in an email prior to the announcement that a search has already commenced for Arnold's replacement with an appointment expected in May. 

Graham Arnold is one of the 592 Socceroos featured in Andrew Howe's forthcoming Encyclopedia of Socceroos available from Fair Play Publishing (out in May 2018). Pre-order the first edition now so you don't miss out! We can reveal that both Arnold's daughter and son-in-law are amongst the early purchasers. 

Categories: News | Socceroos

graham arnold, socceroos, sydney fc

You might also like: