As Australian football recoils in shock from its worst kept secret, we take a sneak-peek at the Socceroos under Graham Arnold, with Matt Simon leading the line…
It’s official – Arnold will lead the Socceroos post-2018 World Cup on a four year contract. It’s stabilisation time for the Australian national team, and there’s few more stable selections than a man with ten years’ experience working with the Socceroos.
In addition to his controversial year as caretaker coach – some say he was faced with a thankless task, others that he horribly underperformed - Arnold was assistant to Frank Farina, Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek.
He was also Olyroos coach at the 2008 Olympics. We exited at the group stage, but the performances were damn close…
Now, ten years and two A-League Championships later, Arnie finally gets a proper crack at the big time. But what can we expect from Graham Arnold’s Socceroos?
Boring, boring Arnie. Defensive grinch.
Arnold has often rebuked his defensive reputation, with some virtue. Sydney tucked away the most goals in the league last season – six more than attacking-minded Melbourne Victory, while conceding 19 less.
Likewise, his Central Coast Mariners side led the goal tally in 2012/13, again conceding the least. Arnold says rather than play defensively, he “respects defence”, which is what a lot of Socceroos fans were calling for under Ange Postecoglou.
Arnold won’t recreate Postecoglou’s style, nor should he. Arnie’s Mariners and Ange’s Brisbane Roar, later Melbourne Victory were always very close throughout their respective coaches’ reigns.
Ange's vision, and perhaps more worryingly the national curriculum, may just have to wait. But at least there's some aspects to an Australian coach that always read well on paper.
"I want to continue Ange’s legacy of being proud Australians, taking pride every time we put on the shirt," Arnold said.
"It’s clear that Ange had a fantastic staff, with what they accomplished...so it’s going to take me a little bit of time to learn and watch."
In his post-appointment press conference, Arnie said his strengths were “man-management and attention to detail”.
There’s an underpinning philosophy beneath Arnold’s work. He’s had a long association with life-coach Bradley Stubbs, focusing on positive communication and mindfulness.
While it might sound zany, especially for a 54-year-old who sounds like a coal miner, it’s obviously working. Sydney FC are phenomenally consistent and resilient, able to dampen pressure when it arises and build momentum as easily as Lego blocks.
Expect an overly-confident, almost egotistic Socceroos side.
Arnold will instruct his players to never use the word ‘hope’, always ‘will’. It’s why many fans find him unreservedly smug. But it’s also why he’s accumulating a trophy cabinet to back those words up.