Graham Arnold’s impending departure marks the end of an era for the Sky Blues, but far from rest on their laurels, Sydney now face the daunting task of finding his replacement…
Club-owner David Traktovenko and Chairman Scott Barlow have an interesting dilemma on their hands.
Do they walk down the path of their rivals, Western Sydney Wanderers, by attempting to instate a vastly different, progressive philosophy? Or do they try to maintain the status quo?
The below candidates represent some of the hot-favourites - as well as some wild cards – to take the mantle at Bling FC and all the potential riches that come with it.
Tony Popovic: Everyone's favourite to assume the role, although hardly without controversy.
The man who’s credited with building the Wanderers would undoubtedly sacrifice his high esteem in the West should he take the role, but after a rough stint at Turkey, Sydney might be just the place to get his coaching-career back on track.
As winner of the Asian Champions League in 2014, A-League Premiership in 2013 and three time Championship runner-up, Popovic has by-far the highest pedigree of any coach on this list.
But could he betray the fans that chanted his name and worshipped his image on tifos?
To make things even juicier, Popovic was reportedly in attendance at Sydney FC’s last match alongside Zeljko Kalac. If you thought it was bad when Vedran Janjetovic swapped clubs, just imagine the fallout with Popa.
Ante Milicic: The Socceroos assistant and Olyroos manager was building up a decent head of steam before a disastrous campaign at the AFC U/23 Championship ruined all momentum.
Milicic’s side lost to Vietnam and South Korea to exit at the group stage, although whether that's enough to ruin his chances of an A-League gig remain to be seen.
His only previous head coaching position was a year at Sydney United, before assistant roles at Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney – as the latter won the Asian Champions League - led to his assistant role under Ange Postecoglou, as Australia won the 2015 Asian Cup.
Mark Rudan: A Sydney FC foundation player, captain and successful NSW NPL coach in his own right, Rudan has built a strong reputation and glowing profile within Australian and NSW football, which has often overshadowed his own playing career.
‘Rudes’ has managed Sydney United 58 – his former club – since 2013, with only a minor break as assistant to Australia’s U/20s interrupting his lengthy spell.
In this time, he's led the club to an NPL championship and two NSW NPL titles, in addition to two Waratah Cups.