The future of Socceroos coach Graham Arnold remains in doubt after Australia’s stunning World Cup success, with rival nations and overseas clubs looking to poach the Australian mastermind.
After a grueling four-year journey to Qatar, Arnold guided the Socceroos to their best World Cup result – winning two matches and qualifying for the Round of 16, where they went toe-to-toe with giants Argentina.
Arnold’s contract expired following the tournament exit, and Football Australia is conducting a review into the tournament and entire qualification journey before making a decision on a contract extension. That review is expected to take until the new year.
Arnold, meanwhile, is traveling to England for a well-deserved six-week break over Christmas.
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But The Daily Telegraph reports multiple rival nations – one in East Asia, one in the Middle East – are hoping to sign Arnold to take charge of their national teams. The paper also reports that two overseas clubs also approached Arnold prior to the World Cup. Interest in the Australian is almost certain to increase on the back of the Socceroos’ success in Qatar.
Arnold’s agent Tony Rallis told The Daily Telegraph: “There was some initial dialogue (with FA) pre-World Cup where we were told KPIs had to be met before any contract discussions could occur, but there has been no direct offer.”
He added: “There was pre-World Cup interest from a couple of clubs and two national federations are interested in talking to us post-World Cup.”
Football Australia’s lengthy review could open the door for those suitors to pounce.
“I just want to go away, have a good holiday, have a break and see what happens,” Arnold said after the Argentina game.
“I haven’t even thought about it (my future). I need a rest and no doubt I will have good discussions then with the organization.”
But former Socceroo Robbie Slater – a good friend of his former international teammate and coach – told the Fox Football Podcast that Arnold wants to extend his time in charge of Australia’s men’s team.
Slater said on Monday: “I know Arnie very well, he wants it … Talking to him last night, I think he wants it.”
“I can’t see why he doesn’t get offered a new one,” Slater added, “unless of course they (FA) made up their mind before the World Cup, thinking it wasn’t going to be as successful as it was.”
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Arnold’s job had been on extremely thin ice earlier this year, after the Socceroos failed to ensure automatic qualification to the World Cup. Football Australia was on the brink of sacking Arnold ahead of the play-offs but held their nerve and the Socceroos delivered clutch wins over the UAE and Peru to book a place in Qatar.
But before the tournament started, there were widespread rumors that the FA was seeking to install another former Socceroo in John Aloisi as Arnold’s replacement after the tournament. Aloisi led Western United to an A-League championship last season.
But having exceeded all expectations at the World Cup, it is extremely unlikely that Graham Arnold will not be offered the chance to continue.
Slater said: “I think the game’s changed a little bit now. You listen to the players, you listen to the people… I think he deserves it. Why would you go off in a different direction?”
Aloisi today told RSN Breakfast Club: “If Graham Arnold still wants to stay on, I think he should stay on. I think that’s up to him, they should offer him a new deal. If he’s willing to stay then that would be great.
“If he decides to move on and it does become open and someone approaches me, I’d definitely be interested. It’s an ambition of mine to coach the Socceroos one day. Whether that’s now or in the future, I’d definitely love to.”
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FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA STATEMENT
FA chief James Johnson said: “As always occurs following a major tournament involving our national teams, Football Australia will begin a full review of the campaign and the senior men’s national team program including staffing as we enter the next FIFA World Cup cycle.
“We also look forward to discussing our plans for the next FIFA World Cup cycle with Graham when he returns to Australia following a well-deserved break. This thorough review will take place over the coming weeks and be presented to the board of Football Australia for consideration in the New Year.”