Only Sydney remains on the A-League coaching carousel

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    Former Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold, always one to throw his two cents in on Australian football. AAP Image/Paul Miller

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    With Graham Arnold confirming late yesterday afternoon his intentions to remain at the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Heart set to announce their replacement for John van’t Schip this morning, there’ll only be two spots left on the coaching merry-go-round for next season.

    When the Heart announce their man, at 10.30am EST, it will leave the two Sydney clubs as the only ones still to announce their manager.

    For the sake of the development of coaching in Australia, they could do a lot worse than offer the roles to a couple of our talented youngsters.

    Of course, for months it looked almost certain that Arnold would make the move up the F3, and my mail only two weeks ago was that it was all but a done deal.

    But there’s an old adage that sometimes, if these things aren’t sorted quickly, they’re not sorted at all, and that appears to have been the case with this on-again, off-again saga.

    Things can change very quickly in football and only in the last week Sydney FC have had a re-structure in the board-room that has seen David Traktovenko and his son-in-law Scott Barlow assume greater control of the club.

    Meanwhile, up at Bluetongue, Lawrie McKinna has returned from China to take on the role of technical director, while the club works behind the scenes on a funding injection from either Russia or John Singleton, or both.

    How much these recent manoeuvres influenced Arnold’s final decision remains unclear, but at the end of the day it looks like he may have opted for the security and continuity offered by the Mariners over the pressure and dollars offered by Sydney.

    Sydney FC’s football director Gary Cole, in a statement yesterday, offered a different take, claiming Sydney “were presented with some last minute requests, which we were not prepared to meet”.

    Arnold, in truth, never looked totally convinced about Sydney’s offering, regularly clamouring for more favourable terms through the media.

    Things, as they say, weren’t meant to be, and in light of day, the procrastination might prove a blessing for all the parties.

    While there was a strong push for Arnold to come to Sydney in parts of the media, there were also many questions raised about whether he was the right fit for a club looking to rediscover some of the brash and bravado lacking in recent times.

    A manager who has essentially thrived on playing the role of underdog, creating a siege mentality and setting his formation out in a difficult to break down 4-4-2 diamond, Arnold would have had to show a bit more at Sydney.

    Now, he decided, wasn’t the time.

    It means the Mariners can maintain the stability of the past couple of seasons, while Sydney go to plan B.

    Exactly what that is remains unclear, with the rumour-mill yesterday even throwing up the name Ernie Merrick, no doubt due to his past association with Cole at Melbourne Victory.

    In truth, it isn’t an option that garners great enthusiasm.

    Another option, of course, is to bring back former player and assistant coach Tony Popovic.

    That’s of course provided he’s no longer the man for the FFA’s West Sydney franchise.

    Two weeks ago Popovic was the strong fancy for the new role, but in recent days it’s been reported he’s been wavering on a couple of points, including the length of the contract offered.

    Throwing even more intrigue into the mix is what happens at the Heart this morning.

    The strong word is that the club will choose youth coach John Aloisi over first team assistant Ante Milicic.

    If that’s the case, then Milicic, another western Sydney product, with recent experience in the region, having successfully coached Sydney United in the New South Wales Premier League becomes another great option.

    If there’s one thing that resonated at the two forums for the new team that I attended, it’s that the fans want local products involved, so either Popovic or Milicic would prove very popular choices.

    Just as Paul Okon would have been.

    With the former Marconi junior eventually unveiled as the new Young Socceroos manager a fortnight ago, it might create opportunities for the two Sydney United products.

    Three weeks ago I wrote that it’s time for some of our younger breed of managers to be given a chance on the coaching carousel, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

    If it transpires that Aloisi, Milicic and Popovic line-up at the start of season eight, it would be another step forward in the technical evolution of football in Australia.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (81)

    • May 8th 2012 @ 7:44am
      Bondy said | May 8th 2012 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      One has to raise the question why a local football club on the Central Coast with a population of 300,000 has taken preference over Sydney F.C. its a massive tick of confidence that Arnold has of the Central Coast compared to Sydney F.C., which of those two clubs gets better run in relation to player development on the park its a no brainer .

      Ernie Merricks C.V. looks mighty impressive and with no real reason of the Victory throwing him out and seeing the ramifications of that Durakovic and Magilton have proven Merrick to be a very good A League coach .

      • May 8th 2012 @ 8:33am
        Titus said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Bondy, if Arnold had no intention of coming to Sydney, why didn’t he just say so? Instead of messing everyone around?

        Make no mistake, if he could have got what he wanted he would have been on his way. I think the whole thing says alot about the man and I am glad he isn’t coming to Sydney.

        Oh……and no thanks to Merrick.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 8:49am
          Brad said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          What has Merrick done wrong Titus , has he not delivered silverware !

          • May 8th 2012 @ 9:59am
            Titus said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            Sydney needs quality players and an attractive, attacking game…….for this reason we should have ruled out both Merrick and Arnold.

            Oh yeah…….and he is a ta…..a Victory coach.

          • May 8th 2012 @ 10:46am
            Australian Rules said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            Under Merrick, the Victory made the final 3 out of 6 years…and won 2 out of 6.

            That’s an unbelievable record.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 5:18pm
              Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 8th 2012 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

              Unless you are a SFC supporter you wouldn’t understand.. You would not have Merrick anywhere near the SFS or coach of SFC … We are passionate about the ACL— where he has shown in the past he has no love for it or the challenge..

        • May 8th 2012 @ 9:15am
          Jonno said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          I don’t know, maybe it says a lot about the club rather than Arnie, if he did have demands, perhaps they were of a football nature and if the club didn’t support him why would he want to go there. He is used to a club that on a small budget is run well from their development, community focus to their success. Sydney have not done a great job and have made some bad decision in these vital areas Good on you Arnie and good luck!

      • May 8th 2012 @ 8:47am
        Chop said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Maybe because the Central Coast are building a club from the ground up and engaging the community and creating a positive environment and Sydney FC have had more coaches than seasons in the HAL and Central Coast have had 2.

        Maybe because the fans of Central Coast are not gunning for sackings after 2 defeats in a row.

        Maybe it’s because Arnold knows he’s valued and respected there and in Sydney it’s premiership or sacking.

        Any reason is a good one and congratulations to him for staying.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 8:59am
          Titus said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          Yeah well, hopefully that Russian money comes through……and keeps Arnold and his ego happy.

          • May 8th 2012 @ 9:03am
            Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

            I think everybody is happy with this decision. SFC fans didn’t gel with the idea of Arnie as coach after years of deriding the ‘ sea bogans’ as boring. Mariners fans think Arnie is close to deity like despite his inability to land he big prize. On that topic, fans of other clubs can look forward to more choking jokes come next season’s final series:)
            Arnie gets his pay-rise. It appears to be a win all around.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 9:15am
              Titus said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

              I am extremely happy, I don’t like Arnold and I don’t like his football.

              I am a little concerned that we chased him so hard in the first place and that we seem to have no back-up plan at a time when we should be building our squad.

              • May 8th 2012 @ 10:43am
                super G said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                The cupboard is pretty empty on the local scene however Titus. Miron Bleiberg…..mmmaybe?
                Looks like we have to go O/S again. But the board really needs to do their homework this time. I want a long term appointment and stability at SFC.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:14am
        totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        merrick was thrown out because he plays rubbish football. the big teams klike sydney and melbourne can’t just win, they have to play well and entertain. for teams like ccm, winning is enough.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 11:33am
          whiskeymac said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Yeah their standards are so low compared to the big teams that all they can look forward to is winning games. The poor provincials have surely been made to endure in these last few seasons a game that is a poor cousin to the jogo bonito dished up by VL and the past three MV coaches. There is no true substance to finals football 6 out of 7 times, ACL three times (or will be), a few finals and a couple of premier plates. The plaudits given to the game now played by CCM under Arnie are surely a case of mistaken identity as, for teams like CCM, winning and winning well is far too much for them to consider. Such plaudits surely must be reserved for the big 2 teams only. Surely!

          However, I humbly submit that such a meek ambition (to win a game) is enough to generate entertainment and pride, even compared to Real Sydney and Bayern Melbourne’s records and glittering past. I mean considering that the comp is not even 8 years old what other history is there yet to truly fall back on but that of winning titles, plates, comps. When one reflects back the last time SFC actually played entertaining football was in a friendly against Beckham’s Galaxy; and under Ernie MV in seasons 2 etc were, at that time, the old Roar and very watchable but less so since? Was SFC’s double not “enough” because they played with too much organisation and not enough flair in that season?

          • May 8th 2012 @ 12:26pm
            totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

            the reason winning is enough for supporters of teams like ccm is that their supporters lack culture and education. this is indicative of the region itself. the fact that their ground plays host to junior rugby league matches says it all.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 1:34pm
              whiskeymac said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

              indeed. thank god SFC’s homeground doesnt suffer the same – it has union AND league to share with.

              • May 8th 2012 @ 1:41pm
                totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                it was the level rather than the code i was referring to. this reflecting the quality of the ground. mutton dressed as lamb to say the least.

              • May 8th 2012 @ 2:13pm
                whiskeymac said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                mutton dressed as lamb would suggest that the team flatters to deceive wouldnt it? I mean the expression is used to describe an older lady dressing up to imitate a younger one. How so can you extend this to the CCM? They seem to me to be quite an honest and upfront team – they dont pretend to be something other than what they are. I also cant see how it works for an inanimate stadium and some turf – the quality of the pitch has been shocking at times but so have many others – concerts and the like have wrecked havoc on just about all stadia connected with an Aleague team. Just ask Eminem. Bluetongue is a good little stadium. The pitch needs work – but this can be corrected.
                Curious to hear what do you think of the Centre of Excellence plans “totti”?

              • May 8th 2012 @ 2:54pm
                totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                i was referring to the prissy ’boutique stadium’ that camouflages the heap of a ground that hasn’t improved since i played an under 13 grand final there in the early 80’s. it looked like a war zone when it was called graham park and it still does now it has a more aesthetically pleasing name. centre of excellence? thats been on the agenda for years. just like the russians. ccm’s are living infairy land in more ways than one. once singo, who couldn’t give two hoots about soccer, gives it away you’ll have no stadium, no sponsor and no club, and the mythical centre of excellence will revert to what it once was, ie, an orienteering track for school students.

              • May 8th 2012 @ 3:14pm
                Midfielder said | May 8th 2012 @ 3:14pm | ! Report


                You need up dating on the COE … it is coming along very nicely …. very very nicely … suggest next time you up that way you pop in and have a look …. around the end of October this year it will be well advanced with one of the new building opened…

              • May 8th 2012 @ 3:28pm
                totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                ONE new building opened? how many years has that taken? what about a playing field, have you got one of those yet?

              • May 8th 2012 @ 4:14pm
                Midfielder said | May 8th 2012 @ 4:14pm | ! Report


                Its the latest building opened as I said go and have a look at the COE …. by late October the Mariners will have the best training facilities of any code in Australia…. I don’t mind people having a go at us but for heavens sake the COE is good for football in Australia not only the Mariners…

                A link from the Mariners fan forum for you… …. go down and find the post from ADZ for details…. also look to page 35 for the drawings…

                Due for completion in August 2013… on schedule to date or the revised schedule which changed essentially the extent of it … added some things and took some things off…

                Totti the COE will be a major asset for football in Australia not only the Mariners…

    • May 8th 2012 @ 8:23am
      Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Courier Fail reports Rado Vidosic is asking for a 5yr contract. As an AU fan, there was more to go on (results-wise) with offering Rini Coolen a 4 year deal in 2010-11 – and we saw how that turned out. What experience does RV have as a top level manager?
      The HAL was designed with bringing talent through on the pitch but it is good that we have some talent coming through in the suits. One day ultimately it would be nice to have an Aussie back in charge of the National team.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 8:26am
        Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        And from Foster this morning:
        Craig Foster ‏ @Craig_Foster Arnold, Ange, Popa, Aloisi, Rado – very, very pleased with coaching lineup for next season – all highly educated

      • May 8th 2012 @ 8:32am
        Bondy said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        I think the whole of Australian Football felt the Coolen situation, I dont think anytime soon there will be too many H.A.L. clubs signing a coach from France Holland or Belgium and saying heres 400,000 a year , heres the club all yours do what you want . We must as a sport look and learn .

        • May 8th 2012 @ 8:35am
          Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          Bondy I’m hopeful that’s evidence of the maturation of the domestic football scene in this country. No more/ or at least just less cultural cringe “Oh you’re Dutch, Slavic, English etc, you must know more about this caper than us silly Antipodes – please have all the control” and do as you will.

          • May 8th 2012 @ 9:26am
            Jonno said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

            The Coolen situation was ridiculous but no more so than the influence on other clubs to bring in foreign coaches who also failed to perform better than most of our local coaches. Haha at Foster, highly educated the coaches might be but that has been proven by all the foreign coaches and the success at the ACL this year, not to be a guarantee for successful coaching.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 9:54am
              whiskeymac said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

              4 year contract for a HAL club was along time… but does anyone know what the average might be universally for these types of appointments? coaches seem to get the chop all the time – what security do they get outside being paid out?

        • May 8th 2012 @ 10:12am
          totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          “I think the whole of Australian Football felt the Coolen situation”…

          don’t think so. victory were on the verge of signing magilton until ange stepped in.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 9:46am
      whiskeymac said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      SFC is still going through ts restructure despite having known for months that VL was gone. Am sure they will get someone soon but it means they are still behind on recruitment and retention of players for next season. NJ and GVE have already started to make up for their “distraction” with some interesting signings. If Arnie gets the transfer money he wants, and MH are up and running again then its all going to be that much harder for SFC to get who they want (or at least at the price they want) domestically you’d think. Poor governance not to have a few candidates up their sleeves… not surprising seeing the clubs history, maybe with one master the problem child will finally be properly trained.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 9:52am
      pete4 said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      I would like to see Frank Farina at West Sydney. Former Socceroo coach (ex Marconi boy) who’s great in the media eye… I think he could do lots to help promote the club

      • May 8th 2012 @ 9:54am
        Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Has he sobered up yet?

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:03am
        Titus said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        The only Australian(based) coach available who could fill the role is Blieberg. Mulvey is an interesting prospect, probably better option than Arnold but lacking the experience.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 10:05am
          Kasey said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          Blieberg’s personality would also help generate headlines in the crowded Media space of Sydney. Surprised he hasn’t been approached already tbh.

          • May 8th 2012 @ 10:48am
            super G said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            I have a feeling Miron will have a head coach gig by the time next season starts. West Sydney looks likely or perhaps SFC.

            • May 8th 2012 @ 2:14pm
              Realfootball said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

              Having seen Bleiberg now at 2 local clubs, my judgement – amateur though informed – is that Bleiberg is much more skilled at publicity than coaching. He is a limited and erratic tactician, and his struggles to reign in his more wayward players (notably Culina) at GCH was obvious from the sidelines.

              Bleiberg is a terrific TV pundit. He should stay there.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 6:07pm
          Ballymore said | May 8th 2012 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

          Bleiberg has experience in starting two clubs from scratch.

    • Roar Guru

      May 8th 2012 @ 10:02am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      If SFC are after a coach, who can develop youngsters, work with experienced players & understands the HAL they should immediately get on the phone to Mike Mulvey.

      In the short history of the HAL, Mulvey has developed the most successful group of talented young footballers, who are technically-proficient, tactically-smart & physically-capable.

      I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mulvey’s style of football.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 2:15pm
        Realfootball said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

        Agree. But he doesn’t have the profile the club thinks they need. Can’t see the appointment going to a local.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 10:08am
      totti said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      “A manager who has essentially thrived on playing the role of underdog, creating a siege mentality and setting his formation out in a difficult to break down 4-4-2 diamond, Arnold would have had to show a bit more at Sydney.”

      nice work tony. thats the crux of the matter as was evident with the national team. arnold isn’t up to it. at ccm he has found his level.

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