Graham Arnold has completed his first press conference as coach of Australia’s national football side, with the biggest news being that he and his newly-introduced assistants will also coach the under-23 Olyroos team.
Claiming to have asked roughly ten members of Australia’s 2006 World Cup – “the golden generation” – about the most important part of their development, he said the resounding reply was consistency in coaching from their under-23 level to their fully fledged professional careers.
The former Mariners and Sydney FC coach stressed the dual appointment wouldn’t distract him from his ultimate goal of leading Australia to the next World Cup, where he said he’s “expecting to win games”.
Of the newly-unveiled assistants, René Meulensteen is the most prolific name of the bunch, with the Dutch assistant having previously been Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man during the Manchester United. He has long been lauded as one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s most important early influences.
Joining Arnold at the helm of the Socceroos will be Andrew Clark, his sports science coordinator from Sydney FC, physiotherapy coordinator Phil Coles, who performed the same role during Arnold’s previous stint as Socceroos coach, and senior technical analyst Doug Kors.
Arnold paid tribute to Australia’s most recent coaches, Ange Postecoglou and Bert van Marwijk, saying they had both been “great” for the team, while declaring himself as being “in between” the two in terms of coaching style.
The new head coach was bullish about Australia’s future at several times in the press conference, claiming the country had the same calibre of players as many of the world’s top nations.
Citing South Korea and Japan’s strong World Cup performances he said there was no reason Australia – current AFC champions – couldn’t match those efforts in Qatar.
“Everyone talked about our commitment [being] great and the discipline [being] great – that’s the least I expect,” he said.
“When you put on that green and gold shirt which, for me, is the most powerful shirt in the world of sport … that’s the least expected [of you]. Then it comes down to what’s next.”
Arnold’s first big test will be in January, when Socceroos will defend their Asian Cup title.