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Should Graham Arnold continue leading the Socceroos?

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22nd December, 2022

I have no shame in expressing that I didn’t predict Graham Arnold to succeed as much as he did in Qatar. In fact, I thought he should’ve been let go if Australia weren’t able to book their spot at the 2022 World Cup.

In a classic twist of fate, the narrative around his future has shifted from real concern to sudden optimism following the Socceroos success at the 2022 World Cup.

He certainly proved me and many other Australian fans wrong.

To the 59-year-old’s credit, he stuck to his guns through a very difficult World Cup qualifying campaign to ultimately achieve milestones that had not been accomplished by any other Socceroos squad on the biggest international sporting stage.

Arnold was able to guide the Aussies to their first-ever clean sheets, claim two group stage victories and score in every match they played in – all these achievements hold incredible value and importance in their World Cup history.

Despite those successes, there’s still part of me that believes the Socceroos could benefit from a culture change.

We all know that Arnold will hold key talks with Football Australia (FA) about his future soon.

Those conversations will be crucial and will no doubt shape the direction of Australian football heading into the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and 2026 World Cup.


(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

So, is Arnold the right man for the job? Or has he taken the Socceroos as far as he can over the past four years?

The former Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC manager has no doubt had an influential presence in the Socceroos system first as a player then manager – stretching to a near incredible 40 years.

You can’t help but feel Arnold finally got the respect he deserved after the World Cup, which is a little bit disappointing when you consider how long and hard he has worked to earn it.

He knows A-League talent better than anyone and that was decorated with his seven selections for Qatar – equaling the record for Australia at a World Cup since Brazil 2014 under Ange Postecoglou.

His ability to manage the squad brilliantly through to the Round of 16 stage – only the second time in Australia’s history – showed he got way more out of the playing group than a lot of people had foreseen.


Arnold has certainly earned the right to lead the country going forward. But is that what I and the majority of Australian football fans want? I’m not so sure.

I’ve always believed in the idea of a European coach being the best fit for the Socceroos. You just need to draw on the huge influence Arnold’s long-time friend and mentor Guus Hiddink built for Australian football.

While European knowledge of Australian football may be a little flawed compared to Australian managers, I believe having that European influence on our football is the way to go.

Hiddink was the first manager that got Australians believing they could perform on the world stage and undoubtedly managed the best Socceroos squad we’ve ever seen when they qualified for the Round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

However, in the same breath, I recognise European coaches haven’t always worked out for the Socceroos. I also see why having a homegrown manager is more beneficial to the development of talent in this country. In a general sense, those European managers after Hiddink’s time weren’t able to steer the Socceroos in the right direction.

Now we wait and see what the future holds for the Socceroos.