“I’ll be back” is one of the great movie lines uttered by Arnold Schwarzenegger and it is a question that may well need to be asked about Central Coast Mariners’ coach Graham Arnold.
There were many who felt that Arnold did not deserve to be the assistant coach of the Socceroos for ten years, although he was of course coach for the Asian Cup in 2007, but life is about taking opportunities and whether he deserved the opportunity or not he has used it to better himself as a coach, of that there can be no doubt. It also highlights a very important fact, which is we need to develop Australian coaches to grow the game here.
Arnold has show this season at the Central Coast Mariners that he has learned a great deal from working alongside Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek. Many Australian football fans have been critical of Verbeek’s tactics during his tenure, but it would appear that his adapting to situations to ensure a result has not been lost on Arnold. Let us hope that Robbie Hooker and Aurelio Vidmar benefit equally from their roles as assistant to Holger Osciek.
Arnold made a revealing comment following his side’s victory over Perth Glory last week, stating that he had deliberately chosen a younger side to play the Glory in the middle of a busy fixture schedule, because younger bodies cope with the travel better than older ones. It was a gamble that paid rich dividends, despite being unable to kill the Glory off, his youngsters kept running and never allowed the Glory a share of the spoils.
It also highlighted a problem that the Perth Glory have had, a poor record on the road. In recent years their squad has involved a large number of players over 30, some closer to 35, and they have struggled away from home. There is no doubt they need a younger more mobile squad next season if they are to compete at the top end of the league, but would this help their away form.
There is no doubt Arnold has shown he has matured immensely as a coach this season, and that his confidence has grown from his formative years in the old NSL.
The late Sir Bobby Robson said after he had left the England job, and had immense success with PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon and Porto, that he felt better equipped now to return as England Manager, following the departure of Terry Venables. The English FA felt otherwise and appointed Glen Hoddle.
Maybe Arnold should not be discounted returning to the top job, if he can build on what he has achieved this season, show his ability to bring through young talent, and handle himself in the manner with which he has this season. He certainly would deserve to be considered.