Graham Arnold vowed not to get under the feet of current Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk as he was named as the Dutchman’s long-term successor yesterday, to take charge after the World Cup.
The Sydney FC coach was one of the main candidates to replace Ange Postecoglou, who quit in November after the Socceroos beat Honduras in an intercontinental play-off to qualify for Russia 2018.
But “Arnie”, a former Socceroos caretaker boss, wanted to see out his contract with the A-League side and ruled himself out of contention.
Instead Van Marwijk, who took the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, was appointed in January on a five-month contract.
“It is a very great honour to coach your national team. It’s a job I have always been interested in doing and I believe the timing is perfect for me,” said Arnold, a former striker who played for Australia 56 times.
He added that he will be making no further comment until after the World Cup “out of respect for Sydney FC and out of respect for Bert van Marwijk”.
“I said at the time that I thought he (van Marwijk) was a great appointment to lead the Socceroos in Russia and everything he has done since has reinforced that view,” he said.
“I won’t be getting under his feet but I will be cheering him and the team on from the stands.”
The Socceroos have been drawn in Group C of the World Cup together with France, Denmark and Peru, with their first game against Les Bleus on June 16.
Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy said Arnold had been hired on four-year deal.
“Arnie is clearly in our opinion the best person for the job, not just the best Australian but the best person for the job,” he said.
“His pedigree as a footballer and as a coach of the Socceroos themselves some years ago, but his success more recently with both the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC has clearly given Arnie the right to be put forward for the job.”
Sydney-born Arnold, 54, has experience at international level, having previously worked as an assistant to former Socceroos coach Frank Farina between 2000-2005 and then under Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek.
He managed the team during the 2007 Asian Cup in a caretaker role for 12 months, making the quarter-finals, after Hiddink left following the 2006 World Cup in Germany and before Verbeek took over.
Arnold stayed on as Verbeek’s assistant, including at the 2010 World Cup, before being appointed coach of the Central Coast Mariners, where he spent three years and led them to the championship in 2013.
More recently he has been in charge at Sydney, guiding them to the title last season, with the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE his first major tournament back in charge of Australia, with the ultimate aim being qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Lowy said making a temporary appointment for Russia and then a longer-term one was how FFA felt was the best way forward after Postecoglou’s sudden departure.
“We developed a set of criteria for the role with the help of three distinguished former Socceroos — Mark Schwarzer, Stan Lazaridis and Mark Bresciano — and our own experienced staff,” he said.
“Based on that we decided to appoint the best person for the 2018 World Cup and the best person to lead the Socceroos for the long term after this year’s tournament.”
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