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Arnold reveals 2007 Neill, Aloisi rift

Incoming Socceroos coach Graham Arnold admitted he did not deserve the national job in 2007 that put him offside with FIFA World Cup stalwarts Lucas Neill and John Aloisi and urged fans not to judge him on the ill-fated AFC Asian Cup campaign.

Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold, right, during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Source: Getty Images

Arnold was in charge of the Socceroos side that stuttered to the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup. It was a position he admits he did not deserve.

Arnold's appointment as Socceroos coach for the next four years was not met with universal approval and the 55-year-old vowed to do his utmost to win over the sceptics.

"I'm here to do my best and I respect all the fans," Arnold said after his first press conference as national coach.

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"The Asian Cup was a long time ago and I have learned from my mistakes so fans should not judge me on 2007.



"I did not deserve to be coach back then ... it was a job I inherited and which I did not really want. I was Olympic coach at the time and I helped the organisation out until a new coach was found to replace Guus Hiddink.

"I can tell you that Neill, Aloisi and those guys did not respect me at the time.

"But they do now because they know I've travelled the world and learned a lot of lessons. People in all walks of life make mistakes but that was 11 years ago and I have improved as a coach and a person.

"And regarding the fans (who might have been sceptical about my appointment) it is my job to change their minds and make sure they're happy. I do not have any fear of that.

"I mixed with a lot of fans in Russia during the World Cup which was something I enjoyed very much. They probably saw a different side of me."

The concern among those that opposed Arnold's appointment may stem from the fact that Arnold is seen as a pragmatic coach who will make sure his teams do not lose a match before they try to win it.

Arnold, who has won two A-League championships with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC, defended his tactical mentality vehemently, saying he's "a cross between (defensive) Bert van Marwijk and (attacking) Ange Postecoglou".

"I'm a winner. I have principles and they are all designed to win," he explained.

"Statistics around the world show that the winning teams are those with the best defensive records.

"If you look at the A-League records you will see that the Mariners and Sky Blues had the best defensive record when they won the title.

"It's a cliche but the best form of defence is attack but it is also true that you will need to know how to defend when you have an off-day."


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3 min read
Published 9 August 2018 at 1:39pm
By Philip Micallef