With Dutchman van Marwijk buckled up on his fly-in, fly-out mission to deliver results at the World Cup in Russia in just over four months, Sydney FC coach Arnold will take the mantle on a multi-year deal post-Russia heading towards next January’s AFC Asian Cup in the UAE, and beyond.
The 54-year-old’s emergence as the chosen one in FFA’s carefully crafted succession plan is well known, though the timing of the official announcement may not be to the liking of Sydney, as he pilots the runaway leaders towards a second successive A-League premiership-title double.
Sky Blues chiefs, while reluctant to lose their super coach, are unwilling to stymie Arnold’s desire for a second crack at the Australia job, despite him being contracted until the end of next season.
Luke Casserly, FFA’s head of national performance and at the heart of the van Marwijk recruitment process, said he was “not in a position to comment” when asked if he could confirm Arnold’s impending unveiling.
It’s understood that former Socceroo and current Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon has already been earmarked as a potential replacement at Allianz Stadium, along with ex-Western Sydney Wanderers mentor Tony Popovic.
Okon’s Mariners are languishing second last on the ladder, but Sydney believe that at a better resourced club his coaching kudos and credentials will bear far greater fruit.
Okon, 45, has yet to be offered a contract extension by the Mariners, potentially simplifying a potential switch back to his hometown for possibly the A-League’s most coveted coaching position.
Popovic, despite his impressive A-League track record, is seen as a longer shot, for two reasons.
Firstly, the man sacked by Turkish club Karabükspor after just nine games in December is viewed by a section of the Sydney hierarchy as a controversial option due to his past life coaching the club’s mortal enemies.
Secondly, he famously earned in excess of $1 million annually with the Wanderers, and Sydney have a pay ceiling of around $450,000 for Arnold’s successor.
Popovic has also been touted for a possible assistant manager’s role in England, after his previous incarnation as the No.2 at Crystal Palace under Dougie Freedman back in 2011.
He has also been eyeing the J-League, where he distinguished himself as a player with Sanfrecce Hiroshima, as a possible destination.