Heading overseas: Graham Arnold could have played his last game for the Central Coast Mariners. Photo: Getty Images
Graham Arnold’s tenure as coach of the Central Coast Mariners is to come to an abrupt end after the club granted him permission to pursue a move to a top-tier Japanese club.
The Mariners on Wednesday confirmed they had received an approach from a high-profile Asian club. Fairfax Media understands that J-League club Vegalta Sendai are the front-runners to land the signature of Arnold.
Vegalta are looking for a replacement for outbound coach Makoto Teguramori, who steered Vegalta to promotion to the J-League 1 in 2009 and guided them to a shock runners-up finish last year, after the 45-year-old was recently appointed as the new head coach of Japan’s under-21 and Olympic team as of next year.
Graham Arnold found success with the Mariners despite limited resources. Photo: Getty Images
The J-League side is understood to have offered the vacant position to Arnold, who will travel to Japan this week to finalise the deal.
The Mariners have confirmed they expect the 50-year-old tactician to agree to terms with the Asian club and believe he has already coached his last game with the A-League champions.
Arnold has publicly stated his desire to further his coaching career overseas and although he signed a long-term contract extension with the Mariners before the start of the A-League season, he did so only on the proviso that he had a release clause allowing him to move to a larger club in Asia or in Europe.
Arnold’s impending Japanese trip to negotiate the move will not cause any immediate disruption to the Mariners, who do not play this weekend as their round-seven fixture against Wellington Phoenix is scheduled for December 19 due to New Zealand’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico.
Should Arnold sign for the club in the J-League, Mariners assistant coach Phil Moss will be promoted to the role of head coach. He has spent more than three years as assistant coach.
Mariners group general manager Peter Turnbull said the club had been working on a succession plan for Arnold’s departure.
“The success of our club over the past three seasons under Graham Arnold and his staff always meant Graham would receive interest from rival Hyundai A-League and foreign clubs,” Turnbull said.
“As such, we have been planning for the past 18 months for Phil [Moss] to take on the role of head coach of the club upon Graham’s departure. Of course, Graham has been helping prepare Phil for the position.”
Moss joined the Mariners in 2010 after previously being the head coach of NSW Premier League club Manly United for six years.
Moss was also a former teammate of Arnold at Northern Spirit in the now defunct National Soccer League and will take charge of the Mariners’ training session in the absence of Arnold later this week.
Arnold’s expected departure continues the rising stock of Australian coaches as it represents the second high-profile managerial exit in the A-League in just weeks. Ange Postecoglou coached his last game at Melbourne Victory two weeks ago before signing a five-year deal to lead the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil and through the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia.
While Arnold narrowly missed out on the appointment for the Socceroos job, he is set to become the first local coach to progress from the A-League to a top club in Asia.