SYDNEY (AFP) – Graham Arnold and hardman Kevin Muscat were named as potential Australia coaches yesterday after Ange Postecoglou failed to allay fears he’ll quit even if the Socceroos qualify for the World Cup.
Postecoglou declined to confirm or deny reports Wednesday that he planned to walk, either before or after the Socceroos face Honduras in a critical home-and-away play-off next month for a place at the 2018 Russia tournament.
Local reports said Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop was one of those unaware of Postecoglou’s intentions before the reports broke, leaving him furious as he scrambled to find out the facts.
The Australian newspaper said Postecoglou had become increasingly restless, fed up with criticism from the media and public after a string of mediocre results, and wanted to get back into club coaching overseas.
It said a lucrative deal with a Chinese Super League club opened up for him several months ago, but it fell through.
Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi told reporters yesterday he’d be surprised if criticism had driven his close friend and mentor to consider leaving.
“He must have his reasons. That’s all I can say,” Aloisi said. “Everyone wants to go to a World Cup as a player, as a coach, so he must have his reasons why.
“It’s a bit of a shock. But still, we haven’t heard if it’s 100 per cent true or not.”
Sydney FC coach Arnold, seen as a frontrunner for his second stint with the Socceroos, said it was “not real” until Postecoglou himself confirmed he was leaving.
“I haven’t read anything or seen anything where Ange has come out and said that (he’s leaving),” Arnold said.
“So at the moment, I think it’s not innuendo, but it’s not real.”
Veteran striker Tim Cahill said he was disappointed the story was overshadowing the Socceroos’ 2-1 win against Syria this week that set up the Honduras clash.
“It is just speculation,” said the 37-year-old, who scored both goals in the extra-time win.
“I feel that this angle, the day after the biggest game in Australian football to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup, is not needed. Especially now.”
Along with Arnold, Melbourne Victory coach Muscat is considered a potential candidate, but the lure of taking a team to the World Cup would probably attract high-profile overseas candidates.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the FFA had a seven-figure budget to hire the right man, should they qualify for Russia.
Those already linked to the job include Iran coach Carlos Queiroz and Italian Gianni De Biasi, who was previously approached about taking over, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Portugal’s Queiroz, a former assistant coach at Manchester United, helped Iran qualify for Russia with room to spare, while De Biasi is at Spain’s Deportivo Alaves after six years with Albania.
Australia have had foreign coaches in the past, including Dutchmen Pim Verbeek and Guus Hiddink, along with Germany’s Holger Osieck.
Postecoglou took over after Osieck’s sacking in 2013, and signed a five-year contract that is due to expire after next year’s World Cup.
Under the former Brisbane Roar coach, Australia exited the 2014 World Cup at the group stage but they lifted the Asian Cup, their first major trophy, the following year.