Sydney (AFP) – Graham Arnold and hardman Kevin Muscat were named as potential Australia coaches on Thursday 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 Thursday 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 percent true or not.”
– ‘It’s not innuendo’ –
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 soccer 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.