A get-out clause in his contract has allowed Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold to pursue a new option in Japan.
A get-out clause in his contract has allowed Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold to pursue a new option in Japan. Aap Images

Graham Arnold’s move to Japan shows we’re on right track

CENTRAL Coast coach Graham Arnold's move to Asia to coach in Japan is no doubt a big loss to the game in Australia.

One thing his two-year deal to coach J-League club Vegalta Sendai illustrates, however, is that at last Australian coaches are getting recognition for the work they are doing at a local level.

You only have to look at the three candidates for the recent Socceroos coaching vacancy to see just how highly Australian coaches are rated.

Ange Postecoglou was the winner in that three-horse race, but both Arnold and Wanderers boss Tony Popovic came to the table with high credentials and would have brought a lot to the position if selected.

Having narrowly missed out on the Socceroos role, Arnold is set to become the first Australian coach to progress from the A-League to a top club in Asia.

I am sure he won't be the last.

Arnold has been a top coach in this country since 1998, from the time of his appointment as player/manager of the Northern Spirit FC.

Eventually put in charge of the Socceroos as interim coach, he worked under Guus Hiddink when the Australians went to Germany in the 2006 World Cup.

Arnold was also in the sights of English club Sheffield United last year before finally signing a new deal with the Mariners.

In that contract, however, was a get-out clause that meant if a big Asian or European club came calling, he would be allowed to pursue his dream.

Now that opportunity has come, and I am glad the Central Coast powers that be are not standing in Arnold's way.

Of course, the Mariners will be sorry to lose a coach of Arnold's standing, but at the same time they can see just how good a chance this is for the 50-year-old and, thankfully, have sanctioned his move.

There is the chance, too, for Australian football to benefit, as Arnold will attract more notice in the football-mad world of Asia.

The more that Aussie coaches are known around the world, the better it will be for this country.

To see just what success can bring, consider the mention of rookie coach Popovic - after his team's A-League Premier's Plate triumph last season - as a candidate to take over at English Premier League club Crystal Palace.

J-League outfit Vegalta Sendai is a big club in Asia and now that Arnold has made the move, that can only be good for the Australian game.

And he succeeds in Japan, that will be even better in the long run.