Arnie exit leaves Sydney with big choices

As one door closes another opens for Sydney FC's Socceroos coach-in-waiting Graham Arnold.
As one door closes another opens for Sydney FC's Socceroos coach-in-waiting Graham Arnold.

Sydney FC will cast the net far and wide for a new coach but could end up with an option much closer to home, at least in the short term.

Confirmation of Graham Arnold's departure at the end of the A-League season has not only left the Sky Blues without their title-winning coach, but facing a conundrum going forward.

With many members of the first team either re-signed for next season or close to doing so, the club may be reluctant to depart from Arnold's tried-and-tested playing style.

Should the board and chief executive Danny Townsend opt for an initial short-term appointment, assistant coach Steve Corica shapes as a strong interim contender.

Beyond that a foreign coach could be a possibility for a major rebuild to coincide with the potential departures of marquees Bobo and Milos Ninkovic, among others - captain Alex Brosque, David Carney and Luke Wilkshire could exit sooner.

Searching overseas might also help bring the ambitious Sky Blues up to speed with Asia's rapidly improving landscape, having been dealt a cruel wake-up call in the Asian Champions League group stage.

Locally, the presence of former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic and goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac at Sydney's ACL loss to Kashima Antlers on Wednesday night cannot be ignored.

While the pair have both held coaching roles at Sydney before, a cross-town move would be tough to swallow for both sets of fans, in particular the Wanderers, who lost them on the eve of this season for an ill-fated stint in Turkey.

Other contenders could include Central Coast coach Paul Okon and Matildas coach Alen Stajcic.

Whoever it may be, chairman Scott Barlow anticipated an appointment within the next two months.

"Some weeks ago we began the process to find a coach who will fit into our club's culture and football philosophy, and who will build on the foundations of success we have in place," Barlow said.

"We will be looking internally within the club, across Australia and around the world before making a decision, and expect to make an announcement by the end of May."

Barlow conceded losing Arnold was a blow despite the long-term Socceroos coach's guarantee he remains solely focused on guiding Sydney to back-to-back A-League titles before taking up his national-team post.

"To be blunt, we didn't want Graham to leave and we offered him a substantially bigger and longer contract to stay," Barlow said.

"But the lure of coaching his country has ultimately proven too much and, having complied with the terms of his contract, we would not stand in his way."

Australian Associated Press