FFA Cup final coach focus: Sydney FC

With mentors like the great Guus Hiddink and rugby league master coach Wayne Bennett, it’s no wonder Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold has had so much success as a manager.

The 53-year-old is just one win away from landing his first piece of silverware with the Sky Blues in this month’s Westfield FFA Cup final against Melbourne City at AAMI Park on November 30. 

Sydney FC has gone six years without winning a trophy and Arnold has made it his mission to end the drought. 

Arnie’s strength as a coach comes from his ability to build a powerful culture among his players, due in large part to his excellent man-management skills. 

He loves to develop and give young players a chance, with the likes of Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Bernie Ibini and Mustafa Amini given their starts in the Hyundai A-League by him.

Graham Arnold

And he takes it upon himself to get to know every one of his players, which breeds a real family feel within his squads.

It’s something we saw in abundance during his time at the Central Coast Mariners in his first job in the Hyundai A-League.

Arnold turned the club that punched above their weight but were perennial bridesmaids into winners.

In three seasons at the club he won a Championship and a Premiers’ Plate, as well as another grand final appearance in THAT decider against Brisbane Roar.

The way he was able to pick his squad up after the heartbreak of the 2011 grand final to come back and win it all just two years later shows that he is a coach to be reckoned with.

Graham Arnold

But success didn’t come immediately for Arnold and he had to come through the school of hard knocks in his early years of management to get where he is now.

He made the change from player to coach almost 20 years ago, with his first job as a senior boss as player coach in the old National Soccer League with Northern Spirit.

While he guided the new club to the finals in his first season in charge, the club couldn’t carry on that success as he relinquished his role after two years.

A long stint as assistant of the Socceroos followed and it was here he got to learn from Dutch master Guus Hiddink during Australia’s march to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Graham Arnold

Arnold’s time as fill-in Socceroos boss at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup and his short stint as coach of the Olyroos ultimately ended in disappointment but battle-hardened him for the future.

So when he got his chance in the Hyundai A-League with the Mariners, he was well-equipped to handle the demands of professional coaching.

And he does it superbly. It’s no wonder there’s reported interest from clubs in Europe for his services.

And he’d love nothing more than to finally deliver silverware to the Sky Blues on Cup Final night in Melbourne on November 30.

FFA Cup Final 2016