Going by social media reaction, it is clear that plenty of Australians have not yet forgotten about the Socceroos’ failed 2007 Asian Cup campaign.
After such a fruitful year previous, the Green and Gold were bundled out of that tournament prematurely by Japan at the quarter-final stages in Vietnam.
All that came about with Graham Arnold at the helm, at the time in the midst of his first spell as a national team manager, let alone Australia.
Eleven years later and Arnold is set to retake the helm, when he will become Ange Postecoglou’s full-time successor after the World Cup in Russia; there, Bert van Marwijk will lead.
Australian football’s best kept secret was finally confirmed on Thursday when FFA announced Arnold is to take over until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, bringing to an end a hugely successful reign at Sydney FC.
Arnold assembled one of Australia’s great football teams with the Sky Blues, winning a premiership and a championship – on the brink of repeating both feats before moving on – and losing just two A-League games in nearly two seasons.
That was the perfect way to respond from a brief but failed stint in Japan with Vegalta Sendai, where Arnold lasted just a few months before a fairly downbeat axing.
But for that negative there is another positive: championship glory with Central Coast Mariners, who finally claimed a maiden toilet seat at the fourth time of asking in 2013.
In stepping up to his new task, Arnold hopes to carry on what has been left behind by one-time adversary Ange Postecoglou.
“You learn from mistakes as a coach and obviously I’ve made plenty, but I am a person that learns,” he told a packed media conference.
“My strengths are man management and attention to detail. When you have great support around you, everything’s possible and I feel that I will have that.
“I want to carry on Ange’s legacy of being proud Australians, and every time you pull on an Australia shirt, you’re playing for the nation … that’s the big part of Ange’s legacy I want to carry on.”
Ever since Postecoglou resigned late last year, FFA and CEO David Gallop have been steadfast in their belief that an Australian should be the long-term successor to Postecoglou.
When considering the options, FFA have made the right choice. Much of our local crop of coaches is simply too young for such a duty, still with plenty to prove; Kevin Muscat, Paul Okon and Tony Popovic come to mind.
Of those names, only the currently unemployed Popovic challenges Arnold.
“I’m personally really pleased that it is an Australian and as Arnie said, someone who understands what it means to the country to wear the green and gold,” Gallop said.
“But top of the tree has got to be the fact that he’s got proven success as a football coach.
“The next four years will be fascinating for us all to watch because we know that there are players that have now played quite a lot for the Socceroos, but are still young men.
“But them coming into their prime will be something Arnie gets to work with.”
That failure in 2007 though means that to many, Arnold himself still has some redeeming to do.
The 54-year-old promised to win those doubters over and show all his learnings.
— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) March 8, 2018
“I learnt a hell of a lot from my mistakes in 2007, you can’t hide from that but I know that I’m a completely different person today, 10 years on,” Arnold added.
“I’ve learned so much in the last 10 years and I’ve got such good mentors around me that if I have any issues, I speak to those people.
“At the same time, you never stop learning … the things that aren’t right, you look back and learn lessons from it and if you don’t learn lessons from it, then there’s a problem.”
When Arnold eventally does take over, his two biggest responsibilities will be the 2019 Asian Cup, held in UAE, as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, quite possibly his final assignment.
He believes the current crop of Socceroos is ready to make an impact on the world stage.
“I expect to do great with this squad … I see a lot of great strengths in this team,” he said.
“I believe they’re at the ripe age and moving into the ripe age.”
Much before then, the Socceroos will be preparing for a foray into Russia, now just over three months away.
Preparations will be stepped up this month when they meet Norway in Oslo and Colombia in London.
After that, there is the prospect of a farewell match on home soil, which Gallop described as a “watch this space” story with an announcement due in a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow revealed the hunt for Arnold’s successor has already begun, with a call to be made just after the end of the season.
“Some weeks ago we begun 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,” he 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.”