Since joining Central Coast Mariners as manager in 2010, Graham Arnold has won the premiership, the championship and sent many of his top young players on to Europe and Asia to further their careers. Now he is doing the same. The Mariners announced on Tuesday that they were releasing their manager to seek an opportunity in Asia. Now that opportunity has been made clear as Arnold has joined J-League side Vegalta Sendai and will take over managerial duties in January.
The 50-year-old former Socceroos boss had expressed an interest in expanding his horizons over recent years, but has previously rebuffed the likes of Sheffield United in order to stay in the A-League. At Sendai, Arnold has apparently found what he was looking for. As quoted on Fox Sports Australia, Arnold explained:
"Together at the Mariners we have achieved a lot over the past three seasons. But just like players I have the determination and drive to coach at the highest level I possibly can."
"Naturally, this opportunity with Vegalta Sendai excites me. The J-League is an amazing competition with quality players, highly professional clubs, and passionate fans. I hope to help Sendai achieve success, and help pave the way for more Australian coaches to work in top leagues around the world.
"I have stated many times in the past how much I love the Mariners and love living on the Central Coast. There is an amazing culture at the club, and I know that the players, staff and management will continue working hard as they aim to achieve the goals that have been set not only for this year, but for the years to come."
After spending time in Holland and Belgium, Arnold spent a year at Sanfrecce Hiroshima as his playing career wound down. Though that was fifteen years ago, it is clear that the new Sendai manager has an affection for Japan. He will likely receive a hero's welcome in Hiroshima whenever his club travel there but in the meantime his preparations begin immediately with the J-League season coming to a close over the next few weeks. With a full offseason and pre-season ahead, Arnold will have plenty of time to familiarize himself with his new club and players, while building his brand in Japan.
At the Mariners, Phil Moss will take over immediately as manager in Gosford having been prepared for such a move for the better part of eighteen months. Knowing Arnold would eventually move on, the club and the manager himself tried to put Moss in the best possible position to handle what could be, and now is, a sudden move.