Graham Arnold was back in Gosford on Thursday and spoke to reporters about his decision to leave Central Coast Mariners after three years and join J-League club Vegalta Sendai. While it was widely known that Arnold was seeking employment overseas, and that he was courted by Sheffield United and Guangzhou R&F during the A-League offseason, the former Mariners and Socceroos manager had not previously detailed his thought process so explicitly. While he touched on many subjects in nearly twelve minutes of answering questions, the biggest impression is that he no longer felt challenged in the A-League and needed external motivation.
Here are several excerpts from Arnold's chat with the media, as provided by the club in an email press release:
"It might be a bit strange in a certain way...life on the coast is fantastic. I had a three-year contract and I could have been very happy living here and working here for another three years. But I've always been a person that wants and needs a challenge. I was successful with the club and the players and my staff to be rewarded with what we wanted to do with winning the Grand Final and winning the competition here. I do believe that a lot of things happen for a reason and that timing is crucial. I just felt the timing of this move was perfect.
"I gave everything that I possibly could give to the Central Coast Mariners over the three years that I was here. The players were brilliant for me over those three years and we helped develop some Socceroos. So I felt that when this offer come, I just felt like the challenge was what I needed. I went over there for four days, five days, and I could feel the intensity coming back. I could feel the desire of wanting to be successful and prove myself again, overseas.
"It's going to be a massive challenge. The language barrier, getting the message across is going to be difficult. But to go to a totally different culture and in a very, very strong league is going to test me enormously and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"I haven't even spoken to the players yet because I wanted to stay away from them this week. Last week they were probably in a little bit of shock when it came out that I was leaving. And Phil Moss is their manager now. Phil is going to do a great job with a wonderful group of players and great guys. They didn't need me to come in and disrupt their week this week. I'll approach them and address them over time. I'm here for another seven weeks.
"Since I've been at the Mariners I've let ten or eleven players go and sold them overseas and helped them move on in their careers. Two or three boys I let go to China in John Hutchinson, Adam Kwasnik and Daniel McBreen in the offseason to earn a good wage and to help them with their lives off the field. And they came back to us. The boys totally understand, and I know they do understand that there was always a time that I may leave. I don't think I've hidden at any time my desire to go overseas. I've been very open and I had a clause in my contract. The club knew that I could go overseas at any time. It nearly happened last offseason. And I wasn't prepared to go just anywhere. This offer is to a fantastic club in Sendai, a very good football club with the same kind of culture as the Mariners. A lot of things are similar about the club, it's more of a community club, and it was just too good to refuse. I know the players, they might be disappointed but they also know it's reality and it's my turn."
Moss will debut as Mariners manager when Central Coast travel to Perth to play the Glory this weekend. Arnold indicated that he will attend every home game before he moves permanently to Japan to begin his first season in the J-League since he played at Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the 1997/98 season.