A FOREIGN coach will lead the Socceroos to Russia 2018 before a local takes charge in August, in time for the Asian Cup defence in January 2019.
Former Germany and US coach Jurgen Klinsmann and 2010 World Cup finalist Bert van Marwijk have emerged as the favourites.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold confirmed an approach from Football Federation Australia. He is favourite to take the team to Qatar 2022.
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Former Ajax, Barcelona and Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, and former Chile and Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa have been touted as prospects although they appear to be long shots.
Former Croatia and West Ham coach Slaven Bilic and former Club Brugge boss Michel Preud’homme are believed to round out FFA’s shortlist.
Ex-Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has also been flagged as an option, but he is the only foreigner currently in a job – coaching Russia’s Zenit St Petersburg.
It’s understood that FFA has not made contact with City Football Group – his ex-employer and Melbourne City’s owners – regarding Mancini.
Mancini’s wage demands would almost certainly leave him out of the running.
FFA may have to lift that to get one of the highly-credentialled foreigners over the line, although van Marwijk and Bilic are understood to have relatively reasonable demands.
Bielsa is keen to take on the job until Qatar, but FFA is worried about his limited grasp of English and the number of staff he would like to employ.
Just under $1 million has been budgeted for a five-month deal, rising to $1.5 million with bonuses attached to Russia 2018 results, most likely around advancing past the group.
Ange Postecoglou was earning around $1 million a year, with bonuses attached.
There will be bonuses attached to results in Russia, most likely around advancing past the group stages.
Van Marwijk, who qualified Saudi Arabia for the 2018 World Cup ahead of Australia but couldn’t agree on a deal with the Saudi federation that requested he spend more time there, is believed to have the lowest wage demands.
It’s understood FFA is prepared to allow the new coach to remain based overseas.
Klinsmann is a favourite among FFA powerbrokers and his attacking, high-intensity style would provide continuity from the Postecoglou era.
FFA’s head of national performance Luke Casserly told SEN’s World of Football that coaching philosophy would be a key factor.
“It’s definitely a factor. We’ve clearly been on a path for the last four years and for the most part, philosophically we want to remain on that path — it’s important to us,” Casserly said.
“The bestclubs and organisations in the world … target someone that is aligned with their vision and view on how they want to see their teams play.”
Interestingly, van Marwijk was slammed by Dutch greats on the way to the 2010 World Cup final — where it lost 1-0 to Spain — for the physicality.
Bielsa is a godfather of high-octane, possession-based football, while van Gaal also prefers that style of play though he is known to adopt a horses-for-courses approach.
Arnold, who is believed to be the only Australian on the shortlist, praised the process.
“I have had a conversation. They’ve made contact with me,” Arnold said.
“They told me what type of process they’re going to go through. After having it explained to me — (I) think it’s a fantastic process to get the right people involved and make those kind of decisions.”
SOCCEROOS COACHING SHORTLIST
JURGEN KLINSMANN (Germany)
Clubs: Bayern Munich
Countries: Germany, USA
Davutovic’s odds: $3
Klinsmann is a favourite among certain FFA powerbrokers, including chairman Steven Lowy. His World Cup record – with Germany and USA – is strong and his high-intensity, attacking style is akin to Postecoglou’s.
BERT VAN MARWIJK (Holland)
Clubs: Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburg
Countries: Holland, Saudi Arabia
Davutovic’s odds: $3
Emerged as a frontrunner with his intimate knowledge of Australia – van Marwijk qualified Saudi Arabia for Russia 2018 ahead of the Socceroos before departing – and reasonable wage demands.
ROBERTO MANCINI (Italy)
Clubs: Fiorentina, Lazio, Manchester City, Inter Milan, Zenit St Petersburg
Davutovic’s odds: $3
While Mancini hasn’t coached internationally, he has won four domestic titles – three in Italy and the famous one with Manchester City in 2011-12. The fact that he’s based in Russia now is a plus.
LOUIS VAN GAAL (Holland)
Clubs: Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Davutovic’s odds: $5
The uncompromising Dutchman has already rattled the cage at FFA, with questions raised about whether they can handle his big personality. His interest in taking the Socceroos job should be taken seriously considering his record.
MARCELO BIELSA (Argentina)
Clubs: Newell’s Old Boys, Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Lille
Countries: Argentina, Chile
Davutovic’s odds: $6
FFA is showing only lukewarm interest in Bielsa, apparently nervous about his demands, including bringing over a significant backroom staff. They’re also worried about his limited grasp of English.
SLAVEN BILIC (Croatia)
Clubs: Lokomotiv Moscow, Besiktas, West Ham
Davutovic’s odds: $6.50
Most recently coached West Ham, where a sensational first season and a stellar Euro 2008 with Croatia remain the highpoints of his coaching CV. Bilic is a players’ coach who likes his players to express themselves.
GRAHAM ARNOLD (Australia)
Clubs: Northern Spirit, Central Coast, Vegalta Sendai, Sydney FC
Countries: Australia (Interim 2006-07)
Davutovic’s odds: $8.50
Favoured to take charge after a foreigner leads the Socceroos to Russia 2018, though he will be interviewed.