Graham Arnold likely to sign new Socceroos deal after ‘best coach’ rating at 2022 World Cup

Arnold to meet Football Australia chiefs in early January as L’Equipe puts him in top spot following last-16 achievement

Graham Arnold will sit down with Football Australia chiefs in early January to thrash out a new deal that is expected to see him remain in charge of the Socceroos, with the coach’s bargaining power having received a fillip after he was named the best coach of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Highly regarded sports newspaper L’Equipe put the out-of-contract Australian in top spot on its rankings, above the likes of Lionel Scaloni of Argentina and France’s Didier Deschamps.

Arnold’s future is yet to be clarified after his deal expired following the Socceroos’ barnstorming run to the last 16 of the tournament in Qatar, although he is expected to be offered a new contract once he returns from holiday in Europe in the new year.

In the meantime, he can bask in the glow of edging out Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu at the summit of the French publication’s rankings, which are based on individual match ratings throughout the tournament.

Arnold averaged a score of 6.75 out of 10 after masterminding wins over Tunisia and Denmark as the Socceroos navigated out of Group D and into the last 16 for the second time in their history and for the first time since 2006. Defeats came against eventual winners Argentina in the knockout phase and runners-up France in their opening match of the tournament.

The run earned an official 11th-place finish for the Socceroos and is expected to help Arnold’s side rise to 27th in the world when the latest Fifa rankings are released on Thursday – their highest since reaching 25th in 2012 under Holger Osieck.

The coach ratings, which are compiled by L’Equipe journalists after each match, are based on a number of metrics, including tactical nous and how their teams played.

Scaloni, having guided Argentina to the South Americans’ third world title, ranked joint third alongside Walid Regragui, who took Morocco all the way to the semi-finals – the first time in history an African team had gone so far. France boss Deschamps came in fifth, with England’s Gareth Southgate ranked sixth.

L’Equipe’s player ratings are notoriously miserly, with just 14 perfect 10s having been awarded in their history. The first were given to Franck Sauzée and Bruno Martini after a France U21s game in 1988 and the most recent to Erling Haaland for this season’s Manchester derby hat-trick performance. Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi (twice), Robert Lewandowski and Neymar also appear on the elite list.

Aziz Behich was Australia’s top performer in Qatar, according to L’Equipe, with an average rating of 5.75 (by comparison, the Guardian gave Behich an average of 6.25) and golden boot winner Mbappé topped the list with a score of 7.17.

Arnold headed to the UK straight from Qatar and is taking a break before returning to Australia in the new year for contract discussions. The Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said on Wednesday he was in regular contact with the coach but no “hard conversations” were being had at the moment.

“We are midway through the post-World Cup campaign review,” Johnson told Fox Sports. “We have signalled to Graham that we’d like to have a conversation with him about the next four years. And he’s signalled to us that he’s open to having that conversation.

“He’s back from his holidays in early January and so too am I, and we’ll sit down and have that conversation at that point in time.”


Mike Hytner

The GuardianTramp

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