Socceroos' Graham Arnold on the perils of social media and his future

EXCLUSIVE: Socceroos boss Graham Arnold reveals why he tells his players to watch comedians perform before they fall asleep, what Guus Hiddink means to the side – and his future beyond the World Cup

  • Socceroos boss tells his players not to become engrossed in social media
  • Will again work with Guus Hiddink in upcoming match versus New Zealand
  • Open to selecting Tom Rogic if he is available for the World Cup in Qatar
  • Graham Arnold uncertain about his future, focused on World Cup in November 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is so worried about social media’s ability to leave his team with a negative mindset that he keeps warning his players to stay away from platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

In part two of his exclusive interview with Daily Mail Australia, the man who has been part of Australia’s five previous World Cup campaigns reveals he often passes on a very important message to his stars: stay off your phones.

‘You need to block the outside noise [when in international camps], so I’m always telling the players to keep off their phones, especially at night,’ he said.

‘It can be a distraction, and often leaves a negative mind space.

‘I tell them to listen to music or watch a comedian [online] instead – it means when they go to sleep, their minds are at ease, they are thinking happy thoughts.

‘The players are not just athletes or sportsmen – they are performers, with the pitch their centre stage.’   

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold first worked alongside Dutch maestro Guus Hiddink ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The pair have remained firm friends ever since

Socceroos rising star Awer Mabil has spoken about how obsessed he was with social media – but Arnold encourages his players to avoid it where possible – and especially at night

The Guus Hiddink factor 

Anrold will have the luxury of having Dutchman Guus Hiddink – one of the most astute minds in world football –  beside him in the dugout when his Socceroos take on New Zealand in a Trans-Tasman fixture in Brisbane next month.

It would be a ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming moment’ for many managers in world football, but as Arnold explained, the pair enjoy a long-lasting friendship that was forged ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

There is also not a chance he will refer to the former Russia, Netherlands and South Korean coach, 75, as his assistant – especially after coaxing Hiddink out of retirement.

‘We go back a long way, and with [Socceroos assistant coach] Rene Meulensteen staying in Europe to scout international games involving France and Denmark, I asked him the question,’ Arnold said.

‘Guus has a genuine love for the Socceroos, and he knows what it takes to be successful.

‘The players will have stars in their eyes meeting him and listening to what he has to say, I am sure they will be all ears.

‘I was always going to use his expertise if he was available, who wouldn’t?’

The international future of Tom Rogic remains up in the air – but if he chooses to play at the World Cup, he will be a welcome addition to the Socceroos squad

Playing Andrew Redmayne off the bench in the penalty shoot-out win against Peru was the biggest gamble of Arnold’s coaching career – but it paid off in spectacular fashion

Tom Rogic

The availability of the classy midfielder for Australia ahead of Qatar has been a mystery in recent months.

After departing Scottish giants Celtic, the Canberra-raised 29-year-old is yet to return any calls and his football future remains in limbo.

When pressed on whether Rogic has been in touch, Arnold’s response was succinct: ‘He needs a club.’ 

The future

Many didn’t expect Arnold’s side to qualify for the World Cup.

Not for the first time, the former striker silenced his critics, progressing to the biggest event in world sport after 20 qualifying games – including just four matches on Australian soil.

The Sydneysider also contracted Covid twice and had critics calling for his resignation before the final two qualifying triumphs in Doha versus the UAE and then Peru in that famous penalty shootout.

Arnold has been a magnet for detractors – but he silenced his critics after qualifying for the 2022 World Cup

He puts the needs of his players first, and gets the best of his squads (pictured, with Ajdin Hrustic after beating Peru on penalties in Doha)

‘It has been a tough two years,’ Arnold said in what was a massive understatement.

‘I was facing multiple stints in quarantine if I kept coming home during the pandemic, so I didn’t want to do that.

‘It meant I didn’t see my wife or kids for a long time, it wasn’t easy.

‘In terms of the criticism I don’t worry about it, but I would love to see some people come in and do my job.’ 

If Australia shocks the world in Qatar and progress from the group stage, Arnold will have exceeded expectations.

He also wants to better Australia’s record at World Cups, with Japan (2006) and Serbia (2010) the only teams the Socceroos have beaten since first qualifying in 1974.

Leading up to Qatar, he plans to ‘enjoy the next few months’ and will cherish spending Christmas with his family.

As for 2023 and beyond, Arnold isn’t sure yet. If the Socceroos hold their own come November, he won’t be short of offers.

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