Socceroos coach must be Aussie: Merrick

Dec 12, 2017 - 6:10 AM The Socceroos post must go to an Australian like Graham Arnold or Tony Popovic, long-time A-league coach Ernie Merrick has declared.

As Football Federation Australia's panel of experts scours the globe for Ange Postecoglou's successor, Merrick added his voice to the chorus in favour of a local appointment.

"The Socceroos job should go to an Australian coach," Merrick said.

"Graham Arnold or Tony Popovic would be the front two.

"The idea of going overseas again, I just don't understand that.

"Those two know the players, they know the sporting culture, and I'd love to see one of those two given the job."

While FFA chief executive David Gallop has indicated an Australian coach would be preferable, the governing body is casting the net far and wide in search of the right person to take the Socceroos to next year's World Cup, with contract length and Postecoglou's legacy both key issues for consideration.

Sydney FC's Arnold is already the standout domestic frontrunner among other candidates including Melbourne Victory counterpart Kevin Muscat.

Brisbane and Central Coast coaches John Aloisi and Paul Okon have also been mentioned as outsiders.

Popovic was somewhat removed from calculations since quitting Western Sydney in September for Turkish club Karabukspor.

However, he's reportedly not ruled out a dual club-country role in the lead-up to Russia 2018, though FFA has said the feasibility of repeating Guus Hiddink's multi-tasking of 2006 appears slim.

Merrick, by far the A-League's longest-serving manager, had not spoken with either Arnold or Popovic.

But the Scottish-born 64-year-old said the decision was a no-brainer.

"How many times have you seen an overseas coach come in and coach at club level?" he said.

"They don't know the players, the style of football or the Australian culture, and they've struggled a bit.

"I just think we can stand up for ourselves now, and I'm saying that as a mostly Australian Scot."

Former Socceroos Mark Schwarzer, Stan Lazaridis and Mark Bresciano are part of FFA's panel tasked with selecting the next national coach by mid-February ahead of the next friendly in March.

Source: AAP

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