Newcastle Jets have stepped up plans to secure Graham Arnold as coach, opening the tantalising possibility he could coach against the Mariners in an F3 derby.
Newcastle Jets have stepped up plans to secure Graham Arnold as coach, opening the tantalising possibility that he could coach against his former employers Central Coast in an F3 derby.
The former Mariners boss has met with Jets CEO Robbie Middleby, chairman Ray Baartz and Hunter Sports Group boss Troy Palmer.
Arnold parted ways with J-League club Vegalta Sendai earlier this month after just six games and a winless start to the season in Japan.
After missing the finals for the last four seasons, the Jets are desperate to return to the top of the Hyundai A-League.
"They have showed an interest since I have been back, and I just wanted to drive up the coast to meet them and see where everything was at," Arnold told the Newcastle Herald.
"There has been no formal offer. They asked my intentions and what I planned to do.
"I only got back from Japan last week, as I said to Robbie [Middleby], I'm not ready to make any decisions yet."
It's believed Arnold is hopeful of making a decision on his coaching future in the next week.
While the former Socceroos boss has already knocked back Perth Glory - who appointed Kenny Lowe on Tuesday - Sydney FC may also come calling with Frank Farina's future up in the air.
"Out of respect to Newcastle and the other clubs that are interested, I will have to make a decision towards the end of month," Arnold said.
"Obviously recruitment will be a key factor. At this moment I'm trying to settle my brain after the three months I had in Japan.
"It is a matter of making sure the decision is right. Making sure the infrastructure would be right or if it needed improvement.
"Making sure if I did take the job, that they would be willing to provide what needs to be better.
“I'm not talking about players, I'm talking about off-the-field-things around the training facility.
"They need to be up to the standard to build the right culture and provide the opportunity for the players to be better."
It's understood Jets have also interviewed three other candidates, including caretaker Clayton Zane, to take the reins after Gary van Egmond was sacked mid-season.
Arnold guided the Mariners to last season's A-League title before leaving the club for Japan early in the season.
His long-time assistant Phil Moss took over the reins and has impressed in his first full season as a senior A-League coach.
Arnold said he won't let the emotion of switching to Central Coast's local rivals sway his final decision.
"There is not an abundance of jobs here in Australia," the 50-year-old former Socceroo strike said.
"I wouldn't be the first coach to coach at a rival club. I'm sure the Mariners supporters would appreciate that situation as would the Newcastle supporters.
"It is not at that point yet. We had a good chat. Both parties will go away, have a think and decide if we want to continue discussions.
"They also have to consider what I have spoken to them about and whether I'm the right fit for them.
"I know Newcastle is a sports-mad city and one of the cornerstones of Australian football.
“Even though they haven't made the top six for the past four years they still average over 10,000 members.
"It could build into a much bigger club if the success was there. There is a lot of upside to it."