Australian coaches showing their worth

Their teams might be enjoying different levels of success but the exploits of Frank Farina and Graham Arnold are examples of the improvement of Australian coaches.

Their teams might be enjoying different levels of success this season but the exploits of Frank Farina and Graham Arnold are more shining examples of the continued improvement of Australian coaches.

That's the opinion of former Socceroos goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, who played under both men during his career with the national team and is currently part of Farina's staff at Sydney FC.

Saturday night's blockbuster between the Sky Blues and Central Coast will see Farina and Arnold go head-to-head in what shapes as a crucial match for both sides, for varying reasons.

And given the history of the pair you can be sure it will be a willing contest with very little between the two sides.

Farina and Arnold have taken similar paths to get where they are now.

They both had successful playing careers both at home and abroad before graduating into management domestically and then working together with the Socceroos for five years.

It's why Kalac believes their coaching in the A-League is also very similar - and successful.

In an era where clubs and coaches are employing sports scientists and new fandangled diets to try and give their players an edge, these two are very much keeping it retro.

"They've both got the old school mentality," Kalac said this week.

"The belief in having a strong work ethic and respect and that's a key thing. And they are both good man-managers, which as a player you always enjoy.

"You prefer a good man-manager rather than a dictator and they both have that about them.

"Arnie's done a fantastic job with Central Coast. He's learned a lot under the guidance of the managers he's been an assistant to, and now he's bringing his own methods into coaching and the fruits are there for everyone to see.

"Franky's come into a club where a few things need to be shaped up and he's in the middle of doing that.

"If you count the points we've picked up since he's taken over, we're in the top four so his job's been done this year....just wait till he assembles his own team next year."

Asked the main strength of the pair, a candid Kalac said: "I think to be a manager at any level, especially at this level in the A-League and at a big club like Sydney FC you have to have balls.

"You have to have big kahuna's and I think Franky's (Farina) got those. For me that's a massive positive.

"Arnie's shown to have them as well in what he's done with Central Coast.

"It's maybe not as much pressure as at Sydney FC but you still have to get results and he's done that for a few years now.

"You always pick up something new from each manager and I'm learning day in, day out with Frank.

"Hopefully we can put the wood over Arnie on Saturday."

Kalac, who spent most of his playing days with AC Milan in Italy, played under a wealth of top-class managers during his decorated career.

Not always highly complementary of the development of Australia's coaches, the man known as 'Spider' now has a different view.

The exploits of Arnold, Farina, Ange Postecoglou and Tony Popovic in recent seasons have made it easy to change his mind.

"It's great for the Australia game and I had no doubt it would happen," he said.

"I think we implemented a little bit what they did in the J-League where we brought a lot of foreign coaches into the country and tried to steal their ideas.

"Some were good and some were bad.

"But our younger generation of coaches have learned a lot and if you look at someone like Ange (Postecoglou), he went around the world and got ideas then implemented them here.

"I think Australian football is heading in the right direction, especially with our coaches."

With the exception of Arnold's short-term stint in charge of the Socceroos following the 2006 World Cup, Farina is the last long-serving Australian coach to be at the helm of the Socceroos.

Australian Football chiefs have plumped for European managers since Farina's exit, with German Holger Osieck currently in charge following on from the work of Dutchmen Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek.

But Kalac says it won't be long before another local clip-boarder takes the reins of the national side.

"It's quite clear our guys are good enough," he said.

"They need obviously just need the time and experience. But they are definitely showing they can handle it and you only have to look at the type of football you're seeing in the A-League.

"It's an exciting thing and is great for the future."