Graham Arnold is confident the atmosphere of next weekend’s derby will bring out the best in his Sydney FC side after their narrow victory over Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.
The Sky Blues secured their first win of the new Hyundai A-League season 1-0 thanks to skipper Alex Brosque’s 89th-minute goal.
It was far from a vintage performance from Arnold’s troops but he expects the colour and passion of the Sydney derby to take his side to another level.
“It will be night time, the field will be nice and quick and there will be 44,000 there welcoming the Wanderers into our big house,” Arnold said.
“It’s our mansion and they will come. We’ll have plenty of Sky Blue supporters and it will be fantastic occasion.
“I can’t wait. It’s a sporting event on the Australian sporting calendar that everyone looks forward to.
“They [Wanderers] performed well last night and it should be a cracking game.”
Arnold admitted he thought his side would have to settle for a point in a fairly stodgy encounter, until Brosque pounced at the death.
There was still a few talking points though, with the Jets denied what looked like a fair goal to Jason Hoffman for offside, while Shane Smeltz came under fire for a challenge that left Mark Birighitti with a facial injury.
And Sydney defender Seb Ryall also came in for some criticism for a blatant dive in the box, which drew the ire of his coach.
“I just had a go at him about it. There was no need for it,” Arnold said of the dive.
“He [Ryall] was past the defender and could have scored. I don’t condone diving. It’s something I’ve already spoken to him about.”
Arnold and Jets boss Scott Miller were involved in some light-hearted banter in the build-up to the match and the Sydney FC mentor is impressed by the job the rookie coach is doing at the club.
And he urged the people of Newcastle to back the team as they try and improve on a disappointing campaign last season.
“You can definitely see they are striving forward. Change takes time, you can’t just throw a new coach in, a whole group of players and expect miracles straight away,” Arnold said of the Jets.
“What they did last week against Wellington, they were hard to beat and they scored two goals on the counter.
“Today they were hard to beat and if they continue to be hard to beat, they’ll pick up wins, pick up points and they’ll grow as the season goes on.“The Newcastle people have to get right behind them because they are the pride of the Newcastle people along with the Newcastle Knights. The Newcastle area has been renowned for their passion for football.”