Two times the charm or curse for Arnie?
Graham Arnold has experience at coming second and if he was a superstitious man, will have noticed how often the number two has been significant in his career.
Graham Arnold was quoted in the press as saying, “Finishing at least second in the A-League is security for it means we get two bites at the cherry in terms of the grand final”.
And while he has banned all talk of the A-League ahead of the Mariners- AFC Champions League meeting with Nagoya Grampus, one can only imagine how much Arnold would prefer the satisfaction of lifting the Premiers- Plate, over the pain of playing bridesmaid (or is that groomsman?) to Brisbane Roar… again.
This weekend holds a chance for Arnold to finally grasp some silverware as a coach. Despite a long and illustrious career both playing and coaching, it would be just the second time he would lift a major trophy in this country, after an NSL Cup Victory as part of the Sydney United side that beat South Melbourne 2-0 on aggregate over two legs in 1987.
Arnie has experience at coming second and if he was a superstitious man, will have noticed how often the number two has been significant in his career - more times than he would probably care to count.
So winning the Mariners- second Premiers- Plate would be a welcome confidence boost for the man in charge.
In the last two months, the Mariners- losses to the Roar, along with Victory, Heart and Perth saw their northern rivals chip away at an 11-point lead.
Brisbane-s two goals on Saturday at Hunter Stadium put them just two points adrift, after the second last match of the regular season.
As mentioned earlier, being pipped at the post is nothing new to Arnold, and continuing to focus on the troublesome twos, the score line which seems to provide the most angst is 2-2; a statistic that has followed him from his playing days and defined key moments in his career.
In 1988, Graham Arnold-s Sydney United side, which boasted the likes of Tony Franken, Craig Foster and Robbie Slater, met the Marconi Stallions in the Grand Final of the NSL. The score-line at full-time was 2-2. Marconi won on penalties and took home the title, despite the fact that United finished second on the ladder, two places above the Stallions.
Almost a decade later, Arnold was part of the Socceroos side at the MCG who suffered the heart-breaking experience of bowing out at the final stage of what would have been a second World Cup Qualification.
We all know the story - after a 2-0 lead, Iran recovered for a 2-2 draw which saw the visitors progress on the away goals rule.
Imagine then, his disappointment as head coach of Central Coast, when those two historically pivotal moments converged in the 2010/2011 Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
The Mariners- 2-0 extra-time lead chased down at the death - leading to a penalty shoot-out, which once again left Arnold empty handed.
If the score in Wellington on Sunday is 2-2 at fulltime, and Brisbane beat Gold Coast United, Graham Arnold will once again see a trophy slip from his grasp.
Surely no one could be that unlucky - though in his favour, the two times this season that Central Coast have faced the Phoenix, the Mariners have scored twice in each one, giving them two wins from two meetings.
Whatever the result on the weekend, Graham Arnold-s side will secure, as he said, at least second spot and have their two bites at the cherry, but with the Hyundai A-League Grand Final to be played on April 22nd, Arnie might just want to consult a numerologist.