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Australian Football: All-time top five A-league coaches

The A-League is currently blessed with some top coaches, including Steve Corica, John Aloisi and Patrick Kisnorbo, but who has been the most successful over the last 18 years?

The A-League was founded in 2004 with the inaugural season taking place in 2005/06 and there have been some top coaches along the way.

The current crop are impressive. Aloisi in particular showed in the 2021/22 campaign what a master coach and tactician he is when guiding Western United to grand final glory against all the odds.

Kisnorbo is another. Melbourne City won the championship/premiership double under his leadership in 2020/21 while they also won the minor premiership last season before losing the grand final to Western United.

Corica also deserves a mention after a successful spell with Sydney FC. He helped the Sky Blues to win two premierships and two championships and will be out to challenge at the top again in the forthcoming campaign.

However the above trio do not make the top five here, so let’s take a look at the A-League’s all-time top five coaches.
 

Graham Arnold

The current coach of the Socceroos has to go down as the most successful A-League coach of all-time because as things stand, he has won the most silverware.

Arnold has enjoyed successful stints with the Central Coast Mariners between 2010 and 2013 and Sydney FC from 2014 to 2018.

He guided the Mariners to two grand finals, winning one of them, while they also won the 2011/12 premiership. All this while operating with the smallest budget in the competition.

The Mariners also qualified for the AFC Champions League in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

At Sydney FC, Arnold won one grand final and two premierships along with an FFA Cup, making him the most successful coach in the history of the A-League.

Ange Postecoglou

Postecoglou is currently making a name for himself overseas after winning the Scottish Premiership title with Glasgow giants Celtic last season.

They are also going well this season and sit top of the pile after five games. Before that he also won the J-League in Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos.
Postecoglou also had great success in the A-League with Brisbane Roar when winning one premiership and two championships between 2009 and 2012.

The 57-year-old earned praise for his bold style of football that was pleasing on the eye and helped Brisbane go 36 games unbeaten at one point.

His titles in Japan and Scotland would make him the most successful Australian coach of all-time but he drops behind Arnold when it comes to the A-League.

Tony Popovic

Popovic is currently head coach of Melbourne Victory and he worked wonders in his first season in charge in 2021/22 when taking them back into the top three. This after they finished with the wooden spoon the season before.

You would not bet against him from taking Victory all the way this season, but he is still looking for his first grand final success.

Popovic won the premiership with Perth Glory but then lost the grand final on penalties against Sydney FC.

Elsewhere Popovic also won the premiership in his first season with Western Sydney Wanderers, who he also guided to Asian Champions League success in 2014.

Kevin Muscat

Muscat wrote his name into the history books of Melbourne Victory when he steered them to the A-League premiership/championship double in just his second year in charge of the club.

He backed that up with FFA Cup glory in 2015 before winning the grand final with Victory in 2017/18 following an impressive run through the finals campaign.

Muscat was head coach for a six-year spell, and critics would argue that he should have won more trophies during that spell.

However he boasted a 49percent win ratio and has to go down as one of the A-League’s best of all-time.

Ernie Merrick

In his second season in charge of Melbourne Victory, Merrick won the premiership/championship double in impressive style.

Victory won the league by a mammoth 12 points and then went on to beat Adelaide United 6-0 in the grand final.

They went on to win another double the season after before losing the grand final in the 2009/10 campaign. Merrick left Victory in 2011.

He later guided Newcastle Jets from the bottom of the ladder to the 2017/18 grand final which they lost courtesy of a controversial VAR call. Even so Merrick earned great praise for the job he did with the Jets.

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