Arnold wants a drink with rival Popovic
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold hopes to share a drink with Western Sydney counterpart Tony Popovic before next Sunday's A-League grand final.
Speaking after the Mariners' 1-0 win against Melbourne Victory which sealed a spot in the decider, Arnold praised the Wanderers and 39 year-old Popovic.
"Let me first say Western Sydney have been brilliant this year and Poppa is a great friend of mine," Arnold said.
"I can't wait to see him tomorrow night at the awards night and have a beer with him because he has had a fantastic season.
"Western Sydney Wanderers are going to be a huge challenge for use, especially with their 12th man there - there will probably be 30,000, 35,000 Western Sydney supporters there so we are going to have to be at the top of our game."
The former Crystal Palace assistant coach was in the stands at Gosford watching the Mariners and Melbourne Victory vie for the right to play the Wanderers in the grand final.
"No doubt Tony was taking down his notes with Ante Milicic (Wanderers assistant coach) and will look at the video of us but we will work on what our strengths are and we will worry about ourselves and try to nullify Western Sydney’s strengths," Arnold said.
One of the strengths Arnold refers to is evergreen striker Daniel McBreen who slotted home the decisive goal in the 42nd minute.
The former North Queensland Fury marksman’s 18th goal of the season sent the majority of the 10,651 fans into delirium on Sunday, and earned high praise from Arnold.
"Macca's great and it's his work-rate as well, He works so hard," he said.
"I change his role often, sometimes he is up high as a nine, other times if I need him in the midfield, if the opposition moves the ball around well, I'll put him as a 10 so he can do a lot of defensive work.
"No doubt everyone looks at the goals he has scored, and he scored a great goal tonight, but I look at his performance and what he does for the team and that is of great value."
The only negative to the Mariners' great performance in reaching a second grand final in three years appears the probable departure of three players overseas at the end of the season.
"It gives me huge pride in the amount of Australian kids that we bring through," Arnold said.
"I know I beat the drum about Australian youngsters here at the Mariners, it's a club of choice and it's a club of opportunity for the kids.
"Look at Bernie (Ibini) tonight and (Trent) Sainsbury, unbelievable, they were outstanding, they have developed so much.
"Matty Ryan has matured so much.
"Unfortunately I think that might be their last game on that field for some of those players.
"They have got agents knocking on the door and I think you might see that they will be heading off."