Transfer speculation has surrounded key players Tom Rogic and Mat Ryan with the opening of the January transfer window, but Arnold is hopeful he can hang on to both
|By JOHN GRECO
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold admits he will be a nervous wreck for the next month as a couple of his young stars weigh up whether to join European clubs.
The Mariners may be four points clear at the top of the ladder after Sunday's 2-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers, but could lose midfield star Tom Rogic and goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Rogic could be joining English Premier League club Reading, while Ryan was set to fly out for a trial with fallen Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers on Monday only for a shoulder injury to postpone it.
Arnold has seen the likes of Alex Wilkinson, Matt Simon and Rostyn Griffiths all secure lucrative deals abroad in the last 12 months and he expects Rogic and Ryan to follow suit.
The Mariners boss is already counting down the days to February, when the transfer window closes, and hopes he can still have his full squad intact
"It really is a nervous time for a coach especially here in Australia and when you have a lot of top young talent like we've got," Arnold said.
"And there's two sides to it.
"I'm always for the player. I made a statement when I first came in, I'd judge my performance in the job by how many millionaires I can make out of these players.
"I've probably already done four and there's probably another couple that are going to go.
"But I really hope that they stay and we can keep them to the end of the season somehow."
Not that the Mariners cannot go on to win the A-League championship even if they lose two of their brightest young stars.
Arnold is confident the win over the Wanderers shows his squad has mental strength and depth to cover should Rogic and Ryan leave, but only if they find a ruthless streak in front of goal.
"I was disappointed when they [Wanderers] went down to 10 men that we didn't kill them off quicker than we did," Arnold said.
"The 2-0 scoreline in the end flattered us a bit.
"We gave them a couple of chances and they could have got back to 1-1 and we could have thrown away a few points.
"The killer instinct in front of goal and taking the chances we had, if we done that we would have killed the game off earlier.
"If we want to maintain our position, go forward and be a better team, then we have to be more ruthless than that."
Ageless striker Daniel McBreen continued his fairytale season, scoring both goals to take his tally for the campaign to 12, two ahead of Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas and Wellington's Jeremy Brockie.
"He's on fire," Arnold said of the 35-year-old front man.
"But it's not just his goals but his work rate.
"He works so hard physically. He's a handful to deal with when he's in this type of form."
The Mariners face another big challenge on Saturday, when they take on the Melbourne Victory at Launceston's Aurora Stadium.