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A-League streak secures Arnold contract

AAP logoAAP 20/12/2016 Emma Kemp

This season's blistering start was the clincher that persuaded Sydney FC that Graham Arnold was the right man to stay on as coach of the A-League ladder leaders.

Yet with a two-year contract extension in his back pocket, Arnold insists he feels no added pressure to finish the job and deliver the club its first trophy in seven years.

After months of negotiations and interest elsewhere, Arnold will remain with the table-topping Sky Blues until at least 2019.

Chairman Scott Barlow said the plan had always been to wait until the third and final year of his current deal before looking to lock him in for the long term.

However he admitted the team's 11-game undefeated start, to sit seven points clear at the summit, had been a significant factor in the 53-year-old's retention.

"It's been our best start to the season ever, and there's no question those performances have only strengthened our view that he's the right coach to take us forward," Barlow said on Tuesday.

"We truly believe we have the best coach in the country.

"His track record speaks for itself but beyond that, Graham brings great leadership and builds a strong culture within the team."

Arnold described his new contract as a privilege, and a chance to make his record-breaking five-year tenure one to remember for the right reasons.

For the next four months his sole focus will be guiding the squad to long-awaited silverware, though he was adamant that the only nagging fear of failure came from within.

"I don't feel any more pressure than the pressure I put on myself to be successful and win," Arnold said.

"It's a dream of mine to hand that trophy to Scott, the board and fans, to win the minor premiership and championship.

"And the club has given me all the backing on the recruitment side of things."

Arnold's signature is likely to open the floodgates for player re-signings as the club looks to lock down the core of their in-demand squad.

Talented midfielder Brandon O'Neill signed a two-year extension last week but around a dozen more players are coming off contract, with key centre-back Matt Jurman already reportedly a chance of leaving for Korea in the January transfer window.

"We're in deep discussions with half a dozen players," Arnold said.

"We're very confident they will stay.

"They'd be crazy to leave this club, it gives them everything they need to perform at the best of their ability."

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