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The coach of the year award is pretty much the most significant accolade that an A-League coach can win. It’s given to the coaches that have enjoyed the most success, shown the greatest leadership, and helped their respective teams to maximize their potential each season. Needless to say, winning the A-League coach of the year award is not easy. However, there have been three guys that have won the award multiple times, and we’d like to share some information about these guys below.
The three guys who top the list of A-League Coach of the Year Winners
In A-League history, these three coaches rise above the rest in a big way. Sure, there have been coaches that have managed to put in phenomenal showings for one season but repeating it is something you don’t see so often. With that said, the following three men have been more consistent than all others:
Of the three A-League coach of the year winners discussed here, Arnold is the only guy that has won the award on three separate occasions. He managed to do this in 2012, 2017, and 2018. The first award came during his spell at Central Coast Mariners, whereas the final two came during his dominance with Sydney FC. But with that said, he managed to turn the Central Coast Mariners from an average side into a two-time league-winning team, including one Grand Final Championship. This alone put Arnold in the history books, but he was far from settled with just that, as you can see.
Arnold took on the role at Sydney FC in 2014, and his success at the club is the stuff of legend. Sydney FC managed to score the most points in a single season, remain in 1st position for an entire season, and win the Grand Final Championship under Arnold’s guidance. Not bad for a guy who had already done it all before with a previous club!
While Arnold managed to rack up his A-League coach of the year awards with two separate clubs, Merrick did it with the same team – Melbourne Victory. The first title came back in the 06/07 season, and the second one followed for the 09/10 season. During the 06/07 season, Merrick helped Melbourne Victory to A-League glory, and they did so by clearing their nearest opponents by an entire 12 points at the season’s conclusion. In addition to this, they won the Grand Final by a thumping 6-0. This showed the entire A-League what Merrick was capable of, although it would be a few years from then until he showed his skill once again.
Come the 09/10 season, the team was plagued by injuries. But even with these issues, Merrick showed incredible resilience, leading the side to a Grand Final appearance, although they ultimately lost out on some silverware.
Much like Merrick, Popovic is a two-time winner of this prestigious award. The distance between the awards for Popovic is even greater than Merrick too since he won the award for the first time in 2013 and then waited six years to win it again in 2019. Popovic is another one of the A-League coach of the year winners that managed to take home the trophy with two different teams – firstly with Western Sydney Wanderers and secondly with Perth Glory. Some would say that this shows diversity and talent, and we tend to agree.
Popovic managed to win the A-League with both of these clubs, although he never managed to take his team forward and win a Grand Final. Then again, the turnaround that he managed at both clubs is nothing shy of remarkable, and he deserved to win these awards without question.
Bonus – most recent A-League coach of the year
Since the A-League coach of the year award is an ongoing thing, of course, there was a winner for the 20/21 season. Details of the winner can be seen below:
Kisnorbo won the award thanks to his incredible success with Melbourne City. Given that this was his first season as a full-time manager of a club, it is just ridiculous that he stepped up and led the team to the double. He won the A-league Championship as well as the Grand Final in the same season, and it’s not like he had amazing players at his disposal either. Instead, Kisnorbo managed to instil a relentless work ethic into his players, and there was very much a ‘never die’ attitude displayed on the field by all.
With this said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Kisnorbo went on to win multiple coach of the year awards in his career.