Top coaches of the A-League - Part IV

We get to the pointy end of the best coaches the Hyundai A-League has ever seen.

Two men who represented their nations as players come in at three and four as we continue our countdown.

4. Ricki Herbert

A legend in his home country of New Zealand, Herbert is of course revered as the man who took the All Whites through an amazing undefeated run at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, where they drew with Paraguay, Slovakia and the almighty Azzurri, but were still bundled out at the group stage.

Still that was no small feat and neither is being a successful coach with one of the tightest budgets in the Hyundai A-League, yet Herbert has steadily built the Phoenix from the ashes of New Zealand Knights and they have slowly become a force to be reckoned with.

Over that time he has battled with a team who struggled to find any way to win away from Westpac Stadium, two insolvencies and little cash to splash on a genuine marquee player, although for the past two seasons he has had Paul Ifill, who might just have performed better than half the marquee signings the league has seen, despite never being one himself.

A former defender for the national side, Herbert has built his sides evenly, but a stout defence and having good keepers has been a hallmark of the team, the Nix back four under Herbert have always been considered ‘no nonsense- defender and this platform, is what they build off going forward.

Herbert is also smart enough to know that when he hasn-t had a genuine striking superstar in the side, the need is there to park the bus and he does, rather successfully.

Throughout his time coaching the Nix he has a record that has seen them get a result 59 per cent of the time.

3. Graham Arnold

Still searching for the holy grail after going so close so many times, Graham Arnold may be short a Championship trophy, much like the Mariners, but at least he has remained true to the club and will keep trying.

Arguably the most sought after coach in Australian football these days, Arnie-s tactical nous and ability to get the best out of his players is somewhat legendary.

Like Ricki Herbert, and like Lawrie McKinna before him at the Mariners, Arnold has had little budget to play with, would probably love to sign a marquee player, but simply can-t.

His solution has frequently to bring gun youngsters into the side and give them their chance and they have thrived. Players like Mustafa Amini, Okliver Bozanic, Mat Ryan and Bernie Ibini-Isei have all benefitted and so have the Mariners.

While bringing these players through the ranks may have been important, so too has been the acquisition of key players from elsewhere, with the addition of former NAC Breda teammate Patrick Zwaanswijk being the key example.

Arnold has shown he prefers his team-s to grind out results and for the most part that has worked, but he has also shown he is an astute manager letting his team off the leash at times when they have to chase results and when they are in that attacking frame of mind, the side can play outstanding football.

Arnold has schooled his teams in playing to rigid structures, whether they be attacking or defensive and all have worked for him, for now his biggest challenges are finding the right replacement for Matt Simon and winning that first grand final to complement his Premier-s Plate.