AL RAYYAN, Qatar -- Now out of contract and declaring he needs a holiday, Graham Arnold's future as Socceroos boss remains unclear after Australia's elimination from the FIFA World Cup by Argentina.
Arnold's pact to serve as the coach of the Socceroos concluded the moment the final whistle blew on their 2-1 loss to Argentina at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, concluding a four-and-a-half-year tenure that began following Russia 2018.
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Under Football Australia's structure, recently appointed chief football officer Ernie Merrick -- described as a technical director with teeth by Football Australia CEO James Johnson -- and Performance Director Paddy Steinfort lead reviews into the performance of the national teams.
The executive describes the splitting of the usual remit of a technical director into the two roles as allowing one to focus on the long-term (Merrick) and one to focus on the nearer-term (Steinfort).
Input, however, will also be sourced from figures such as Johnson, board members including Mark Bresciano and Amy Duggan, and other technical experts at the federation.
Arnold has expressed an interest in returning as the team's coach at various points across the past 12 months, but he has also proven evasive during multiple questionings on the issue in Qatar.
"I haven't thought about the future," Arnold said after the Argentina defeat. "My contract is up and I just want to go away, have a holiday, have a break and see what happens.
"I've worked extremely hard in this campaign, I haven't even thought about it -- I need a break, a rest and no doubt I'll have some good discussions with the organisation."
Arnold became the first coach since Guus Hiddink to lead Australia to the round of 16 in Qatar and set a new mark for the most wins in a single tournament, most clean sheets and most points secured.
His job, however, also came under significant pressure during an adverse run of results in qualifying that almost led to the Socceroos missing out on the World Cup. Figures at the federation went so far as to brief against him following a loss to Japan in Sydney.
"The dust will settle on everything here and he's been a huge part of everything that we've done here," said midfielder Jackson Irvine. "The [federation] and Arnie will do what's best for them. They'll make those decisions.
"But as players, we're just happy that we got to share this experience all the way through.
"There were some bumpy ones along the way but I think he earned the right to take us here in this tournament and at the end of the day... ..he can be proud of the team that he built and in the tournament that we have played."."
Arnold called all the players into an impromptu meeting in the dressing room before they could perform their FIFA-mandated mixed-zone commitments after the Argentina defeat, telling them to be proud of what they achieved and that they'd inspired Australians.
"He's worked with the Olyroos boys and for us older boys, you'd want him to stick around," said striker Jamie Maclaren.
"He's done it tough, as we all have, so at the end of the day I think he wants to have a holiday, he did say that.
"So, who knows what his future lies in? But it's really in the FA's hands, and if Arnie wants to stick around."