CENTRAL Coast Mariners will continue to forge strong links with English League One side Sheffield United despite coach Graham Arnold’s withering assessment of the style of play.
Mariners majority owner and Leeds fan Mike Charlesworth said links between the clubs remained robust in the aftermath of Arnold’s spray earlier this month.
The title-winning coach, who shunned overtures to manage the Blades, created headlines across the UK by labelling the club “prehistoric”.
In a return serve, Sheffield United’s chief executive, Julian Winter, described the Aussie tactician as “unprofessional” and “misinformed”.
But Charlesworth told au.fourfourtwo.com the public spat had no impact on the developing relationship between the clubs.
"Graham’s got his opinions and he has expressed those,” the English businessman said. “They’re probably slightly different to what mine are, but that’s fair enough.
“Everyone’s got different opinions in our football club and everyone’s allowed to express them, especially Graham - so good on him.
“He’s come out and said what he believes. I think some of it is slightly misquoted but he’s got an opinion, and he’s paid to make opinions, and that’s fair enough.”
Blades owner Kevin McCabe has been on the Mariners’ board since 2009 and Charlesworth said there was no residual ill-will caused by Arnold’s comments.
“No – not at all,” he said. “We’ve got a very close relationship with Sheffield United which we’re going to build on.
“I’m sure Kevin smiled when he read some of those articles. (He’s) got a great relationship with us.
“Regardless of what Graham may or may not have said, it’s not going to damage the great relationship that we’ve got.”
Charlesworth added: “We’ve got a lot of work to do in improving and building on that relationship which we want to do over the coming years.”
Last season the Mariner’s recruited Sheffield United legend, Nick Montgomery, while the Gosford’s outfit successful youth coach, Tony Walmsley, was appointed the Blades’ Head of Academy Recruitment.
Mariners players have trialed for Sheffield United in the past and just last April, Charlesworth revealed the club’s then-goalkeeper, Mat Ryan – who has since signed for Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge – was wanted by the English side.
But following his interview for the Blades post, Arnold advised Australian players to stay clear of the English lower leagues saying it’s “not going to improve your game''.
Meanwhile the Mariners have scotched suggestions that Arnold won’t be at the club for their 2013/14 title defence.
Charlesworth said they hoped to retain the coach for “many years to come” but understood he was already on the radar of overseas clubs.
“We know he’s got ambitions of larger clubs overseas but, yes, he’s going to be our manager next season and hopefully for a few seasons to come,” he said.
“The Mariners is a great club to work for and if it wasn’t he wouldn’t be working here. But you know I wouldn’t be surprised if a big club comes in for him sooner or later. “