MELBOURNE City collected their first trophy after a 1-0 triumph against Sydney FC in the FFA Cup final at AAMI Park on Wednesday night.
City superstar Tim Cahill scored in the 53rd minute with a lethal header, finishing off an Ivan Franjic cross with tradmark efficiency.
Four minutes later, Cahill was clattered in a Josh Brillante tackle and limped off soon afterwards with a knee injury, replaced by Anthony Caceres.
Even without their talisman, City clung to their lead to end Sydney’s unbeaten run and join Adelaide and Melbourne Victory as the third winners of the knockout competition.
Meanwhile, Several Sydney stars will enter the final six months of their contracts not knowing who the coach of the club will be next season with Graham Arnold yet to decide on his future.
On Thursday morning A-League players coming off contract at the end of the season will be free to talk to rival clubs and while Sydney FC are eager to retain their in-form squad, they may have to do so without certainty over their future coach.
Much like first-team regulars Milos Ninkovic, Brandon O'Neill, Matt Jurman and Filip Holosko, Arnold's contract expires at the end of May and he is yet to accept an offer for renewal.
Sydney recently entered negotiations to keep Arnold at Moore Park that were described as "positive" by his agent, Tony Rallis. Club sources suggest Sydney FC are eager to retain the 53-year-old and have not looked at alternative options for head coach next season.
It's understood that Arnold will weigh up his options and delay a decision on whether to remain with Sydney FC or move elsewhere until late December. Rallis says the coach is no rush to sign a new deal with the club despite having positive talks over his future.
"The timelines have been extended partly due to the responsibilities of the FFA Cup and it's the first time in years Sydney FC have been 90 minutes away from winning a trophy," Rallis said. "We're not anxious, we've entered in goodwill into the discussions and there's goodwill from both parties for a long-term relationship."
After guiding Sydney FC to their first FFA Cup final this season and remaining undefeated in all competitions, Arnold has attracted plenty of interest. His former club in the Netherlands, NAC Breda, are interested in signing him to oversee their youth development program that will be accelerated following the establishment of a partnership with English Premier League giants Manchester City.
Despite lingering in the second tier of Dutch football, Breda are looking to establish themselves as a major development club in Europe. Their offer would be a pay cut on Arnold's current deal with Sydney FC but is heavily incentivised around player sales and promotion.
Closer to home, Melbourne City are also understood to have signalled their interest in Arnold's services with coach John van 't Schip having confirmed his departure at the end of the season. Fairfax Media is aware of interest from Asia in Arnold, who was approached by Thai club Bangkok Glass before they signed Aurelio Vidmar as head coach.