Arsenal women’s coach Joe Montemurro, the most high-profile name linked with the now vacant Matildas post, has questioned the timing of the bombshell dismissal of Alen Stajcic.
Hailed for his work with the Gunners since taking charge in 2017, the ex-Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City W-League boss, expressed his shock at Stajcic’s axing by FFA over “workplace environment issues”, while insisting he hadn’t given the possibility of taking up the baton “a moment’s thought”.
“The decision for it to happen five months out from a World Cup (France 2019), in terms of preparation and so on, you’ve always got to be concerned about that,” said Montemurro.
“I’m sure there were reasons for it, and I hope it’s in the best interests of the game.
“It’s a sad situation always when somebody loses their job. On the surface it’s an interesting decision so close to the World Cup.”
With FFA CEO David Gallop seeking to appease the widespread objections of Matildas’ players to the sacking at a pre-planned workshop in Sydney today, Montemurro, 49, said he has not been contacted or canvassed over the possibility of filling void, adding that he is focused purely on building on the success he has already achieved in London.
Having won back-to-back Premiership-Championship doubles during his spell with Melbourne City, Montemurro has already won the Continental League Cup with Arsenal, and well as leading them to the FA Women’s Cup final.
They currently lie second in the Women’s Super League, a point behind Manchester City.
“My sole focus is on Arsenal,” he said. “I’m exceptionally happy there and we still have a lot of work still to do to get us back to where we need to be.
“We’re making strides ... and hopefully we’ll get better. I have an important job to do here.
“Nobody (from Australia) has spoken to me, nor have I given it any thought.”
Asked what his reaction would be if approached by FFA, Montemurro played a straight bat.
“It’s very hard to say what’s wanted and what’s needed. I don’t know the extent of what’s happened there.”
Montemurro had regular contact with Stajcic during his time at Victory and City.
“He was the national coach and you respected the work he was doing, and tried to support him as much as possible,” he added.
“He’s done a fabulous job with the Matildas, and I wish him the best going forward.
“In my dealings with him he was always very professional and respectful. It’s disappointing to see what’s unfolded.
“The Matildas are now a very well known brand worldwide, and every other national team knows of their potential.
“Its a golden generation of players and they have the possibility to go far at the World Cup (having reached the last eight under Stajcic at Canada 2015 and the 2016 Olympic Games).
Other names to be linked with Matildas job include Brisbane Roar coach Mel Andreatta and Melbourne Victory boss Jeff Hopkins.
Australia host the inaugural Cup of Nations in late February against Argentina, South Korea and New Zealand, an important preparatory tournament ahead of the World Cup beginning in June.