Thursday 15 August 2019, 05:01

The rise and rise of Joe Montemurro 

  • Joe Montemurro one of ten nominees for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach

  • The Australian took Arsenal to the title in his first full season

  • “We have an amazing vehicle to teach and become better people ourselves”

Joe Montemurro is fast making a habit of creating instant success. Last season the Australian returned Arsenal to the summit of English women's football in his first full campaign with the club. The fact that the Women’s Super League victory ended a painful seven-year drought for the previously dominant Gunners made the achievement all the sweeter.

Arsenal’s 2018/19 season was an emphatic return to the glory days for the North Londoners. They became the first WSL team to win nine games straight, reached the Continental Cup League final, and qualified for the UEFA Women's Champions League after a five-year absence.

Thoughtful, measured and unassuming by nature, Montemurro believed he was the victim of a prank when a former player indicated he had just been named as one of ten nominees for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach. He is one of only three club coaches named in the category for the 23 September The Best FIFA Football Awards™ in Milan.

Montemurro spent over a decade learning the coaching trade in Melbourne’s youth and semi-professional ranks, and even had a brief stint in Papua New Guinea. It was a long time coming but when he received his first chance coaching a senior team, the opportunity was grasped decisively.

Making an immediate impact is becoming Montemurro’s stock-in-trade. His debut campaign saw an unrated Melbourne Victory finish second, a best-ever ladder position they have yet to match.

But the best was yet to come. His first full season at Melbourne City delivered a level of success that is unlikely to be equalled in Australia’s W-League. Montemurro led the club to the title without dropping a single point throughout the 12-match regular season, before claiming the 2015 championship in equally emphatic fashion in the finals’ series.

So what has been the secret to success at Arsenal? “One of the most important things was clarity from the onset,” Montemurro told “Clarity of who we are, who we want to be, and then the three or four things that will bring everything together.

“Then also a focus on a process of sustainable recruitment. Not necessarily one that was going to bring a trophy straight away, but one with a variety of ages and with a focus also on the longer term.”

Cliched though it may seem, Montemurro can lay claim to being converted to an Arsenal fan as a young boy. The visceral colour and sheer joy of Alan Sunderland’s storied winner in the 1979 FA Cup Final resonated strongly with the nine-year-old watching a world away on a cold Melbourne winter’s night.

Now that 40-year journey has come full circle in an almost unimaginable way. “I have synergies with Arsenal in terms of the way we want to play,” said Montemurro. “Having a way of playing that suits the Arsenal way was important.

“We always say we want to play football the right way. Playing an attacking brand of football, keeping possession and trying to excite all encompasses the way I want to play the game. Arsenal is always going to be a team that wants to play a brand of football that is going to be pleasing.

“I take learnings from not only football, but people that are out there doing amazing things in other walks of life. In football, we have an amazing vehicle to teach and become better people ourselves, and that gives me inspiration.”