Ange Postecoglou was previously close to me, and I saw a side of the Spurs manager that many people don't. This is why I predicted he would succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, writes KEVIN AIRS. - Flashfootballnews
Home » Ange Postecoglou was previously close to me, and I saw a side of the Spurs manager that many people don’t. This is why I predicted he would succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, writes KEVIN AIRS.
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Ange Postecoglou was previously close to me, and I saw a side of the Spurs manager that many people don’t. This is why I predicted he would succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, writes KEVIN AIRS.

One of my Celtic-dumb friends emailed me little over two years ago to ask who the hell this Australian man named Ange Postecoglou was. My response was easy…

ange
Ange Postecoglou

He could end up being the new Alex Ferguson.

In my 15 years as an editor for football bible FourFourTwo, it was merely a private DM between friends, but it was still perhaps one of the biggest calls I ever made.

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but two years later, I’m even more certain.

Although Ange was (nearly) always friendly to me, I refrained from being friends with him. I believe he could fit all of his journalist friends on the tip of one finger. Most certainly, his closest buddies would all fit on one hand.

Even in the middle of a World Cup campaign in Brazil, he would frequently patiently accommodate my absurd photographic requirements for FFT magazine covers and find the time for in-depth interviews for our long-form articles.

Because of our proximity and time together, I gained a unique understanding of his personality—which is not what you might anticipate.

Two years ago, one of my Celtic-dumb friends asked me who the hell this Australian guy named Ange Postecoglou was. Simple was my response…He may well develop into the next Alex Ferguson.

Ange Postecoglou spent his first three years at Brisbane Roar transforming Australian football, driving every opponent to reinvent themselves to compete.

At the A-League awards ceremony in 2010, Ange and his wife Georgia (shown here watching the Socceroos train in Brazil in 2014 with their oldest son James and their youngest son Max) were by alone in the opulent bar of a Sydney hotel ballroom, being shunned by the game’s influential figures.

Although I had been a part of FFT from its inception in Australia in 2005, I first met Ange at Brisbane Roar, where he arrived like the roaring lion rampant on the club’s badge.

Alex Ferguson.
Alex Ferguson.

Postecoglou was rescued from the cold, where he had been lingering ever since a brutal TV interview with former Australia captain Craig Foster in 2006, following his disappointing failure to lead the Young Socceroos to the U20 World Cup.

However, he wasn’t a humbled manager appreciative of a second chance when he was at Roar in 2009.

In order to make room for youth and a different kind of football, he barged in and tore up the team roster, ejecting players like Charlie Miller, a renowned Scotland veteran, and legends like Craig Moore, a Socceroo and a Rangers player.

It was a significant shift that initially failed to find its footing, week after week, match after match. Although you could understand what he was attempting, it appeared to be an unrealistic, naive dream that was not working.

Postecoglou’s three seasons at the Roar changed Australian football for good, requiring every competitor in the league to reinvent themselves in order to compete.

The era of haphazard coaching, fielding players with poor technical ability, playing players out of position, and using hail mary formations was put to an end.

An incredible 36-match unbeaten streak by the Roar, an Australian record across all codes, even in a salary-capped league, was launched by their brilliant, meticulously taught passing game that was heavily influenced by Barcelona.

Even though they were only at the beginning of their great adventure by the end of his first season in charge, it was obvious something unique was happening at Roar.

But because of that TV confrontation with Foster, Ange continued to be seen as the outsider, doubted by many, and derided by more. Few had faith in him.

Frenkie de Jong,
Frenkie de Jong,

He and his attractive wife Georgia stood by themselves in the opulent bar of a Sydney hotel ballroom during the A-League awards ceremony in 2010, largely being ignored by the game’s power players.

I used the opportunity to strike up a conversation and expressed my admiration for his efforts, despite the unsatisfactory outcomes.

Given his zealous advocacy of his opinions on Roar and his prior media background, I was expecting an abrasive dismissal, but Ange thanked me and we had a very cordial conversation for a long time.

His late father Jim, whom he has always wanted to impress, and Ferenc Puskas, the legendary Hungarian football coach who trained him as a player at South Melbourne, are two significant individuals who helped define him.

But Puskas’ deft football abilities weren’t what helped to mould the youthful Postecoglou.

Postecoglou remarked last year that it was more about his influence as a person. “There was never any arrogance in the way he treated us.” He was interested in us as persons.

Ange picked up the lesson quickly. He’s not a boisterous, explosive blowhard. Nowhere near.

Instead, he is reserved, humble, and I would even venture to suggest that he may be timid or at the very least quite introverted.

He rarely looks people in the eye when speaking to them, but just like his football, everything he says and does is meticulously studied and deliberate.

But don’t be fooled by that humility; not a shred of self-doubt exists. Ange has a self-belief that is unbreakable, bulletproof, and laser-focused in what he is doing and how to do it.

With players, he uses that distance to lethal effect. Even his captains admitted he rarely interacted to the Australian players I spoke to.

Instead, his assistants would convey his orders, leaving Ange to stand silently on the sidelines, pondering how he would dominate not just the upcoming game but also the upcoming season and beyond.

He keeps an eye on everything. Everything. Every player he has worked with will attest to the fact that nothing escapes his eye, and because of his all-powerful omnipotence, his word is divine in nature.

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