Ange; Analysing the Socceroos new leader

An analysis of the Socceroos new manager.

Ange Postecoglou accepted the role of manager for the Australian Men’s National Football Team, the Socceroos on a 5-year deal.

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) went after and got their man, as other supposed local/Australian candidates Graham Arnold and Tony Popovic were not even afforded an interview.

Is Ange the right man for the job? The one who will help our nation to a solid showing at the World Cup? The one who will drive us and our next generation forward?

Here are some key elements to what he brings to the table;

PROS:

Has worked with youth players
The head of coaching in the Youth Socceroos sides between 2000 and 2007 Postecoglou worked with developing current squad players including Josh Kennedy, Scott McDonald, Luke Wilkshere and Nick Carle. He went to three World Youth Cup’s twice making the knockout phases.

As the manager of Brisbane and not having the bankbook of Melbourne and Sydney worked with little funds and promoted relatively unknown players including Kosta Barbarouses, Mitch Nichols and Robbie Kruse; two of which have played in Europe, and all are capable of playing at a high level there in the future.

Knows the football landscape in Australia
He played in the National Soccer League (NSL) with South Melbourne, coached in the NSL with South Melbourne, and has coached the Young Socceroos on the back of successful campaigns with South Melbourne.

He most recently and notably led Brisbane to back-to-back championships in the A-League and was in his second year as Melbourne Victory manager. He extensively knows the local game both at grass roots, youth, and national league and has relationships with almost every player in the current roster of the Socceroos senior team and the potential players.

Elaborating on this, he understands first-hand what the pitfalls of previous gaffers have been and understands first-hand the feeling of the rest of the nation what it is to be an Australian player, fan and sport supporter in general; what is expected. In addition he has a clear idea of what it is needed to start getting back on track and reaching the goals that were set by the FFA prior to 2006.

Football philosophy
The way he approaches his teams, the way he sets them up, and their output is testament that he understands the game. Watching Brisbane Roar win their first title three years ago, and at the time with limited funds. His pickups in the market were specific to his requirements and players that would work in his functional setup.

Importantly his not backing down to playing a style of play, and his tenacity to help the Australian local game develop. By putting out teams that play out from the back, play short passes, close fast when without the ball, play with a modern system, and not back down on any game, he is just what is needed at the international level.

Direction and aim of teams
Working on a winning percentage of approximate of 50 percent since taking his role with Brisbane and spanning 5 years. His goal record shows he sets up attacking teams, and yet defensively they are sound. He plays from the back, presses off the ball and plays triangles all over the park.

His man management must be what makes the teams ticking. Treatment of all players noticeably different but players having accountability and at the same time belonging is key to successful sides.

CONS:

Dealing with big name players
Despite doing very well in his managerial career, and more importantly while his budgets were not great, he has had much success. He has not had the experience however in managing the big names, or at least for a long period of time. Although not playing under Ange, Harry Kewell is a name that springs to mind. He stayed only one season at the Victory and was moved on by Ange before attempting another go at Europe, but unfolded at the Middle East, and that unfortunately failed.

Is it that the big names are no competition for the standards that Ange sets out, or on the other hand is it that Ange does not like to be challenged in authority by the big names? He has the experience in commanding players like Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich, who both have German league and European experience but for some reasons have not been managed very well, that is until Ange.

In any case if playing with younger players or players that will follow his orders, he and the country will be better off.

Lack of European/World football experience
Ange has not played or managed in any overseas league or competition. Despite spending time with the Young Socceroos this department does let him down as he cannot draw real world experiences when formulating problems for his team to solve.

Did not play at the high level of play he expects of teams
This argument is not even valid. Despite not playing at the highest levels of the game in Europe he did play in the defunct NSL in Australia. We have seen with other coaches of top level clubs, namely Jose Mourinho and Andreas Villas Boas that playing pedigree is not as important as man management and communication of a clear idea.

THE VERDICT:
He will succeed – in the long run. The short lead time to the world cup will not give him the best chance of finding the best mix of young and experienced players that fit his playing style (of recent teams he’s managed). When the World Cup Draw is made then we will know if the Socceroos foster chances of getting to the knockout stages.

The argument for Ange clearly is that his vested interest is not ultimately getting another job, or the pay packet for this one. He genuinely has the nation’s best interests at heart and will do his upmost to ensuring we are moving forward once more. A foreign coach works much like a contractor – get the job done, with or without the quality required of the project and move on.

Now that it has all happened and reality sets in that he is the new boss, he can look back on his days in the A-League as a success. He went out a winner in his last game, and left that team better than when he found it. The Victory has since appointed former Assistant Coach Kevin Muscat to see out the rest of the year.

Best of luck to Ange; leading Australia’s hopes in Brazil and beyond!

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