The Big Issue : Edition 475
THEBIGISSUE9–22JAN2015 15 “The position he’s in now, for me, that’s completely understandable...if I can hark back to when Frank [Farina] took the [Socceroos coaching] job, he was held up as this young, progressive coach who had been successful in the NSL [National Soccer League] and so on. Then a short time later, the same media that had brought him in were absolutely slamming him. Ange is in the same boat. And because of that, in some senses Ange understandably comes across as guarded.” The defining features of Postecoglou’s coaching strategy are that he is prepared to take backward steps and make hard choices in order to reposition and advance effectively. Sermanni commends his approach. “He has a terrific record as a coach, he’s taken a gamble going offshore, he’s gone through a period of receiving criticism that was extremely unfair...” Sermanni says, referring to Postecoglou’s ill-fated Young Socceroos stint in 2007. “He had zero time, budget or preparation... And he’s come back from all that. I’ve got great admiration for him.” Postecoglou’s most notable achievement to date is revitalising the Brisbane Roar A-League team. The early days of his tenure were characterised by an unsentimental cleanout of old-guard, hard-men players such as Danny Tiatto and Craig Moore. (He’s exhibited a similar lack of sentiment in showing ageing Socceroos the door, such as then incumbent captain Lucas Neill.) Instead, Postecoglou put his faith in younger players. He also recruited Thomas Broich, now twice crowned ANGE POSTECOGLOU TIM CAHILL the A-League’s best player, but then largely unknown to Australian fans. Broich had been close to quitting football after frustrating seasons in the German league, and credits Postecoglou for helping him fall back in love with the game. Postecoglou arrived too late to salvage his inaugural Brisbane Roar season – the team finished second last. But the new coach asked for – and was given – 12 months to prove himself. Soon, Brisbane began playing attractive, possession- based, attacking football that raised the league’s bar. The team embarked on a 36-game unbeaten run, which broke the previous Australian undefeated record, and won back-to- back titles amid chants that included ‘in Ange we trust’. Postecoglou was hailed a genius – his risk taking had been revealed to be more investment than bet. He was duly given time to implement his strategies at Melbourne Victory, where he had moved in 2012. When he was appointed Socceroos coach in 2013, it was for an unheard-of five years and it was on his terms. But time and patience are the two things football clubs and governing bodies, desperate for immediate outcomes, can rarely afford. The latest victim of this is Postecoglou’s successor, Mike Mulvey, who was shown the door just six poorly started games into the A-League season, and only six months after leading Brisbane Roar to its third A-League title (the team had won the previous two under Postecoglou).