How much are we to blame for Postecoglou’s downfall?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    What does it say about Australia as a football nation when the most successful coach we’ve ever had feels like he’s been hounded out of a job?

    Here’s a question: how much does David Gallop know about football?

    It’s not a question we’ve heard much in the wake of The Herald Sun football reporter David Davutovic’s stunning suggestion that Ange Postecoglou will step down as Socceroos coach after next month’s inter-confederation playoff.

    But how much, really, does the chief executive of Football Federation Australia know about the game?

    Not the law. Not the ins and outs of the NRL, where Gallop was CEO for a decade. But international football.

    Because it seems like the most qualified coach the Socceroos have ever had will step down because he can no longer work for an administrator who never once has uttered a word to suggest he knows anything about the world game.

    Fox Sports analyst Mark Bosnich hit the nail on the head when he said Postecoglou’s demeanour changed the minute he was forced to apologise for saying it was “not good enough” for the FFA to be involved in a protracted pay dispute with Professional Footballers’ Australia going into the World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh in September 2015.

    Having been thrown under the bus by his employer, it now looks like the tables have turned.

    And the reward for fans who want nothing more than to forget the politics and simply watch the football is to be lumbered with a set of administrators who have somehow managed to alienate the one coach who managed to guide Australia to a major continental title.

    Socceroos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou (right) chats with assistant coach Aurelio Vidmar

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Is that what they’re getting paid to do?

    That’s not to absolve Postecoglou of responsibility. His actions for the past twelve months have been baffling.

    Either he’s more thin-skinned than anyone imagined, or more likely he’s been planning to exit the international arena for months and figured he might as well go out doing it his way.

    But when his way isn’t working – the back three, the personnel changes, the benching of Aaron Mooy – he has no one else to blame.

    Not Gallop. Not journalists. Not the fans.

    He may have felt like a coach under siege at times, but he’s travelled enough to know that our football environment is nothing compared to the pressure-cookers of Europe and South America.

    So how do we explain the transformation from swashbuckling Asian Cup winner to venom-spitting tactician with a one-way ticket to nowhere?

    Postecoglou’s biography Changing The Game may have spelled out his lofty ambitions, but in the short term his methods simply haven’t worked.

    It’s doubtful FFA understood them anyway. Sometimes the loneliest task can be trying to drag those around you up to your level.

    So what now for the Socceroos? If you believe the rumours, Postecoglou may be sacked before the games against Honduras. Or he may leave of his own volition.

    Ange Postecoglou Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    (AAP Image/Matt Roberts)

    Or maybe he’ll patch things up with his paymasters and lead the Socceroos in Russia after all.

    But in the wake of one of the strangest weeks in Australian football history, that last scenario looks impossible.

    Which is a shame, because Postecoglou should have been the greatest Socceroos coach of all time.

    But he’s tarnished his legacy, in the same way that those who cheapen the value of the jersey by performing goal celebrations for commercial gain have tarnished theirs.

    And we’re left to wonder what role we as football lovers have played in Postecoglou’s impending downfall.

    Because maybe a more mature football nation would have backed its coach more than Australia seems to have done.

    And maybe a mature football nation wouldn’t schedule an opening round of domestic fixtures which are completely overshadowed by the national team’s travails.

    And maybe a more mature football nation wouldn’t have a coach who resigns before a World Cup because not every single thing has gone his way.

    That last one is entirely on Ange.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.