Thank you, Ange – you have transformed football in Australia

apaway Roar Guru

By apaway, apaway is a Roar Guru

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    “Ange just resigned.” I sent that text out to a lot of people this morning and all were dismayed.

    Although not all were rusted-on football people, they knew who Ange is, knew the magnitude of the news. The Socceroos coaching job has become the most important, highest profile appointment in sport in this country.

    It invites scrutiny worldwide, involves guiding a team into the biggest sporting event on the planet, and comes with a litany of history and a swathe of in-built opinions, agendas and ideologues. None necessarily right or wrong, but all passionate.

    Ange Postecoglou strode into the national team job in 2013 with a reform agenda. He had done much the same at Brisbane Roar and ended up changing the way the game is played domestically by building a side that played thrilling football and won things.

    Doing the same thing at a national team level was always going to be a bigger task but he defined himself early by making some hard decisions about the futures of members of the Golden Generation.

    Handed the most appallingly hard group imaginable at the 2014 World Cup (the previous champions, the previous runners-up and the champions of South America), his side inspired not by results but by style.

    The 3-2 loss against The Netherlands at that World Cup, after the Dutch had destroyed Spain in the previous game, was a watershed. This was how an Ange-coached national team was going to approach the task of matching it with the so-called superpowers of world football. Even Craig Foster loved it.

    It was the ultimate dichotomy that the Socceroos had come out of the 2014 World Cup with the worst record of any Australian side to have made it to the finals, yet with a sense of optimism and respect that the future beckoned more brightly than had been anticipated. It was clear that Ange thought long-term; he had started blooding young inexperienced players, using the cauldron of the World Cup to expose them to the pressures of international football as a certain Asian Cup loomed in early 2015.

    Ange Postecoglou Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    (AAP Image/Matt Roberts)

    For modern football fans, the date November 16th, 2005 represents the most electrifying moment in our recent history. On January 31st, 2015, that night was matched when Australia won the Asian Cup by beating South Korea 2-1 in extra time of a thrill ride of a final, at the same venue as the Uruguay game of 2005, the Olympic Stadium, in front of a jam-packed crowd.

    Ange had ridden the critics who had questioned the number of players he had trialled in the ensuing period, the selection of relatively untested young talent who ended up playing a huge part in the first ever international trophy for our men’s team.

    Watching that game from the nosebleed seats, picking up my fellow Socceroos fan in a large bear hug, it was a moment and game not to be forgotten, as Ange exhorted the crowd to cheer louder. And we did.

    Who knew then that the national team were to embark on a qualification campaign to Russia 2018 that would take in more travel miles and more games than any country has ever embarked on before? The Socceroos road to Russia was an implausible thriller novel where we got both the ardour (but inherently more fair) group stages and then two sudden death play-offs.

    It was almost as if Ange secretly revelled in this. Much was made of his shift from a 4-3-3 to a 3-2-4-1, with howls of discontent from the pay TV punditry.

    Ange Postecoglou and the Socceroos

    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    The last group game against Thailand saw the Socceroos amass 43 shots to 5, 24 on target to 1, yet a 2-1 scoreline that should have been quadruple that but for the width of the goal post and lack of a clinical number 9 saw the peanut gallery step up calls for the coach’s head.

    Ange didn’t change the formation, didn’t waver from the vision. You could call it stubborn, but it was ultimately self-belief as well as belief in the players. And in the end, it worked.

    Realistically, the tie against Syria ended up being more difficult than the one against Honduras. The 0-0 draw in Honduras might have been mystifying to Mike Sheahan but it was as important a result as just about any in the Ange era, as the Socceroos effectively swamped the Hondurans while allowing them only one shot on goal in the entire first leg.

    A Mile Jedinak hat-trick four days later had the side reviewing Russian travel plans for summer 2018, even if the architect of it all is now not going to be among the number.

    If there was one clue in the press conference that might have been a pointer to Ange Postecoglou’s decision, it was the comment that the last time he’d departed the national set-up, it was under acrimonious circumstances that took him a long time to recover from.

    This time he leaves on his terms, as disappointing as that may be for those of us who’d love to see him take the national team to Russia. He is a man of strong principles, a football philosopher as much as a coach. It is hard to think of anyone who has been able to transform the game in this country quite like he has.

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    The Crowd Says (57)

    • Roar Guru

      November 23rd 2017 @ 12:45pm
      Cousin Claudio said | November 23rd 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

      Good article apaway.

      Question for you – tactically and technically where do we go to from here?

      I can’t see anyone following in Ange’s footsteps and his style of play, so basically whatever he has achieved in that regard will be wasted.

      As much as he is his own man, there is a reason why we have a national technical director and all national teams need to pull in the same direction and not fight against each other. So as a coach, manager and referee in that respect I supported the FFA and their efforts to help ensure a consistent approach.

      I’m sorry that Ange has ended it this way, but in that respect I am pleased we will be getting a new national men’s football team manager.

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 3:56pm
        apaway said | November 23rd 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

        Claudio; where do we go from here? That’s a hard question to answer, but tactically we are now left with a squad that can potentially play in a number of different formations while maintaining the emphasis on possession and attack. The new coach, whoever that might be, will undoubtedly put their own stamp on how the team plays but the ultimate KPI of a coach is did he leave the team in a healthier state than when he got it. I think he has.

        In regard to a National TD and an adherence to curriculum (if that is what your comment alluded to – apologies if I’ve read that wrong), FFA now encourages coaches who are doing their A Licence to put forward their own football philosophy, rather than simply follow the direction laid out in previous licences. In fact, it is a pre-requisite of entering the licence.

        • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:15pm
          LuckyEddie said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

          Our junior national teams are failing badly so the new curriculum has been an unmitigated disaster. Our juniors teams cannot qualify for anything. In regard to the different formations we can play quite simply we could not beat Thailand and just got past war torn Syria thanks to the goal post. From there our tactically savvy team just beat a jet lagged Honduras , rated 69 in the world, with a deflected free kick and 2 penalties.

          If as you state the team is in a healthy position why did Ange bolt. Simple if the team gets a touch up in Russia, highly likely, the new coach will be blamed if they do OK it’s down to Ange. Ange is on a big win/win here.

          • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:18pm
            punter said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

            Lucky you not in charge!!!!!

          • Roar Guru

            November 23rd 2017 @ 9:46pm
            apaway said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

            Well, the team DID beat Thailand, so you got that wrong. And keep underestimating Syria all you like but they were a far better team than you seem to give them credit for. As for Honduras; I’m unsure what is wrong with a 3-1 aggregate win – most nations would have taken that. As for Ange “bolting”; if he does that and others want to assess the progress of the team in Russia in relation to him that’s their issue. It won’t be his.

          • November 24th 2017 @ 7:47am
            chris said | November 24th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

            Oh boo hoo eddie. The skys falling down!

        • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:25pm
          Melange said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

          Thanks for the article apaway, a good summary of an exciting few years of being a Socceroos supporter.

          Completely agree with your KPI too – did the coach leave the team in a healthier state? I agree that he has. I think we would probably agree on whether the previous three coaches did. It might be a good criteria for considering candidates too – I’ve heard Sven G-Erikson and Jurgen Klinsman mentioned, did they leave their previous teams in healthier positions? I don’t think so and I think it’s why I’d prefer an Australian, I think on the balance an Australian coach is more likely to have that consideration in their approach.

    • November 23rd 2017 @ 1:12pm
      Nemesis said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

      You never know how important someone is in your life, until they are no longer there.

      And the football community will understand this over the next 12 months.

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 1:43pm
        Cousin Claudio said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

        Come on, get serious. “Important in our lives”

        We would have qualified automatically if we had Arnie in charge for this WC campaign instead of Ange.
        And lets be realistic, with this team we will be very lucky to progress beyond the group stages at Russia, NO MATTER WHO IS IN CHARGE.

        Postecoglou is not taking up the challenge so all his rhetoric is BS now.
        In hindsight his words seem very hollow.

        I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter in our Australian football history and making some real, sustainable progress.

        • November 23rd 2017 @ 1:51pm
          Nemesis said | November 23rd 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          It’s got nothing to with this WC campaign, or this team. It’s Ange’s input in changing the playing standards across the football community. He did this with Brisbane Roar.

          That was a major transformation – not just for the club Brisbane, but for the standard all football coaches across this nation now aspire to reaching.

          PS: Be careful. You risk exposing your true Mr Aussie Rules identity if you continue punctuating your semi-positive football comments with the usual snide remarks … just like your mate Grobbelaar.

          • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:19pm
            LuckyEddie said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            No when he was at Roar he had the two best players in HAL, Berisha and Broich, at their absolute peak. Little known fact when Roar under Ange played without Broich they did not win a game. Ange owes those to players a lot.

            • November 23rd 2017 @ 6:42pm
              Nemesis said | November 23rd 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

              If you think Ange has not transformed the way AUS club coaches view the Game then you are either delusional, or too young to have seen any football in Australia prior to 2009.

            • Roar Guru

              November 23rd 2017 @ 9:48pm
              apaway said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

              I’m sorry, but you’re so wrong it’s head-scratching. Who RECRUITED those players?

              • November 24th 2017 @ 11:37am
                Cool N Cold said | November 24th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                Ange got Broich, then Broich introduced Berisha

          • November 23rd 2017 @ 7:24pm
            punter said | November 23rd 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

            You are 100% correct, you can really tell the AFL guys on this thread (the Mister Football ones).

            BTW UnluckyEddie, this is what Broich says.


            • Roar Guru

              November 24th 2017 @ 12:29am
              Cousin Claudio said | November 24th 2017 @ 12:29am | ! Report

              Nice try Pippinu.

              If in trouble always try and blame someone else.
              Learnt that from Tony Rabbit.

              I’m the real deal, not a weak imitation.

        • November 23rd 2017 @ 3:04pm
          LuckyEddie said | November 23rd 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

          It’s a win/win for big Ange. If the new coach does well it will not doubt be because of Ange and if the team fails it will because big Ange is not there. Ange cannot lose either way.

        • November 24th 2017 @ 11:42am
          Cool N Cold said | November 24th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          You have been active recently.

          Who should be the next Socceroos main coaching manager?

    • November 23rd 2017 @ 3:25pm
      chris said | November 23rd 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the article apaway.
      Whether you support Ange or don’t, the main thing he gave us was that he believed in the Australian team. He didn’t go into games looking to limit the scoreline or to get a point. He went into each game with the attitude of we can win this and in style. Didn’t matter if the opposition was Germany, Chile or Thailand.
      He may not have been our most pragmatic coach, but he was the proudest and the one who truly believed in our abilities.

      • November 23rd 2017 @ 10:57pm
        Fadida said | November 23rd 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report


    • Roar Rookie

      November 23rd 2017 @ 3:48pm
      Grobbelaar said | November 23rd 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

      Ange had a vision of lifting Australia up to the next level of world football (rather than merely being a good side in Asia).

      To be honest, there is really no evidence that we have risen beyond being merely a good side in Asia.

      • November 23rd 2017 @ 5:11pm
        punter said | November 23rd 2017 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

        Every long trip starts with the first step, come on Grob, even someone like you can understand that.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 23rd 2017 @ 6:55pm
          Grobbelaar said | November 23rd 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

          Well, we’re not going to end up seeing the evidence because Ange won’t be there for a 2nd WC. Now we don’t know whether Ange was just going to give us another three “honourable losses”.

          New bloke will come in, who knows what his philosophy will be.

          • November 23rd 2017 @ 7:08pm
            punter said | November 23rd 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

            Well being an AFL fan you are always a half glass empty type of guy.

      • November 24th 2017 @ 7:50am
        chris said | November 24th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Mr AFL did you miss us winning the Asia cup? You must have had your head in the draft news.

    • November 23rd 2017 @ 3:58pm
      Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | November 23rd 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

      Wonderful article Apaway, and what a fantastic tribute to Ange, the Football Philosopher. It will be a shame if Ange’s legacy isn’t continued.

      It has only recently dawn on me how defensive the 433 system really is, after witnessing the Ange revolution: the system, Ange adopted (the 3 at the back) from the greats, Guardiola and Conte, how good it was to see Australia go on the front foot as opposed to seeing us play a defence minded system.

      When we were semi pro, playing with more defenders screening the box—I thought this is the only way Australia can afford to play. Wrong!

      Ange, changed that, right from the beginning when he had taken over the reins, playing with confidence and zest. And I will have to admit I was dubious at the beginning—stunned at first, but slowly I came around to understand, how it was important to play with bravery, then I was converted and I have him to thank for that. We can match it with the best—if we believe we can play proactive football.

      Going back to watching Australia revert to pragmatic 433, or worse, the Mourinho ugly football, and even worse than that, the Pim Verbeek method of parking the bus; will indeed be hard to watch.

      As we don’t know, who will be appointed; I hope it will be an Australian born manager, with the guts to keep Ange’s legacy flying.

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 9:52pm
        apaway said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:52pm | ! Report

        It’s amazing, really, that there was such opposition to the change in system, given the top teams around the world at both club and national level deploy a three-at-the-back formation. Ange saw the evolution early – others are still trying to catch up.

        • Roar Guru

          November 24th 2017 @ 12:45am
          Cousin Claudio said | November 24th 2017 @ 12:45am | ! Report

          The opposiiton was more to do with the inflexibility of his approach than the system itself that he adopted.

          Even Guardiola’s Juego de PosiciĆ³n tactics were very flexible and not a rigid 3-4-3 system. It requires a very mobile and skilled approach that allows anyone on the field to be an attacker or defender.
          This goes back to the dutch team of the 1970s and the gifted Johann Cruyff and their “total football”.

          Australia didn’t have the skilled players or speed of execution to transform the playing surface into areas of possession and domination.

          The only time Ange’s so called “system” worked was when we played inferior teams who didn’t pressure us.

          Ange was totally inflexible, stubborn and arogant to the point of being rude and couldn’t handle any constructive suggestions from anyone.

          We have reached a dead end with no where to go now. Who ever trakes over now is going to have to drink from the poison challice.

          I wish Ange well in whatever he does, but am glad he has moved on.

          • November 24th 2017 @ 8:16am
            Post_hoc said | November 24th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

            I suspect from your writing you don’t actually understand what the term ‘total football means’, it is a common misnomer made by people that have read an article on it which told them it was about any player being able to play any position. This is not correct, this not how it operated in a reality and if you ever watched it in action you would understand that.

            Sorry but that very comment betrays the fraud you are Mr Football

            • November 25th 2017 @ 12:59am
              j,binnie said | November 25th 2017 @ 12:59am | ! Report

              Post hoc- You attempt to denigrate “total football” as played by the Dutch in a 4 year period 1974-1978.
              It is widely accepted in learned football circles that the term “total football’ was erroneously used by someone in the Dutch press and the description stuck despite the coach Michels strongly denying he had ever used the term, in fact the system as used by the Dutch resembled more a system used before the second world war by the Austrian National side .
              Re your further statement about “players playing anywhere”, that in fact is based on a “theory” put forward in the 1930’s by a football manager called Miesl who theorised, (note the word) that if 11 players of the same physical.mental and skill standards could be brought together they could interchange at any time. The theory was based on a human movements study that in fact it would reduce the amount of work to be done by a player simply by restricting the amount of running he had to do during a game.
              The Russians are thought to have been the first national team to try this out as early as 1945 by the famous Moscow Dynamos, who toured Britain undefeated, and of whom it was noted, their forwards constantly changed positions during a game. Cheers jb
              ps Meisl stressed that his theory was just that, a theory, for he admitted getting 11 players with the necessary perfect applications for playing the game was almost impossible, but it is a theory that has affected coach “thinking” for decades now. jb.

            • Roar Guru

              November 26th 2017 @ 10:50pm
              Cousin Claudio said | November 26th 2017 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

              We know who you are Pip.

          • Roar Guru

            November 24th 2017 @ 12:30pm
            apaway said | November 24th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Claudio, the system worked pretty well against Germany, Chile and Cameroon and I wouldn’t call those sides “inferior.” Ange’s was not a rigid 3-4-3 either. He sometimes deployed 2 holding midfielders, and sometimes only one. He sometimes selected attacking players to act as wing backs, and sometimes he selected more defensive players for those roles. There were times when he played with three rotating central midfielders, and times when he played with two.

            • Roar Guru

              November 26th 2017 @ 10:52pm
              Cousin Claudio said | November 26th 2017 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

              He’s always played with a back 3 even against Japan in japan, when a draw would have served us a lot better and given us a better chance to qualify.

    • November 23rd 2017 @ 4:06pm
      Gavin R said | November 23rd 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

      Ange has changed the football landscape in Australia in ways we will probably only fully understand in the next decade or two.

      A big part of Ange’s legacy comes down to who is appointed his successor. Perhaps an Australian will tinker with a similar system, with long term goals in mind, or we get a foreigner who looks no further than Russia, and perhaps the AFC Cup a little further ahead.

      With the latter, a lot of that hard work and progression is lost. The players believe in the system, too which is fantastic. I think we lack a class forward for the system to have much of an impact but its a lot better than other era’s we have recently let go of.

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