Raw mastermind behind Brisbane juggernaut
Ange Postecoglou, the phenomenal coach of Australian football, talks to Neos Kosmos
This week I have the opportunity to interview South Melbourne Hall of fame legend and three time premiership coach Ange Postecoglou who comes to Melbourne with his all conquering Brisbane Roar. On Saturday night he will lock horns with former team mate and fellow South Melbourne hall of famer Mehmet Durakovic and his side the Melbourne Victory.
We were very fortunate that Ange to took time out of his busy schedule to give us an extensive interview before Saturday night's blockbuster game:
NK: Ange, welcome home to Melbourne this weekend. Your last defeat was on 11 September 2010, in Week 6 of last season. Since then, you've played 32 games, for 21 wins and 11 draws. In that time Roar has scored 75 goals scored, and 28 conceded - and picked up both the Championship and Premiership.
It's been a phenomenal run, how hard has it been to keep up this momentum?
AP: Oh yeah, it hasn't been too hard because from our point of view we have not been focusing on the result but more on the way we are playing, the performance rather than the result, and that takes away the pressure a little bit. We try and play better than the week before and the results take care of themselves. Players have been good at focusing on that and obviously they are growing more confident with the positive results every week ... momentum is built from that. The players believe in what we do and I make sure they focus on the right things.
NK: You rebuilt the team in your first off-season, and this season you've had to replace a number of key players - and everyone you sign seems to be working out perfectly. What are you doing differently to the rest of the league?
AP: I can't comment on what the rest of the league is doing but from our point of view we have a clear plan and vision of what we want. We are very selective of the type of players and people we bring in to the club. Recruiting is never foolproof ... there is an element of risk involved, but we have our criteria of what we look for and this has been serving us well of late.
NK: The system you use was clearly a tremendous success last season, in the off season we were expecting other clubs to bridge the gap after studying your team. Do you find that other clubs are trying to recreate what you are doing?
AP: This is something you can't control but one thing we wanted to do was work really hard in the off season to improve on last year and our mind-set was: if other teams were trying to improve from last year we had to come out and improve and get better. I am sure other teams would have got encouragement if they saw we hadn't [improved]. We work on the premise that the other teams would be trying to get close to us and that we had to get better to keep ahead. The will to improve, the motivation to become better is what keeps teams ahead.
NK: The fitness and conditioning of the Roar has been outstanding, you always seem to outrun your opposition and the concentration and mental discipline of the side is switched on for the whole 90 minutes. Are you using the same conditioning system used by Guus Hiddink which has become well known throughout the football industry?
AP: People tend to emphasise our fitness because we finish games very strong but the essence of our game is to have the ball and you actually do less running when you have the ball than when you are chasing it. We work hard at training, for sure, but the fitness part of our game in training is based on playing. During preseason we worked on our game plan more than running without the ball and you will find that we finish stronger than our opposition because we generally do less running in the 90 minutes. That's a key element of what we do.
NK: Was it the perfect match last week in all your years of coaching? You have been coaching for some time now. Was that pretty close to the perfect Postecoglou performance? 7-1 against Adelaide United.
AP: It was probably one of my most satisfying games as coach. We hadn't conceded a goal all year and the first goal of the game we conceded and people questioned how we were going to react falling behind ... the players responded magnificently. They played some fantastic football, particularly in the first half, the way we played ... there has not been many games I have been involved in that my team has been that comprehensive against a very good team who are expected to challenge for the title. We were playing some strong opposition. We did everything right on the night. It was a pretty complete performance by the players, I could not fault the way they went about things.
NK: Going back to the Grand Final last year, you had done everything right all season, you were by far the best team both in style and results yet five minutes to go and 2-0 down your dream was close to collapsing: how did you feel when it seemed like it was all going to be taken away from you?
AP: From my point of view you stay focused on the game and you don't have a chance to think about the overall result and what it all means. I still felt we were in the game even though it looked like a tough task. We were concentrating on trying to get one goal and we knew Central Coast would get nervous. The game was going so fast you don't have time to think about the ramifications of losing.
NK: Brisbane is obviously a different city to Melbourne. Are they embracing this record breaking champion team that is playing some of the best football seen in this country?
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