Football that belongs in Europe. That was the verdict of Adelaide United coach Reni Coolen last weekend after his side were dismantled by a 10-man Brisbane Roar outfit. No doubt the man behind the football had a big smile on his face, not just from Coolen’s comments but for those who doubted his coaching ability.
Ange Postecoglou is an enigma. The man single-handedly divides the opinions of football fans across the country. Praised for his successes at South Melbourne in the late 90s and then lambasted for his efforts with the Australian Under 17 and Under 20’s squad during the 2000s, the man has a fair share of backers and critics.
Postecoglou was no doubt feeling himself that the legacy of his coaching career was at crossroads when he joined Brisbane Roar in late 2009. He surely cannot be feeling that way anymore. Those same critics who once filled column inches dissecting his flaws are now filling those same inches with unequivocal praise.
So what has led to this turnaround in opinion? To use an age-old football cliché he let his football do the talking. While the pundits were lamenting the loss of talent in the offseason (Oar, Zullo, Moore, Miller) and predicting a bottom four finish, Postecoglou was busy putting into place the plan he arrived with late last season.
It’s a simple plan but one many coaches and managers all around the globe fail to implement successfully time and again. Getting your players to buy into the system. It doesn’t matter what system it is – 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 – if your players believe in it and stick to it, success will follow.
Where this plan falls down is often in the recruitment phase. Big personalities and precocious youngsters often have difficulty not doing things their way. But Postecoglou has successfully managed to surround himself with players who believe in his system and really who wouldn’t – the style is effectively modelled on the Barcelona and Spanish systems that have dominated football in the past 3 years.
There are no big signings or household names on the Roar teamsheet. Just a bunch of reliable players who play for themselves, their coach and most importantly, their system. Perhaps Sydney FC could take a few tips on this.
Postecoglou has proved that if he is given time with a squad he will produce results. The result in this case being the most effective and attacking passing football we have seen in the A-League since its inception. And perhaps that was the problem with his tenure as Young Socceroos coach, he neither had the time or the players dedicated to him.
It’s hard for some to forgive the man who was at the helm when the Young Socceroos lost to Laos and failed to qualify for the 2007 FIFA Under 20 Cup but if we are being honest right now, I don’t think Postecoglou really cares.