What a difference 12 months makes in a person’s career.
Ange Postecoglou, after his Brisbane Roar team swept all before them this season going on a 28 game unbeaten run smashing all previous domestic records, has the Australian football world at his feet. Both Melbourne teams, Victory and the Heart, have been reported to be showing interest in his services.
The FFA, now having taken over Brisbane Roar from its previous owners, is desperate to keep him at the helm on a long term contract to maintain the momentum in the Brisbane market which is vitally important strategically for football in this country. Everyone is dissecting the Roar game as the ‘blueprint’ of how to play and how to win because not only did they win consistently but they entertained and in football only the greatest teams achieve this. But, it was not always like this.
Only 18 months ago Ange was working in the Victorian Premier League for Whittlesea Zebras, taking over a team mid season destined to be relegated. The perception out there in the media, driven by analysts such as Craig Foster, was a foreign coach was a necessity if you wanted to win in the A-League. Vitezslav Lavicka proved this the previous year winning the A-League in his first attempt. Local coaches were simply not good enough they said.
How wrong they were. Sunday’s Grand Final had teams coached by Australians, two former NSL players and coaches in Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold, two teams that had proven through the course of the year to be the two best teams in the country and they presented one of the most memorable Grand Finals in the history of the game. A packed stadium of 50,000 people rolled up to watch this amazing match and they were not disappointed.
The journey began 2009/10 mid season when Ange took over from Frank Farina and wasted no time changing things to create the team and style he wanted to play. It was very clear early on it was going to be his team and his way. Australian legends Craig Moore and Danny Tiatto were shown the door as was Charlie Miller. The team struggled for the rest of the year as Ange transitioned his team towards the following season.
In the off season his task was made even more difficult losing Zullo, Oar and Sarota in one deal to FC Utrecht, three of the brightest talents of the A-League gone, along with star striker Sergio Van Dijk. The rebuilding of the squad was a massive task. Ange brought in 12 players pre-season and expectations were moderate as no marquee was signed and it was evident he was working with a modest budget.
This was highlighted by Ange being forced to sell Brazilian striker Renaldo and defender Luke DeVere during the season without being able to replace them, a striking contrast to rival club Adelaide United who were recruiting aggressively throughout the season, yet the team kept winning. Ange stressed it was always about the system and not the individual. Many have been surprised by the style and success of Angie’s management but those who followed South Melbourne in the late 1990s and was privileged to watch their back-to-back winning premierships may not be so shocked.
Ange, already a South Melbourne legend, being the only man to have participated in all four National titles, two as a player and two as a coach, now sits with the greatest coaches in the history of our game. We look forward to the next chapter.
Well done Ange!!