Ange Postecoglou: ‘He made you feel invincible’ – what Tottenham can expect from new boss

Ange Postecoglou may not be the high-profile appointment some Tottenham Hotspur fans were calling for but the 57-year-old’s CV shows he could be the antidote to a club in serious need of direction.

The first Australian to manage in the Premier League will be tasked with reenergising a patchwork squad – that may or may not include the greatest Spurs player of a generation in Harry Kane – cultivating a more positive and productive culture and creating a brand of attacking football craved by the fanbase since the end of the Mauricio Pochettino reign.

Postecoglou has a track record of delivering on the above with previous rebuilding jobs leading to league titles in Australia, Japan and most recently a Scottish treble with Celtic.

He also has a self-proposed commitment to playing dynamic, attacking and energetic football he demands must be “pleasing to the eye” but “with a purpose”.

Matt Smith won back-to-back titles under Postecoglou at Brisbane Roar and says the boss was not content with simply winning, he wanted to “change the whole scope of how Australian football was perceived”.

“Ange’s massive strength is his ability to be able to bring players along that journey and buy into what he does,” the former Brisbane captain tells BBC Sport.

“There’s zero tolerance for players that don’t want to follow. We were never made to feel comfortable, we were always pushing to be better, always developing, always working harder than any group I’ve experienced before.

“It didn’t matter if you were the biggest player in the dressing room or the youngest – if you weren’t pulling your weight or following his principles, he was very ruthless.”

After winning the Asian Cup with Australia, Postecoglou created a similar legacy in Japan. He took over a Yokohama F Marinos side suffering from an “identity crisis” and turned them into J League champions.

“Ange really gave the club purpose,” explains Dan Orlowitz from the Japan Times.

“It was a refreshing style of football that the league hadn’t really seen. Even when YFM struggled results-wise in 2018 it was very clear that the players and above all Ange believed in what he was doing.

“The fans believed in him as a result, and over the next year he let go of players who weren’t a good fit for the system and brought in players who were a great fit. All of that added up to the triumph of 2019.

“It was exactly what you’ve seen at Celtic – not just 11 players, but 11 attackers, a disciplined and fluid build-up from box to box that moved like water and was nigh unstoppable.

“YFM fans loved it and opposing fans respected it – even when they were on the wrong end – because it was just such a joy to watch.”

Wherever Postecoglou’s unique and varied footballing journey has taken him, he has silenced any sceptics.

He was relatively unknown to Celtic fans when he arrived in Glasgow two years ago.

But on the day his departure was announced, after winning five of the six domestic trophies available to him, chief executive Michael Nicholson labelled the Australian a “great football manager and a good man”.

“He understands what makes players tick, he commands respect, he has a presence, he’s a motivator and he’s got a good record in the transfer market,” said BBC Sport Scotland’s chief sportswriter Tom English.

“His mantra is ‘we never stop’. He’s a tough cookie. He’s not some kind of Australian Ted Lasso, but he has an inspirational quality – he gets people. He loves a project and building something from the ground up.”

His new boss, chairman Daniel Levy, has already identified Postecoglou’s “strong track record of developing players” and “understanding of the importance of the link from the academy”.

That is something Spurs have lacked under previous bosses, with Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte brought in as “win-now” appointments and in return demanding players of similar ilk.

Smith, one of 11 players recruited when Postecoglou ruthlessly went about shaping his squad before a first full season at Brisbane, says the Australian never wastes an opportunity to educate players.

“There is no hiding,” adds Smith. “He had an uncanny nature of knowing how to motivate you and saying the right things.

“His message was always very clear. It was his way, he backed his way and he backed and supported you. He made you feel invincible.”

How does Postecoglou implement his style of play?

At Tottenham, one challenge facing Postecoglou when he analyses his new squad will be deciding which players, including those seemingly cast out and returning from loans, are capable of playing the front-foot football he demands.

Smith remembers being called out in his first training session for attempting a 60-yard diagonal pass.

“He just pulled me up straight away and said ‘Matt, we don’t do that here. You look for combination passes, you look for short passes, you figure out and work out the problems’,” explains the former defender.

“We trained harder than we played for the bulk of the time. We were always playing out from the back, always finding angles and pockets and spaces, manipulating lines and working on three or four different segments of play.

“He loves his teams to have the ball, so he is not a coach who is going to sit back and look to counter. He will be very aggressive on the front foot. That was a simultaneous demand, that whenever we lost it we would win it back high and quickly.

“It was high-risk back then, but that was his ethos – never to get comfortable, never to assume that anybody is safe, and that really propelled the group.”

After a turbulent few years, Spurs have also appointed someone who, in his own words, understands the “privilege” of managing a top club.

“I understand what an honest day’s work is about,” Postecoglou, who left the military junta regime in Greece at the age of five and relocated to Melbourne with parents, said after taking the Celtic job.

“I don’t feel like I am working every day, I feel like I am living a dream that was founded by other people’s sacrifice, particularly my parents.”

Adblock test (Why?)