1. Attacking Football
Evidently not one for the “If it were done when tis done then ‘twere well we get a wriggle on” school of thought, Grandmaster Levy has given it a good couple of months before crossing t’s and dotting i’s on the arrival of our latest permanent Glorious Leader. But he’s here now – or will be as of 1 July apparently – so that’s plenty of time to give him the quick once-over.
The beady AANP eye has immediately been drawn to all this talk of Postecoglou playing attacking football. Of course, various adoring proteges have been queueing up as far as they eye can see to fete the fellow like he’s Cruyff reincarnated, so one takes with a decent-sized pinch of salt the drooling opinions of the man that have been circulating in recent days. Something of a hero to Australians and approximately 50% of Glaswegians, no doubt. In fact it’s been near-impossible to locate anyone with a bad word to say against him, which is pretty rummy going if you ask me.
But nevertheless, even in more objective circles, a consensus seems to rumble along that Postecoglou is not one to die wondering. “Live by the sword,” appears to be the anthem – and an anthem repeated irrespective of the opponents, which ought to make for some fun viewing in the coming months. In fact, so wedded is the fellow to his attacking principles, apparently, that he’ll instruct his troops to carry on swinging, even if they have already lost a few key limbs and are looking an incoming coup de grace squarely in the eye.
By all accounts, this chap is also rather a dab-hand when it comes to dishing out a motivational speech for the troops. I have to admit, I’m not quite as sold on this as various others. Nothing wrong with it, I suppose. Will make for good stuff on the next behind-the-scenes documentary, no doubt.
But if our lot can’t already summon the spirit to give every last ounce of sweat and blood for the lilywhite cause, without needing a spot of Henry V or prime Al Pacino to rouse them into it at half-time or whenever, then it strikes me that they’re in the wrong job. Some modern-day Churchill is fine, of course, then; but AANP is rather more concerned about this cove’s tactical acumen.
In terms of which, it sounds like the back-three, wing-backs and a two-man central midfield can all be shoved into a darkened room to gather dust for some time, because Postecoglou is a back-four sort of fellow. 4-3-3 to be more specific, and with full-backs tucking into midfield and midfielders spilling over into attack, as is so achingly fashionable these days.
All of which sounds pretty dreamy stuff over in this corner of the interweb, particularly after the joyless diet that has been shoved down the gullet by each of the last three chappies at the helm. No doubt I won’t waste any time in chiding the fellow for the kamikaze approach when circumstances call for a degree of circumspection, but it will certainly make a pleasant change from the dreary way of things under Jose, Nuno and Conte, what?
2. Newbie in England
The other concern is that he arrives in N17 pretty light on experience of managing in what might one might euphemistically term the more monied leagues. Compare him to Poch, for example, as pretty much the prototype for this sort of thing. A little green behind the ears M.P. may have been, but he still had 3 years in La Liga as well as 1 in the Premier League before arriving on our doorstep and snagging every last one of our hearts.
De Zerbi had seen a few managerial sights in Italy before his Brighton jolly; Slot knows his way around the Netherlands; and while I consider Xabi Alonso something of a bullet dodged, even he is currently picking up the monthly envelope in the relatively exalted surroundings of the Bundesliga.
You get the gist. Shiny pots in Australia, Japan and Celtic are a dashed sight more than I have ever collected on my travels, so if Postecoglou about-turned, jabbed a finger towards my face and demanded to know who the hell I was to cast aspersions on him, I wouldn’t have much in the way of damning riposte; but nevertheless. Ideally, one would have wanted a chappie whose backstory included a bit more slugging it out with Europe’s finest. (The fact that his European record at Celtic is pretty middling fare also makes one bite the lip a bit.)
And while absolutely wiping the floor with all-comers in Scotland is solid stuff – and he did so from a starting-point of some disadvantage, as I understand – I cast the mind back to Steven Gerrard, arriving at Villa fresh from similar success in that part of the world, and steadily making a pig’s ear of things.
There are, however, some decent counter-arguments simmering away. For a start, just about every pundit blessed with a pulse has been tripping over themselves to hammer home the point that there are a few similarities between the mess A.P. is inheriting here at the world-famous home of the Spurs, and the mess he inherited a few years back at Celtic Park. As I understand it, he took on that particular gig at a time when Celtic had finished 25 points behind Rangers, were haemorrhaging star players and had to contend with plagues of locusts and meteors falling from the sky upon them, amongst various other irksome challenges.
The moral of the story seeming to be that if you want a man to un-muddle a situation that has rather spiralled out of control at your once-proud football club, Postecoglou has spat on his hands and got down to brass tacks in precisely these circumstances before.
On top of which, the last fellow who made himself comfy behind the desk place, without too much big-league glamour on his CV, was one Martin Jol (blessed be his name). An illustrious history, it would therefore seem, is hardly a requisite for success at our lot. And when you consider that both Jose and Conte stalked about the place as if the whole dashed thing were beneath them, Postecoglou arriving for his own personal career highlight sounds a pretty solid bet.
(He also happens not to be Brendan Rodgers, which in AANP’s book goes down as a fairly hefty positive, but that’s possibly one for another day.)
3. Relationship With Levy and Chums
The principal draw of this Postecoglou creature is, as mentioned, his attacking football (and the more I think of it, the more I am drawn to him as some sort of modern-day Ossie); but an intriguing sub-plot swirls around his relationship with Daniel Levy. Put delicately, Postecoglou doesn’t really come across as some pliant puppy-dog, who likes to solve life’s troubles by rolling over and having his tummy tickled.
For a start, he looks rather a barrel of a man, which ought not to count for anything but does make one gulp at the prospect of exchanging views; and he also has rather an angry look about his map at all times – again, not a pointer worth reading into, but again, lending a bit of oomph to the overall impression. Far more pertinently, his reputation is apparently as one who goes in for the ‘Heated Argument’ approach to life’s disagreements, rather than ‘Conciliatory Peacemaker’, so quite how he and Levy settle differences of opinion will be anyone’s guess.
I’m also impatiently scanning the wires for hints about his transfer targets. By and large, our lot don’t tend to fling sackfuls of cash around with gay abandon each transfer window, so it’s probably safe to assume that Postecoglou will be shopping on a budget (although I’m rather encouraged by murmurs of Raya, Laporte and Maddison – and less so by echo of ‘Maguire’ about the place).
Apparently, however, the ability to pick up a bargain from amongst the great scrapheap of lesser-heralded mortals is one of the fortes of our new man. If that is indeed the case, then it’s probably another tick against his name.
Thinking about it, he will have an equally sizeable task in trimming some of the fat of the current squad, the cast-list already far too bloated, even before one considers that there is no European football to bung at the secondary members. There is also the question of what H. Kane Esq. makes of all this, but the identity of the new grand fromage is presumably just one amongst many factors swirling around in that chap’s mind at present.
All things considered, then, it’s a pretty satisfied AANP uncorking the bourbon at this announcement. Postecoglou might not have been the first name to have sprung to mind when Conte shoved his chair under the desk and stormed off without even a wave goodbye, but given this fellow’s experience with a similarly tough crowd at Celtic, and his commitment to a spot of the all-action brand on the pitch, I’m rather looking forward to seeing how this one pans out. All hail our newest Glorious Leader!