Ange the inspiration as Muscat looks to make his mark overseas


As the dust settles on the appointment of his successor, former Melbourne Victory mentor Kevin Muscat is aiming to follow the coaching path of his predecessor.

With Marco Kurz now in situ at Victory - where Muscat was a domineering presence as a player and coach for 14 years - the 45-year-old is, not for the first time, looking to Ange Postecoglou as an inspiration as he plots his next career move.

Postecoglou mentored Muscat as his assistant at Victory before taking the reins of Australia and most recently Yokohama F. Marinos, who sit second on the J1 League ladder 16 games into the season going into Saturday night’s duel with leaders FC Tokyo.

As well as sharing a similar football philosophy, the pair share the same agent, London-based Base Soccer, who represent the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.

The agency has wide tentacles and is headed up by Australian Frank Trimboli, with former Socceroos enforcer Vince Grella - Muscat’s one-time national teammate - also on the payroll.

However - as current Socceroos coach Graham Arnold and Perth Glory’s Tony Popovic will attest from short-lived stints in Japan and Turkey respectively - overseas opportunities are few and far between for Australian coaches.

While Postecoglou is emerging as a torchbearer, the trail is littered with impediments.

Muscat, who stepped aside at Victory last month after their shattering 6-1 A-League semi-final loss to Sydney FC, is just back in Australia after a European break in Greece, which included attending the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid.

The trek has only sharpened his desire to pursue an offshore role - if one should arise.

“I’m taking stock and reflecting at the moment,” Muscat told The World Game.

“It’s a matter of assessing what opportunities there are out there ... being realistic and seeing what’s next.

“Once I’ve had a bit of a break, and spent some time with the family and kids, it’s then about seeing what my ambitions are and then attacking them.

“The leagues in Asia are up and running and Europe will be starting again soon. We’ll have to sit down and analyse what’s available over the coming months.

“I’m not focused on anything specific at the moment but I’m certainly looking at something abroad.”

His representatives are already scouring several potential markets but age-old perceptions and prejudices over the bona fides of Australian coaches looking to push beyond the glass ceiling of the A-League still run deep.

The fact that Muscat masterminded 2015 and 2018 triumphs as a coach - in addition to 2007 and 2009 titles as a player - doesn’t necessarily cut much ice in Europe or Asia.

He was linked with the Rangers job - currently held by Steven Gerrard - back in 2017, having fostered a ferocious reputation as a cut-throat defender with the Glasgow giants during his playing days.

And Scotland may be a viable option for him. He might also be a shoo-in for the Olyroos job. But that is dependent on when current incumbent Arnold decides to vacate it.

Leading player agent Paddy Dominguez, whose client list includes Aaron Mooy and Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler, says the sheer numbers of coaching stock across the globe make it tough for Australians to break through.

But he sees no reason why they can’t be successful - so long as somebody is willing to take a gamble.

“Modern day management is generally built on three key areas: recruitment, man management and tactics,” he said.

“When you look at those three key pillars, there’s no reason why an Australian coach can’t be as good as anybody else at mastering each one.

“Similar to Australian players, one of the avenues for Australian coaches is the national team, which of course Ange Postecoglou has spring-boarded from into Japan.

“There’s also no reason why Graham Arnold can’t go over and manage a team in Europe at some stage.

“The A-League is only 14 years old and still has to grow in terms of its credibility overseas.

“It’s all about being a pioneer and Ange Postecoglou is possibly going to be that man in Japan if he keeps going as he is.

“In Kevin Muscat’s case, he may not have the national team CV but he has done well in the A-League and he knows the landscape in both England and Scotland from his playing days (Rangers, Wolverhampton, Crystal Palace and Millwall).

“He knows what it’s like being in a dressing room in Europe and all that background knowledge is an advantage for him.”

Reflecting on his Victory years, Muscat added: “I had a great time there - I couldn’t have enjoyed it much more to be honest. But everybody moves on now.”

The question for Muscat is: where to exactly?

“You can’t have a time table,” he concluded. “It was nice getting some European sun. Let’s see what happens now in the next couple of months.”