Opinion

Why ex-Socceroos coach Postecoglou deserves more respect

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Ange Postecoglou has been doing so well in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos that he has been linked with the national team post of Greece, the country of his birth.

The 2004 UEFA Euro champions lost 3-2 at home to Armenia last week and perhaps see the tactician as the man to get a stuttering Euro 2020 qualification campaign back on track.

An Australian coach in charge of a European national team would be seen as a major step forward by some but why would the May 2019 J1 League Manager of the Month leave Yokohama F. Marinos behind? Things are just getting started.

In his second season with the Japanese giants, the former Socceroos boss has the team set for a title-challenge and playing the way he wants. Well, almost.

Had the Marinos not thrown away a 2-1 lead with nine minutes remaining at Shimizu S-Pulse they would be sitting in second, just three points behind leaders FC Tokyo.

Instead, it ended 3-2 to the home team who climbed off the bottom. 

A little more ruthlessness and pragmatism could be the difference between such frustrating lapses but this is perhaps the price you pay for such entertainment.

Even in defeat, Yokohama entertain. It was a great advert for the J1 League.

Just a minute after Ange’s men took the lead, striker Marcos Junior was sent off and Shimizu hit back with two late goals.

It is no surprise that Yokohama are the top scorers in the 18-team division and have conceded more goals than any other in the top half of the table.

The coach likes to be on the front foot as much as possible.

It was also to be expected that this would take a little time. The first season was a tough one and the team finished just two points above the relegation zone.

There were times when the coach’s job was in danger but bosses showed patience and did not pull the trigger.

Now the rewards are being reaped.

If Postecoglou can mount a sustained challenge for the title it would be a major accomplishment, even just getting in the AFC Champions League places would be laudable.

This is a man who gave up the FIFA World Cup to step way outside of his comfort zone, way outside.

Japan can be a difficult place for a foreign coach, something that Graham Arnold, Postecoglou’s Socceroos successor, found out very quickly on a short but less than sweet spell at Vegalta Sendai.

There are certain ways of doing things in Japanese football and foreign coaches have to manage not just their players but other officials at the club and more.

Indeed, after buying 20% of the stake in Yokohama in 2014, the City Football Group were taken aback at just how different the culture was in Japan compared to anything they had experienced in running their stable of clubs in England, Australia, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The group also appreciate Postecoglou, what he stands for and the way he likes to play.

Nobody can say for sure what will happen this season. Yokohama are looking good but the J1 League is nothing, if not unpredictable.

What is for sure is that the team will keep trying to play football that is exciting, intelligent and ambitious.

It is also hard work. The team runs more than any other on the pitch in terms of clocking up total kilometres.

What Postecoglou is trying to do in Japan is impressive and deserves more respect and coverage back home.

Australian coaches overseas are thin on the ground as it is but here is one at one of the biggest clubs in one of Asia’s biggest leagues and not just getting good results but changing the way a team plays.

He has taken his philosophy to a foreign culture and had the strength, determination and vision to see it through whatever the results may be.

What he is actually doing is even better. Nobody can say where and how it will end but the ride is quite something.

A move to Europe may be on the cards at some point, but for now, he is right where he needs to be.