The Celtic manager is expected to join Tottenham and he has spoken previously about how he transforms clubs with a process that needs patience
Ange Postecoglou has explained how he transforms the football clubs he joins but it is a process that Tottenham fans will need some patience for and he will require help from chairman Daniel Levy.
The 57-year-old Australian is expected to be appointed as the new Spurs head coach this week after leading Celtic to the domestic treble and rebuilding the Scottish club from the inside as Postecoglou has done throughout a career that has taken him across his homeland and Japan, having won the Asian Cup with Australia and qualified and competed at the World Cup.
Postecoglou’s fast, possession-based football has brought plenty of envious eyes across Europe, with Brighton said to be interested in appointing him last season but unable to prise him away from Scotland. Now he is set to bring his brand of football to the Premier League with Tottenham instead but as with the doubters when he first arrived at Celtic it is going to take time for him to make the changes required amid the scepticism.
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In an insightful podcast recorded three years ago for Anthony Hudson’s Masterminds – Elite Coach Development series, Postecoglou was asked whether he had ever questioned his methods. The Australian admitted that although the early weeks and months of his tenures can be rocky as he makes the changes required that’s when he’s most sure about the path forward.
“I haven’t [questioned my beliefs] but plenty of others have and that’s what we have to deal with as managers, coaches and leaders. I tell coaches all the time, you usually get appointed to the role because wherever you’re going, whatever club or organisation it is, it means they’re probably not going too well,” he said.
“The clubs that are going well and are on a certain path, they rarely appoint new managers, they keep going. So when you get appointed there’s an opportunity there to put in place what you think will make the club more successful.
“Wherever I’ve been, the initial part is always rocky, because my ideas are… well they’re not extreme to me but I can see how they can be seen as extreme from the outside. It takes a while. Usually it can take me six months, it can take me a year to really bed them in, depending on how many opportunities I have to change the playing squad and the staff and all those kinds of things.
“Through that period when inevitably the results are not there, there are questions all the time and that’s when, more than ever, your beliefs do get tested. Now I bizarrely enough enjoy those times. I enjoy those times when the outside is questioning what I’m doing because it just brings out the real resilience in me and my beliefs even more.
“I get more nervous when things are going well and I question myself when things are going well because I think what’s the next layer, what’s the next step and the next evolution of what we’re doing? I don’t doubt or question myself when we’re putting things in place because I know the results aren’t there and I know people sometimes can’t see what I’m trying to do.
“Through that time, that’s when I’m the strongest about what I do. I’m strong because I’ve had success with it wherever I’ve been and when you’ve had success with something you kind of understand that we’ve just got to batten everything down and put a real focus on what’s ahead and don’t worry about what’s incoming in terms of doubts and scrutiny and that’s when I’m the most certain about what I do.”He added: “As a coach I think, particularly if you’re a coach who has a long career, there’s no doubt there’s going to be moments when we’re questioned and scrutinised. Normally that happens fairly regularly, irrespective of what success you’ve had. If you look at a current day manager, it could be Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola at the start of this year, it doesn’t matter what success you’ve had, if that success starts to wane everyone gets questions, you’re all going to get scrutinised.
“You need to embrace that. That’s the bit that really confirms your beliefs. I always say to coaches that if you want to know what your philosophy is then I would say ‘if you had a game this weekend that would determine whether you had a coaching career or not, how would you play?’. That’s your coaching philosophy.
“If your natural inclination is ‘if it’s that big a game and that important then I’m going to set my team up that they’re hard to beat and we don’t lose, we don’t take risks’ then that’s your journey. Embrace it, take it and make it what you want.
“I know that if there was a game this weekend that would define whether I have a coaching career or not I’d go for it all out and try to win that game by as many goals as possible. Once you embrace that as a coach you don’t fear the challenging times. As I said the hardest part is when you’ve had success and deciding what the next layer is. That’s the most challenging for me.Postecoglou also spoke about the process of how he goes about changing a football club and he hinted at the story he will likely tell those at Tottenham when he arrives this month.
“Obviously when I first started 22, 23 years ago I was a different person in many respects. I was a younger man. Life changes you inevitably because you go through different experiences and that shapes you as a person. From that perspective I probably do things a little bit differently,” he said.
“The core of it is that I still live and breathe what I believe. It’s not about me coming in and making decisions that are trying to make a point or trying to steer people in a certain direction. Everything I do or say, the decisions I make will reflect how I want us to play football.
“You’ve got to be fairly brave and courageous to play the football I want so one of the most important things I try to impact on players and the staff, the people working with me, is that I will back them 100%. The responsibility lies with me. I’ve always said to them that the losses and mistakes are my responsibility because I’m the one getting you out there to play in this manner.
“They probably don’t believe a lot of that because they’ve probably heard it many times in the past but there’s been many times early in my tenure in my jobs when we’ve tried to play out from the back and inevitably we’ll cough up goals as we try to do so, whether that’s from a goalkeeper or an outfield player. That’s when the people around you are looking at your reaction and how do you react to that.
“I think that once I gain the players’ trust and they know that I’ll back them in every scenario out there so they’ll have no fear. The bravery comes with taking a leap and you do have the parachute that I’ll protect you if things don’t go well.”
He added: “Then it’s just living and breathing everything I do, the kind of people I surround myself with. Whether that’s staff or players, when bringing players in. It’s not just about bringing in players that are talented, because the world is full of talented players. The way we play and other teams play, a player needs to have a certain kind of skillset but just as importantly he’s got to have certain characteristics as a person.
“Some players don’t want that responsibility and don’t have that bravery to play the way I want so the recruitment part of it becomes important and the people I surround myself become important.
“Every beginning I try to tell them a story. A story that everything remarkable that has been achieved in this world has been achieved with people either not believing it can be done or with people doubting it can be done. When I begin the story I tell them that what we’re embarking on now is something that’s going to be looked upon with sceptical eyes and there will be a lot of pessimism and misunderstanding about what we’re trying to do, but that’s how you achieve remarkable things in life.”We know what’s known out in the world because it’s already been achieved. It’s about what can we do that’s unknown and to do that you have to be brave and take risks and you have to believe in something that sometimes is not tangible. I guess by telling that story and telling it in chapters and I’m always predicting the next step for them, players and staff and clubs buy into it more and more.”