Former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou made history by becoming the first n-raised coach to win a major international men’s tournament and lead the national team to soccer’s greatest stage, the World Cup.
But although Postecoglou has championed the n game and the virtues of n players and coaches, he doesn’t believe the FFA needs to hire an n to succeed him following his sensational walkout after leading the team to the World Cup in Russia just over a month ago.
In an interview with Fox Sports journalist Daniel Garb, Postecoglou said the game’s governing body should ignore nationalities and simply hire the best person for the job – albeit one they are convinced will be able to make a wider contribution to the game here and work within the culture of the sport as it has developed in .
“I just want it to be the best person for the job. Maybe it’s my naivety, I kind of thought I was the best person for the job … not because I happened to be n, but because of the circumstances there at the time, the rebuilding of the team, implementing a philosophy to understanding n culture, I thought I was the best man on this planet,” he told Garb.
“I think that’s what we need to do now – get the best person for the job, look at what the objectives are … I think they got my appointment right, I think they got Alen Stajcic’s [Matildas coach] appointment right … so if they stick to that kind of formula of clearly knowing what they want, just get the best person for the job.
“If that’s n, great, but I don’t like the separation of n coaches from foreign coaches.
“Stop categorising if you’re an n player or coach you fit into this box.
“I don’t buy into that but it doesn’t mean you discount the foreigners. But they need to understand our culture, our players. It shouldn’t surprise people there are a lot of imposters in the coaching world … but there are some genuinely fantastic foreign coaches who will bring something to the game.”
Head coaches of sports teams are supposed to have thick skins, but they still feel the criticism acutely, even if they don’t like to show it.
Postecoglou admits it was the searing criticism from a former Socceroo and now broadcaster Craig Foster a decade ago along with a throwaway inquiry from high-profile Fairfax writer Peter FitzSimons more recently that made him question whether he wanted to stay with the national team all the way to Russia.
Postecoglou admits it was a flashback to the incendiary interview he did with Foster on SBS while he was national youth team coach that helped crystallise his thinking about whether he wanted to continue with the Socceroos.
His reflection had been triggered 10 years after the infamous Foster grilling by a question from FitzSimons earlier this year, before played the UAE as to whether he would quit if the Socceroos did not win the match.
The juxtaposition a decade apart made him think seriously about his exit strategy and made him even more certain that when the time came to walk away he would do so on his own terms – as he did in sensational fashion last month after the win over Honduras.
“Absolutely. Your life’s experiences mould you and for sure, I think there was a point at the start of this year where … I went to do an interview on another station [Channel Nine] and the first question I was asked was ‘will you resign if you don’t beat the UAE?’
“And I’m kind of just sitting there and gone into a time warp of 10 years ago … after everything that’s happened.
“It jolted me a little bit. It didn’t steamroll things.
“The person who asked the question isn’t involved in the sport but as so often happens … when the Socceroos are playing … they glance at our game.
“They test the water by seeing what people in the game are thinking … people outside glance at the game and go ‘this is chaos’ – so that question was asked of me.
“I thought after everything we’ve achieved and the journey we’re on, qualification in our hands, I said I’m not going to go down that path again where I allow external forces to decide my fate. That wasn’t all of it but certainly a part.”
In the interview Postecoglou talks of his new challenge at Yokohama Marinos, in Japan’s J League, and also of his career in the game, both as a player, club coach and national team boss.
He said that his relations with the governing body, the FFA, were not the major reason for sparking his decision to quit, but he did indicate that the continued chaos around the game was a partial influence on his thinking.