Cult of Ange lives on in North London, but is it really that different?

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Had Ange Postecoglou not been signed by Celtic, a wider audience may never have witnessed his epic 2006 feud with Craig Foster. Postecoglou, then Australia’s national youth coach, seriously objected to Foster’s line of questioning during a live television debate. “I don’t sit in glass houses, friend,” was one of his statements. Postecoglou implored the former Australian midfielder to come watch training. “I don’t care what you think of me personally,” he insisted.

It’s YouTube gold, Ali vs. Frazier in verbal terms. It was also manna from heaven for Celtic fans. Here was a hitherto unknown manager who would clearly take no nonsense upon his arrival from Yokohama Marinos in 2021. Fans insisted Postecoglou would reduce a supposedly hostile Scottish media to dizzying ruin. There began the British version of the Cult of Ange, which continues apace in north London. It really is quite a phenomenon.

We can debate whether managers can learn from their approach to attack, defend or transfer business; What is undeniable is that few in modern football have cultivated a brand like that of the man who currently manages Tottenham Hotspur. The consensus is not simply that Spurs have a manager capable of doing the improbable in raising standards in the post-Harry Kane era, but that he is the true and forthright antithesis of everything horrible about the modern game. Effusive praise follows each of his public statements. Postecoglou apparently idolized Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in his youth. In Glasgow, he referenced the late Tommy Burns during a microphone-wielding on-field performance. He doesn’t knowingly miss out on any opportunity.

Related: Trophies matter, but Postecoglou is playing for the long term at Tottenham

Spurs fans love him because he is, at least so far, a marked improvement on Antonio Conte, Nuno Espírito Santo and José Mourinho. A Carabao Cup defeat to Fulham and the absurd defensive set-up against Chelsea are ignored because Spurs are fun again. Celtic fans have completely forgotten about their overnight escape to the Premier League and a dismal European record, on the grounds that Postecoglou’s success in England can boost their own club’s sense of worth in the face of competition. people from other places. From Australia, there is pride that a man whose playing career was spent much of it in South Melbourne can make strides in the world’s biggest league. If Postecoglou is criticized even slightly, a barrage of tongue grenades will fly from Sydney, Springburn and Seven Sisters. Trust me.

The 58-year-old is an excellent football coach. His modern adaptation of the 2-3-5, complete with overloads and marauding defenders, is the kind of thing people pay to see. The problem is that placing illustrious football figures on pedestals tends to generate disappointment. Postecoglou’s recurring sources of irritation cause him to scratch beneath the surface. We have reason to reflect on what it would be like if things got worse in a reasonable period of time. We don’t even need to go back to Foster’s episode to get a snapshot of alter-Ange.

While in Scotland, he mocked the arrival of VAR as if it were a complete irrelevance to him. He soon criticized its introduction, calling it “a bit of a mess” and criticizing “zero consistency” in “remarkable” decision-making. “I guarantee you that if that game ended 2-2 and it was the Rangers who were denied that decision, the conversation would be about how that was a title-defining decision,” he said of not awarding a penalty in an Old Firm. game. It is not that people should refer to the “old company” of the Postecoglou company; He objected to Celtic and Rangers getting together in an argument.

For Celtic coaches, this sort of thing works. The galleries enjoy it. Postecoglou was winning (nationally) while he was taking public hits, so he had the masses in the palm of his hand. However, this doesn’t really make him the different character that many want to portray. He was never likely to reject Spurs’ advances, but his refusal to adequately address this lingering situation in the run-up to his departure was condescending to the fan base that revered him. Yes, Ange was good for Celtic, but Celtic were also exceptionally good for Ange.

More recently, he was brusque with a journalist who dared to ask him if he dared imagine lifting trophies. “I have real photographs,” Postecoglou said. “Quite.” In fact, he has, thanks to work completed long before Celtic. This, however, was a curious thing for him to get angry about. He was further irritated by the questioner’s suggestion that he was “lucky enough to be able to do that.” Do not use the “L word” regarding Postecoglou. Michael Beale, then Rangers coach, did this and never heard the end of it.

Postecoglou wants it to be known that he has fought and fought for everything in his football life. The reality is that he has been lucky. Celtic spent months pursuing Eddie Howe with the aim of making him their manager. Inheriting a Spurs team that had finished eighth in the Premier League and does not have the problems of European football was also a gift. The only way was to go up.

Related: Spurs confirm £25m signing of Dragusin and Dier makes Bayern move

“Don’t question my integrity,” Postecoglou said, taking offense again when a journalist tried to correlate Eric Dier’s absence with an imminent move to Bayern Munich. The line of questioning was perfectly standard. He had said Oliver Skipp would provide “probably the only fresh legs” for a match against Bournemouth, where Rodrigo Bentancur duly reappeared after a month out through injury.

Perhaps the Bentancur situation was forgotten by Postecoglou. Perhaps the Uruguayan had an unforeseen recovery. Or perhaps Postecoglou is following the same path as many other managers over the years, by trying to be deliberately opaque about his selection issues. That would be absolutely fine. It simply goes against the widespread belief that Postecoglou operates to higher standards.

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