Ange Postecoglou has been appointed as Tottenham Hotspur’s new head coach on a four-year deal. Postecoglou is set to become the first Australian to manage in the English Premier League and joins the club on July 1 after spending two years at Celtic, winning five domestic honours out of six, including back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said in a statement about the incoming head coach: “Ange brings a positive mentality and a fast, attacking style of play. He has a strong track record of developing players and an understanding of the importance of the link from the academy – everything that is important to our Club. We are excited to have Ange join us as we prepare for the season ahead.”
Postecoglou released a statement which read: “I would like to sincerely thank everyone at the Club for everything they have given me. In particular, Dermot, Peter and Michael and the Celtic Board have shown me tremendous support in every aspect of my time at Celtic, and I will forever be grateful for this.
“They brought me to the club, and I have worked so closely and so well with them for the past two years, I will always have a special relationship with them. They wanted me to extend my time at Celtic, and while I am so respectful and understanding of their position, a new opportunity has been presented to me, and it is one which I wanted to explore.
“It was an honour to be asked to be Celtic manager, and during my two years, I have given everything I have to deliver success to our supporters. Culminating in the Treble at the weekend, my players and backroom team have been brilliant for me on this journey. They have given us all some fantastic moments through their energy and effort, creating real quality, and winning football.
“Our supporters have been magnificent to me, and I thank them for the way they have embraced me during the past two years. My ambition was always to give our fans a team they could be proud of, a team people talked about, and I think we have achieved that. Celtic is a phenomenal football club, and so much more – and I will forever be a supporter of this great institution. I wish everyone connected with Celtic nothing but continued success.”
In February this year, Postecoglou was asked about his future and if he would move on if the first offer came in. He said: “When people say ‘he’s going to go down the road or somewhere else with the first offer he gets’ it’s not how I’m wired, it’s not how I think.”
After a disastrous 2020/2021 season, where the Hoops failed to win their tenth league title in a row that the Celtic faithful had been clamouring for the past decade, the club was left in a mess. More humiliation followed as Eddie Howe rejected the offer to take charge as manager. The Celtic board turned to unknown Yokohama F. Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou, who was ridiculed by Scottish football supporters and the media.
Talksport presenter Alan Brazil mocked Postecoglou on air while reading out the news that Celtic had applied for an exemption to UEFA as the Australian didn’t have the required pro licence to manage in Europe, saying: “This has got to be a wind-up, oh dear, oh dear.”
Co-host Ally McCoist asked Brazil how he thinks he would get on in Scotland. The former Ipswich Town man replied sarcastically: “Oh, I think he’d be a great manager. Where do they come up with these guys from?”
Many believed, including myself, that Postecoglou wouldn’t last in the job until Christmas, especially after a stuttering start to the 2021/2022 campaign. The Parkhead side lost three of their first six league games to Hearts, Rangers, and Livingston. Postecoglou’s side managed to turn a corner after the Livingston defeat and didn’t look back and won the League Cup on December 19, defeating Hibernian 2-1.
On February 2, Celtic breezed past Rangers 3-0 at Celtic Park to go top of the league for the first time that season. The Celts didn’t let their lead slip as they went on to be crowned Premiership champions, finishing four points above their arch-rivals Rangers and Postecoglou became the first Australian manager to win a league title in Europe.
The former Australian national team manager had proved many of his doubters wrong, especially Brazil, who apologised for his comments stating: “Listen, I am delighted. I like eating humble pie, and I’m delighted. I will apologise live, now. Ange, different class. What a job you’ve done. It’s fantastic, and I take it all back!”
The success continued in the 2022/2023 season for the former Brisbane Roar boss – defeating Rangers in the League Cup final 2-1, winning the title with four games to spare, scoring 114 league goals which is a post-war club record and beating Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-1 in the Scottish Cup final to secure a domestic treble.
The only real failure in Postecoglou’s tenure with Celtic was the lack of success they had in Europe. In his first season in charge, the Hoops were knocked out of three European competitions. This season, they finished rock bottom of their Champions League group only managing to pick up two points. The Scottish champions were in a group that contained Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig.
Postecoglou prides himself on playing fast-tempo, exciting, attacking football in a 4-3-3 system. He is a manager who is stubborn and refuses to change his philosophy, no matter who he’s playing against. Even though the former Celtic manager was only in Scotland for two years, he caught the heartstrings of the Celtic fanbase, with some even believing the Australian is worthy of legend status at the club.
It was clear as day Postecoglou wasn’t Levy’s first choice to replace Antonio Conte. With failed approaches for former Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann and Feyenoord manager Arne Slot – the Spurs chairman was under pressure to get someone in the dugout before pre-season begins.
The Lillywhites are in a mess after finishing 8th in the league, with no European football next season and enduring yet another trophyless season, which makes it 15 years since they last got their hands on silverware. Despite the current situation Spurs are in, the opportunity for Postecoglou to manage in the Premier League was too difficult to turn down. However, I don’t see it personally working out for the 57-year-old. If two elite-level managers like Jose Mourinho and Conte failed there, what chance has Postecoglou got of succeeding?
Ange Postecoglou did a terrific job at Celtic, nobody expected him to turn things around so quickly, but I think he’s bit off more than he can chew here. With Postecoglou not being Daniel Levy’s first choice, he will need to hit the ground running, or else his fate could end up like Nuno Espirito Santo.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Steve Welsh – PA Images