Aussie Coaches Giving Global Football a Kick

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Football, or soccer to use its local colloquialism, may never surpass Aussie strongholds such as AFL, NRL or cricket in popularity terms down under but there is no denying it has grown exponentially in recent years. This has been evidenced by a number of top-grade players progressing to ply their trade in prestigious and lucrative foreign leagues in the likes of the UK, Europe, Japan and the USA.

Australia v China PR - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

DOHA, QATAR - SEPTEMBER 02: Tom Rogic of Australia strikes the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Australia and China PR at Khalifa International Stadium on September 02, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

Progression hasn’t been merely limited to the playing personnel, however, as a number of promising Australian managers and coaches such as Ange Postecoglou, Kevin Muscat and Pete Cklamovski have been making waves of late.

In keeping with this month’s Brilliant theme of ‘Aussie Made’, we take a closer look and profile a couple of these coaches.

The trailblazer

Postecoglou unquestionably leads the way and has been very much the trailblazer for aspiring Aussie football coaches for many years. Following a successful playing career in domestic leagues and for the Socceroos national team during the 1980s and 90s, Postecoglou advanced into management. After successful stints with the likes of Brisbane Roar and Melbourne victory, he progressed to take the top job for the national team, managing the Socceroos for a four-year period between 2013-2017.

Socceroos Training Session

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 12: New Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou watches players training during an Australian Socceroos training session at WIN Jubilee Stadium on November 12, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

During his tenure, the Socceroos performed admirably in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in a tough group including holders Spain and the Netherlands. They then won their first ever Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup a year later against South Korea.

After securing qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Postecoglou somewhat surprisingly resigned to take up the hotseat at Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan’s J-League. It turned out to be a prudent decision as Postecoglou guided the club to their first J-League title in 15 years, becoming the first Australian manager to win a league title in Japan in the process.

It was, however, Postecoglou’s next move that truly brought him to the attention of a global audience when, in June this year, the then 55-year-old was appointed manager of Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic.

Heated rivalry

Celtic are one of the most successful, popular and widely respected professional clubs in global sports with an estimated worldwide fan base of close to 10 million people and over 160 supporters clubs in over 20 countries. Steeped in history, their success and influence since their founding in 1887 has been immense and their rivalry with cross-city opponents Glasgow Rangers is one of, if not the most, heated in any international sports encounter.

Since 2011 they Celtic won the domestic Scottish Premiership league title a staggering nine consecutive times, number 10 only being denied by, of course, Rangers. Celtic had a traumatic season in 2020-21 as they were usurped by their rivals and the immediate future seemed bleak.

Postecoglou’s appointment was met with suspicion and derision in equal measure by fans and commentators alike, with only a few die-hards prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and the one commodity now so often lacking in the game: time.

He got off to a shaky start when the club failed to beat Danish side FC Midtjylland over two-legs in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round.

However, since then and the start of the Scottish League season at the end of July, Postecoglou has over seen a remarkable turnaround in form as his team won seven games on the bounce, playing some of the finest football witnessed at the club in recent years. As FoxSports commented, “the football that’s worked so far has been his trademark stuff; quick, expansive play in a ‘no fear’ approach that looks good on the eyes, and often on the scoresheet.”

‘Messianic figure’

Fans have quickly been won over, impressed by how the team have changed and improved under their new manager.