With Ange Postecoglou taking the reins of the Socceroos, Guy Hand walks you through everything you need to know about Australia's new coach
Who is Ange Postecoglou?
He is 48, a former Socceroo as a player, and has won four domestic club championships as a coach. Two were with South Melbourne in the old National Soccer League. Two have come in the A-League with Brisbane Roar. He has also coached national youth teams. Postecoglou has most recently coached Melbourne Victory and is in his second season there.
Why choose him ahead of an overseas option like Guus Hiddink, or other local candidates Graham Arnold or Tony Popovic?
Postecoglou's success in both building style and substance at the clubs he's coached makes him the hottest coaching property in the country. There are also other reasons why Postecoglou may have been favoured.
Arnold and Popovic have only recently emerged from the Socceroos set-up. Arnold, a former Socceroos assistant to several coaches including Hiddink, had a go at leading the national team at the 2007 Asian Cup. It didn't go well.
Popovic played with many of the older Socceroos currently being blasted as over the hill. Unlike say a Hiddink or those with ties to the old guard, Postecoglou is not beholden to any current Socceroos players. He could then choose to detonate rather than renovate with no strings attached.
But this bloke failed with our underage teams and FFA didn't think he was good enough six years ago to keep coaching them. Why now give him the chance to coach the Socceroos?
Depends what you consider failure at under-17 and under-20 level. Postecoglou did get two underage Australian teams to the second stage of their respective World Cups. That's a big effort. He did struggle late in his tenure. But remember that was when there was no NSL, nor A-League. And he has learned much from that experience. Postecoglou has become a better, more worldly, no-bullshit coach, and his track record since 2009 is second to none among Aussie coaches.
So what can we expect from him selection-wise? Does he put all the old Socceroos out to pasture and rebuild from scratch for Brazil and beyond?
Postecoglou's modus operandi at club level has been to set out a style and get the players to buy in. Recalcitrants are slashed and burned, or marginalised.
An older player who can figure in his system – Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano would appear to be two – shouldn't have any problems. Lucas Neill will have to find form quickly, as Postecoglou demands the highest standards, fitness and precision passing from his centre-halves.
Youth will be given a chance. One of Postecoglou's greatest strengths is finding an unpolished gem in the state leagues ready for the step up to the A-League. So prepare for some selection bolters – young or otherwise. His track record in this area is impeccable.
Much will also depend on how much he wants to rebuild for the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil six months after the World Cup, and whether he uses Brazil in part for this purpose.
Possession football. Pretty to watch when it's done right. Build from the back, control through the midfield, attack with a variety of shapes in the front third and pour on the pressure to win the ball back when the other mob's got it.
That is how he rolls. Ange has shown no hankering for compromise nor pragmatism in his recent club coaching. He makes the players fit the style, or finds new players. It's unlikely this will change at international level since it's worked so well so far.
Postecoglou is also rarely a coach who makes excuses for his players, especially early in his tenure as he marks his turf. This has happened at both the Roar and Victory. Plenty of players will tell you privately that Ange can deliver a world-class spray which makes you loath to make the same mistake twice. He is also happy to apply a public blowtorch to those who he feels need it.
The World Cup is soccer's biggest stage. That's a big step up from the A-League. How will an international coach on his L-plates go against the world's best?
Intriguing question. Postecoglou knows what's coming and history suggests he personally won't be overawed.
He has recently coached an A-League selection and his club side against English Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Liverpool. Victory performed really well, playing the Postecoglou style, against a team currently riding high in the English Premier League.
Postecoglou has also shown he is prepared for his teams to cop a hammering short-term rather than compromise the gameplan long-term.
Roar struggled early in his tenure until the switch was flicked after a 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in 2010. Victory copped a 5-0 whacking from Roar in Postecoglou's second match at the helm in Melbourne. Both teams went on to steady and have success.
What happens when Postecoglou's Australia play a Spain, Brazil or Argentina at the World Cup will be telling. They're unlikely to go all defensive. The nation's reaction to a big-stage embarrassment at international level – should it happen – will be interesting. As will Ange's.
More A-League players in the Socceroos then?
You'd think so. Postecoglou certainly won't be a Pim Verbeek on the issue. He believes the A-League is a good competition, and there are plenty of players who could make the step up.
Are there any players who wouldn't have figured or were fringe dwellers under Holger Osieck likely to come into contention?
Plenty. Postecoglou will have a fair idea already of the players he wants. His selections are unlikely to tally significantly with Holger Osieck's.
Expect Alex Brosque – an Ange project from his Young Socceroos days – and his Victory skipper Mark Milligan to figure more prominently than under Osieck.
Harry Kewell? Postecoglou was planning to build his first Victory team around him until the Socceroos star left to return to England. A good domestic season, and Postecoglou won't hesitate to give him a recall.
A bolter? One player Postecoglou rates highly – and has the ability at his best to succeed at national level – is Melbourne Heart attacker David Williams. Postecoglou worked closely with Williams at underage levels, and rates him one of the best he has coached.
How Postecoglou views the Socceroos old guard will be fascinating. If tales of comfort and complacency among them are true, expect Ange to shake their tree big-time. There may be a few tickets to Rio plucked away from those we might have expected to be walk-up starts.
So is he the right man for the job?
In an all-Australian field, yes. He has the track record, he carries no baggage, he cares not for reputation. He will attempt to make the Socceroos play attractive, watchable football.
The question is whether he has the cattle right now to do so. If not, expect plenty of sacred cows to be slaughtered until he finds them.