Ange Postecoglou may have finished fifth in the voting for the best FIFA men’s coach in 2023, but a glowing endorsement from a former Tottenham star showed exactly why the Australian boss is hot property.
Postecoglou was shortlisted for the award alongside Pep Guardiola, Luciano Spalletti, Simone Inzaghi and Xavi.
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Guardiola took out the award by some margin, with Spalletti and Inzaghi finishing with the second and third-most scoring points respectively.
Coaches would receive five points if they were voted first by the international captain, coach or media member, with second place gaining three points and just the solitary point for those in third.
Postecoglou finished fifth out of the coaches, but that’s not to say he did not receive any recognition from his colleagues or captains.
Tottenham skipper Heung-Min Son, who has flourished under the tutelage of Postecoglou this season, named the Aussie as his first choice for the award.
Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan also named Postecoglou as his first choice.
But the one player who will have raised a few eyebrows with his votes was Bayern Munich star Harry Kane.
Kane, who left Tottenham on the eve of the 23/24 Premier League season for Bayern in a $AUD169 million deal, put Postecoglou third.
Liverpool star Andy Robertson, a boyhood Celtic fan, also displayed his admiration for Postecoglou’s work by naming him as his second choice for the award.
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Veteran Portugal defender Pepe included Postecoglou in his votes too, with the Aussie voted as his third choice.
The respect shown by international skippers in their votes for Postecoglou emphasises the regard in which he is now held, especially given the revival he has overseen since joining Tottenham.
And Tottenham’s latest result, a 2-2 draw away to Manchester United, was more evidence to prove just as much.
Postecoglou named two goalkeepers and three outfield players from the academy on his bench for the Red Devils clash, with new signing Radu Dragusin, Bryan Gil and Emerson Royal the only senior outfield players among the substitutes.
Even in the starting lineup, Oliver Skipp and Destiny Udogie had battled illness during the week while Timo Werner was thrust into the starting lineup despite training twice with his new teammates.
First choice centre backs Cristian Romero and Micky Van de Ven also started, with the former “probably two weeks ahead of schedule” on his injury rehab while Van de Ven hadn’t played in two-and-a-half months.
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Throw in the absence of Son, James Maddison, Ben Davies, Yves Bissouma, Giovani Lo Celso, Dejan Kulusevki and Pape Matar Sarr, who are all absent through international duty or injury, and it paints the sheer scale of Postecoglou’s task at settling on a lineup.
Despite the lengthy list of absences Postecoglou managed to guide his team to a valuable point, although some felt Tottenham could and perhaps should have left Old Trafford with the win.
The draw kept Tottenham in fifth place, but are now equal on points with fourth-placed Arsenal.
It’s a remarkable achievement to be that high when one considers how many injuries Postecoglou has been forced to deal with.
But the fact his players continue to walk head-on through adversity and come out the other side which has the Aussie boss delighted.
“The only reason we’re in the position we are is because we’ve had players who are prepared to put aside whatever adversity we’re going through and give everything they have,” Postecoglou said in his post-match press conference.
“These guys are giving me everything, whoever is out there, whether it’s guys playing out of position, guys who haven’t played in a while, guys coming back from injury, they just give everything.
“It’s not always smooth but there’s no manager on this planet who wouldn’t feel like they’re in the right place when they see the kind of effort these guys are putting in every week.”
Postecoglou’s masterful ability to extract every ounce of effort from his side and have a clear, defined brand of football had pundits purring after the draw against Manchester United.
If anything, the fixture pointed to the staggering difference between Tottenham and the Red Devils, all because Postecoglou has a plan.
“There’s been a lot of praise for Tottenham and credit where credit is due, they’ve come a long way,” Premier League legend Paul Merson wrote in a column for Sky Sports.
“Look at where they’ve been in the last years, it feels like they have a plan now under Postecoglou. They have bought well, brought some good players and they are a good football team.
“They are a bit loose at times but they play entertaining football.
“The problem they have, a bit like Man Utd and Chelsea, is they can be inconsistent. They will have a poor result like the heavy defeat at Brighton. But then they can turn things around with a few good wins before another poor result.
“I like the way they play and to me, it looks like they are getting somewhere.”
Former England international Jamie Redknapp concurred and felt the fact Postecoglou and Tottenham are so vocally ambitious bodes well for the mood around the north London club.
“Postecoglou’s made them believe,” Redknapp said.
“He said they were in the title race, that’s refreshing for Spurs fans to hear. So often they’ve never really spoken like that or had that ambition that they should have.
“Right now, with their squad, and I’ve been critical over the last few years of how their style of play is, there’s a difference about them and the manager deserves so much credit for that.”
With Romero and Van de Ven back playing, Maddison nearing a return from injury along with the international stars soon to return, Postecoglou might finally have a full-strength team to pick from in the coming weeks.
Couple that with only the FA Cup to worry about outside of the Premier League and Postecoglou will undoubtedly fancy his chances of guiding Tottenham back to the Champions League.
If he can pull that off, it won’t just be the likes of Kane, Son, Robertson and Pepe voting for him should the Aussie be shortlisted for the best men’s coach again.