Sport

In Praise of Postecoglou.

God, I love Ange. I was saying this to my eldest laddie (who makes every home game he possibly can these days). While Eddie Howe pissed about and didn’t take the job because he couldn’t persuade his coaching team to join him before joining the Saudi backed Newcastle, Ange turns up – alone – self-isolates for ten days then works with the coaching staff and the players he has available. Rebuilds. Wins a cup. Wins the league. No Excuses, as Henrik’s tee shirt used to say.

The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he reminds me of someone who has ironically precisely zero interest in football – my father. Like him, Ange just hits the right tone every single time, in every situation. As he did, brilliantly, today. Jings, I hope I’ve inherited just a wee bit of that.

Today’s response to the clusterbouroch of a speech at the Football Writers Dinner was a great example of his healthy moral compass, his deep humanity – and his empathy.

“Not appropriate but a teaching moment”, he said.

I love that.

That was precisely the maxim drilled into me by the veterans in my speakers club. They’d give you a proper shoeing but you always left feeling positive, because constructive criticism was followed by friendly advice. Ange might say: “you f****d it today (mate), but here’s how to do it better tomorrow”. I really like that. Way classier than a Twitter piley-on. You don’t throw anyone under a bus and you allow space to improve but at the same time you leave no-one in any doubt as to what you thought of what was clearly an appalling, racist, misogynistic, utterly dreadful speech.

Ange brings that outsider’s perspective and holds a mirror to the bampottery that is Scottish Football – and in this case, wider Scottish society. We could fairly use some of that. While what we see might not always be pretty, it’s healthy that he can make us, as Burns said, see ourselves as ithers see us.

I’ve always enjoyed biographies of people that present the whole person, and not some sanitised version. I take the same view of the country I live in. I honestly believe that, rather than boasting then cowering, in Scotland’s journey towards the normality of independence, taking ownership of all aspects of our history and our national character is crucial in the quest to become the modern, flawed, honest and progressive nation that we tell ourselves we want to be, but whiles shy back from presented with the kind of opportunity that Kyogo Furahashi takes in his sleep. And it’s lovely and ironic that in what the great William McIlvanney called a proudly mongrel nation it was today a Greek Australian managing a Scottish football that helped us, in a small but significant way, take a good look at ourselves. And as ithers see us.

And the football? As Alex Ferguson would I’m sure say – of both his boyhood club and the one managed by Ange Postecoglou?

Bloody hell.

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