Spurs have tried the serial winners and failed. Ange Postecoglou might too, but at least this is a career high point rather than a passive-aggressive favour.
Spurs have a new manager. And Ange Postecoglou has even arrived from Celtic in plenty of time for pre-season. If it wasn’t for the elephant in the otherwise empty director of football’s office you could almost be forgiven for thinking this was the behaviour of something approaching a grown-up and coherent football club.
It is not, though, an appointment that has met with universal acclaim from Spurs fans.
And in trusting a delicate and far from assured rebuilding job to an Australian of all things, and one whose 25-year coaching career has never before taken him to a major league, Daniel Levy has certainly taken a thumping great gamble.
But unlike previous, Nuno-shaped, gambles there is at least a reasonable prospect of this one proving inspired.
As with Nuno, we all know Postecoglou was not first choice, despite Spurs’ ingenious ploy of briefing the media that they had never fancied them anyway after every other manager dropped out of contention – even going so far as to absurdly do so pre-emptively in the case of Julian Nagelsmann.
Unlike Nuno, Postecoglou gives off a vibe of being able to effortlessly shrug those doubts off and crack on. No worries, mate.
Also unlike Nuno, and this surely feels important, Postecoglou comes with a reputation for front-foot, attacking football. And if absolutely nothing else he’s pretty much guaranteed to be deemed to have Spoken Well, I Thought by all the heavyweight opinion-formers after his first press conference, which is also sure to contain at least one aggressively delivered “mate”.
And finding himself faced with a job and challenge on a scale he’s never before encountered is also nothing new. Just as some Spurs fans are deeply sceptical of a manager whose only success has come in Australia, Japan (this always delivered with the sneeringly dismissive second-syllable emphasis of Sir Ferg talking about Arsene Wenger) and Scotland, so too were Celtic fans about a manager whose only success had come in Australia and Japan (this always delivered with the sneeringly dismissive second-syllable emphasis of Sir Ferg talking about Arsene Wenger). It took about two months for Celtic fans to be won over and they are now distraught.
It could absolutely still go hopelessly wrong. It might be that this is the step that Postecoglou can’t make, the one that reveals his limitations. But it’s at least as likely that two decades of steady progress and development and improvement continues at a club that desperately needs something to work.
And a glance at Spurs’ own endeavours over the last two decades suggests Postecoglou sits far closer to the profile of managers who have gone well than the most recent attempts at big-time serial winners.
Most obviously and superficially, Postecoglou promises to combine the big dad energy of Martin Jol with the philosophy of attacking football and player development of Mauricio Pochettino. Even Levy’s welcome for Postecoglou contained more than an echo of those that greeted Pochettino’s arrival.
More importantly perhaps, but also like those two and also Harry Redknapp, he is without doubt a manager for whom this job represents a high point. A job that represents something a career has been building to rather than a job that represents something a career has come to.
That really might be the single most important thing Spurs gain here: a manager who will talk the club up – as Ryan Mason has gamely attempted during his caretaker reign – rather than the constant weary doing-you-a-favour-here negging and gaslighting that came to define Mourinho and Conte by the end.
We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some pretty notable improvement from several members of this supposedly uncoachable rabble of a squad. There’s potential for at least one Like A New Signing among the vast flotilla of footballers currently returning to White Hart Lane from loan duty around the continent.
If it does work out, Levy will have got extraordinarily lucky. Because he looked at plenty of managers just like the big names who’ve tried and failed. But he might just have landed on precisely the coach Spurs need.
A four-year contract, rather than the two that had been trailed in earlier reports, is a show of faith and acknowledgement that what is needed at Spurs now is not a quick-fix but a full rebuild.
But in the short-term, at the very least the football and vibes should improve. And while these undoubtedly have famous last words potential, it really won’t take much for results to also improve on those from a miserable second half of the season.
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