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Postecoglou's still got it!

by Sebastian Hassett on Jan 05, 2012

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Sometimes I wonder why journalists have a bad name. Then I hear questions like the one posed to Ange Postecoglou on Boxing Day after their 1-0 defeat against Gold Coast United, and I'm given a shuddering reminder.

For those who missed it, the question put to Postecoglou was thus: "Ange, do you think you're now the 'easybeats' of the competition?"

The Roar manager was incensed, and rightly so. Fair dinkum. If those are the sorts of questions being put to the nation's best manager by our media, then I should probably return my degree. Mind you, South American readers of this blog will be keen to point out that press conferences in Brazil and Argentina often turn into all-in brawls or, at best, mild slanging matches.

It's been pointed out to me since that it was a radio reporter who asked the question, and that doesn't overly surprise - they're often under pressure to find the golden soundbite. Five straight losses? He probably thought he was onto a winner but I'm glad Postecoglou gave him a baking.

Anyway, this blog isn't about laying the boots into that particular journalist but more about the man on the receiving end. Boy, aren't some of you quick to jump off the horse?

Just over a month ago, the public was almost getting sick of the praise going the Roar's way. Those same people now think Brisbane has been exposed as nothing more than a facade, that they aren't really that much better than their rivals and could - according to Branko Culina and countless others in cyberspace - have trouble making the top four.

I find that argument hard to buy. I certainly respect Branko's perspective (he was the only coach not to be defeated by Ange Postecoglou last season) but I think the Roar will bounce back.
Have they lost confidence? Absolutely. Did the streak take too much out of them? Maybe. Are they beatable? Definitely. Are they broken? Absolutely not.

For those punters looking for a value bet, take whatever you can get on the Roar right now to win the championship. I think the return of Thomas Broich and Henrique (and to a lesser extent, James Meyer) will bring back the spark the team is currently lacking, and when that clicks back into gear, they'll be anything but easybeats.

Which brings me back to Postecoglou. Talk might have cooled about what heights he can reach with this team this season but every great manager will face a test of some sort during their careers. He's been shredded on national television by Craig Foster and bounced back to be at the forefront of the domestic game's tactical evolution. Overcoming hardship and navigating challenges are nothing new to him.

What I like about Postecoglou is that he's very much a solutions-based coach. Some might think he's wedded to a system that's been cracked by rival coaches but that is a load of rubbish. The system works - just ask La Liga fans.

It's now the players who have to step up. They've rested on their laurels for a month, let doubts creep in and not been a their best. They have to issue a challenge to themselves, to see how hungry they are, to see if they really want to go back-to-back. Do that, and they become one of the great clubs of Australian football history.

Talk of motivation and intent might seem outdated in the modern football discussion but it's a dangerous assumption to make that footballers get out of bed each morning hungrier than they did before. If players aren't prepared to work hard, and sacrifice themselves, then talk of 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 and whatever else is almost irrelevant.

Postecoglou's system is sound. I've got no doubt about this. He believes in it, and so do his players. But they need to pull their finger out on the effort scale, which has been lower than usual. Get that back up there and once again the Roar will be the team to beat.

If nothing else, you can certainly bet on that.