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Daniel Levy’s Imaginary (Managerial) Shortlist: Ange Postecoglou

A bald, youngish Dutchman wasn’t the answer. What about a bearded Greco-Australian?

Celtic v Aberdeen - Cinch Scottish Premiership Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Subject: RE: Let us help you! (Manager search)

Dear Dan,

Holy hell it’s been a while, hasn’t it Dan? Quite honestly, we took a step back for a while because we thought you had it in the bag, but based on recent events it seems like you really do need our help. I know young Germans aren’t your style and apparently neither are bald Dutchmen. So how about a big ol’ huggy bear from Oz currently coaching in Scotland? We’ve got a candidate for you that I think might just fit the bill. See below.

Now, while we’re here, can we talk about the Director of Football?

As always, we’re here to help, Dan. Our DMs are open.

Yours etc.,

Dustin George-Miller
Cartilage Free Captain

The Basics

Name: Angelos (Ange) Postecoglou
Age: 57
Team: Celtic
Nationality: Australian
Cumulative ELO rating: 1611

The Specifics


A-league (South Melbourne, 1998, 1999; Brisbane Roar, 2011, 2012); OFC Champions League (South Melbourne, 1999); Asian Cup (Australia, 2015); J-League (Yokohama F. Marinos, 2019); Scotland Premier League (Celtic, 2022, 2023); Scottish Cup (Celtic, 2022, 2023)

The reporting has all said that Daniel Levy wants to appoint a young, progressive, and attacking manager to lead Tottenham into its next era and to break the club out of its doldrums. With Ange... two out of the three ain’t bad? At age 57, he’s the oldest of the main candidates for the position, but he fits the other criteria to a T.

Postecoglou is an Aussie, but his heritage is Greek, as his family emigrated to Oz when he was 5. As a player, he made 193 appearances for South Melbourne, mostly as a defender, a club he would later go on to manage and lead to two A-League titles. He also looked like on the right as a player, and as far as I’m concerned we should just give him the job now.

He’s had a long career already in management, having lead clubs in not only Australia, but also Greece, Japan, and now Scotland. He’s also managed Australia at the youth and full senior level. Each time he’s taken a short step up in managerial stature, but it wasn’t really until his stint with Celtic where people started to sit up and take notice. Now, according to recent reports, Postecoglou is the leading candidate for the Tottenham position.

He’s also apparently a really nice guy. We’ll get to that.


Ange Postecoglou plays attractive, possession-based football with a high press and a lot of verticality. We’ll mostly focus on Postecoglou’s two Celtic seasons, but it’s worth noting that he applied these same basic principals in his one season in the J-League with Yokohama, taking a team that finished 12th the previous season and leading them to the J-League title, a +29 point turnaround, and vast improvements in G, xG, and GD. Then he took over Celtic, where he transformed a team that finished 25 points behind Rangers the year prior, and led them to the league title with a GD of +70. This season? The same, only their GD was +80

Postecoglou’s teams are exemplified by verticality — they want the ball and want to progress it into the attacking third as quickly as possible. They do this by making a lot of short passes — Celtic drastically improved the number of passes/match pre- and post-Postecoglou. But this isn’t just patient recycling of the ball in midfield — Postecoglou’s teams play super direct and straight up the pitch.

Ange likes a back four, and typically deploys in a 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 with a high line; his CBs sometimes sit across the halfway line when Celtic have the ball in the opposition half. Interestingly, Postecoglou likes to play with inverted wingbacks that can tuck into central midfield to protect the CBs, because quite often the CMs are busy making runs into the box to create space or to receive the ball for a shot or chance creation opportunity. The wingers play a more traditional wide role and try and play 1v1 with the opposition fullbacks to widen the pitch, which leaves gaps that can be exploited by the lone striker, or by the midfielders. Postecoglou’s sides press dynamically and frequently, either trying to force turnovers or sometimes to harry defenders onto one side of the pitch, which again creates space for a quick switch if they can win the ball back.

This is a system that’s tactically similar to that of Pep Guardiola (a common theme in this series), Arne Slot, and Burnley’s Vincent Kompany. This leads to more shots, more goals, and — in theory — more points. It’s super fun to watch.


All this sounds pretty good, right? And it is! Ange-ball, like Pep-ball or Arne-ball, sure sounds a lot closer to the Tottenham Way than anything we’ve seen over the past four seasons, right? Tactically, Postecoglou knows his stuff, he’s been able to recreate that style in multiple clubs and in multiple leagues at multiple levels, and it’s the kind of tactics that can scale upwards quite effectively. The SPL is a lot (LOT) worse than the Premier League, but Ange’s success in Scotland shouldn’t be a knock on what he can bring to the table at Spurs.

Ange is also adept at turning over a squad — he brought in 14 new players his first season at Celtic by the end of the January window and improved them, a LOT. That’s impressive, and also pretty apropos for a bloated Tottenham side that needs to shift a lot of dead weight with no European football next season. He’s also a manager known for identifying and developing “moneyball”-style talent from lesser locations — he mined the J-League for Kyogo Furuhashi, who scored 27 league goals this season. J-League talent might not work in the Premier League, but the principle applies.

But more than that, Ange is apparently a really, super sweet and nice guy. He comes across as humble, grounded, and grateful for his opportunities in a profile piece printed in The Scotsman; the son of Greek immigrants who lost their livelihood during the Greek coup of 1967, Ange’s parents gave up everything to give their kids what they could not have. That sacrifice and his commitment to family colors everything he does. After a difficult few years at Spurs exemplified by dickheads and egomaniacs, that’s just refreshing and makes me want to run through a brick wall for him.

We’re supposed to talk about weaknesses too, so let’s list a couple of them. First, if Postecoglu’s offense is going to struggle, it’ll be against well-structured defensive teams that bunker and pack men behind the ball. That’s not a unique problem by any means, and while I’d hardly call myself an expert on Ange’s tactics, you have to wonder whether he has a Plan B and what that looks like when things aren’t working out.

I also wonder about what Postecoglou would make of this bunch of misfit toys that are Spurs’ wingbacks, bought special for Antonio Conte. Inverted wingbacks are great and all, but I think about attacking talents like Djed Spence, Pedro Porro, and Destiny Udogie, all known for bombing forward and getting into the box, and wonder about how effective they are as de facto defensive midfielders. Again, not a unique problem, but this Spurs team provides some unique challenges that I don’t know if Ange is equipped to handle immediately.

Finally, I know that I’ve spent some time trying to convince you not to worry that his biggest job is success in Scotland and that his tactics have scaled... but this would be the biggest leap up in competition in Postecoglou’s career. And you have to wonder if it would scale, or if he’d be given time to adapt and improve the team over the next couple of seasons. You’d like to think so... but it is a concern.

The Verdict

Likeliness of being hired:

Hahahahahahahahaha. God. I’d like to think he’d take it if offered. Moving from kicking ass in Scotland to a good (but not great) English side does feel like the next logical step, and I think he’d strongly consider taking it. But I thought that about Arne Slot, too. And Spurs have made a mess of the Director of Football position, something which is CRITICAL to any Spurs’ manager’s success and has reportedly also put some candidates off the job. (Choose hope.)

Grade if Hired: B+

I gave a B+ to Slot in my preview, and Postecoglu feels very much in the Slottish tier of managerial appointments. I think he’s a good coach. I think he could be a great one. There are still some questions, and the DoF position can be make or break to his success. But would I take Big Ange? Yeah, I would, so long as he gives me a hug before dropping four goals on Arteta and Arsenal next season.