SATIRE: Australians love sport and they love winners. Having led Scottish giants Celtic FC to the premiership title that’s why they now love me so much, writes Ange Postecoglou.
Mate, you might remember the famous ‘quote’ about Alexander the Great, King of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon; it goes like this:
Who said it?
Plutarch perhaps, or Anaxarchus, maybe even Aristotle who was, after all, Alexander’s mentor and teacher?
Wrong. It was Hans Gruber, the German criminal mastermind whose plan to extort $640 million is thwarted (accidentally) by Bruce Willis’s character in the movie Die Hard.
It’s a fake quote see, one with absolutely no historical basis, Alexander didn’t weep because it was job done, why would he? He celebrated, enjoyed the win, then girded his loins and prepared for the next fight.
And, mate, that’s what I’m going to do.
In the words of Plato – and he really did say it: “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself”.
When I came to Scotland to manage the famous Glasgow Celtic, there were many who doubted me.
Not just here, but back home, a number of ‘experts’ (names redacted to save embarrassment) said I wasn’t up to it, that I’d pull the pin when the going got tough, that I was a quitter, a one-trick pony, a bottle merchant.
Lots of words there, lots of supposed descriptions of me, too many.
Only one word is required, and that’s the singular word I have for all of them.
READ ALL OF ANGE’S SECRET DIARY
VOLUME ONE: The Malaka Files
VOLUME TWO: More Malaka Files
VOLUME THREE: Even More Malaka Files
I came into a club, a set up that was moribund, not dead but barely breathing, in decline on and off the pitch, beaten to the title by Rangers, our cross town rivals, which wouldn’t have been so bad except they were only slightly less skatá than we were which made the fact they finished 25 points ahead even harder to bear.
I’d been given what’s called a ‘rolling contract’ which meant they could sack me at any time if the results weren’t in our favour. No compensation, nothing. A test.
It didn’t come easy.
We lost three out of our first five games, looked disorganised and vulnerable, a situation not helped by the fact I had to win over my backroom staff, all of who claimed not to have ever heard of me before I got the job.
They’ve heard of me know – because gradually, slowly, painstakingly, I turned things around.
Seventeen – count ‘em – new signings, from Japan, amongst other players.
Furuhashi, Maeda and Hatate. Giakoumakis, Jota and Abada. And Joe Hart, an English international goalkeeper everyone said was as washed up as the seaweed on St Kilda beach.
We played good football, exciting football; 96 goals in the league. 29 wins, six draws and only those three early losses. All season.
But, more importantly – if there’s anything in football more important than winning – I did it with dignity.
No histrionics, no moaning, no arrogance or conceit.
In a city where hatred is a way of life, I showed courtesy and respect toward our rivals, never once indulging in the petty one upmanship and baiting some of my predecessors may well have employed.
I kept my counsel, never lost the plot, concentrated on making the team, the club, the game, the thing.
Which it is.
I’m Ange Postecoglou. I’m a winner.
But I’m also a decent human being.
And now, what’s next?
Already, because nothing in this game stays static, the rumours are starting. Manchester City, one of the world’s biggest clubs are said to be my ‘admirers’ and of course I know many of the people involved given that I was coach at their sister team in Japan, Yokohama F. Marinos.
Other clubs are said to be interested. Apparently, I’m now ‘well respected’.
I’ve been a football coach for 25 years. I’ve won two A-League premierships, an Asian Cup, the J League and now the Scottish Premiership.
I’m well respected? I should be, don’t you think?
Not that it matters to me what other people think, I don’t care.
As we say in Greece, ‘sta arxidia mou’, – write it on my balls. And I don’t mean my soccer balls.
Alexander the Great didn’t sit himself down and get out the handkerchiefs because he’d done all there was to do and I’m not about to do that either.
I’ll enjoy the win. I deserve it. We deserve it.
Then we go again.
Games to win. Trophies to lift. Worlds to conquer.
But with respect for what’s right. Dignity, self-respect and integrity.
In the words of Aristotle:
That’ll do me. Ange Postecoglou is far from finished.