Ange Postecoglou’s methods work because he’s not a crazy person

Since Tottenham Hotspur soared to the top of the Premier League table, there’s been an influx of articles about the club and head coach Ange Postecoglou. The uniqueness of an ascendant Tottenham has captivated football journalists. Gone are the usual pieces on Pep Guardiola’s brilliance or Mikel Arteta’s whiteboard sketches. Now, it seems every football writer is desperately trying to figure out why Spurs, of all teams, are at the pinnacle of success.

Spurs’ resurgence is not just due to their new style of play under Postecoglou, but also because of his refreshing personality. These articles are rife with astonishment at how Big Ange has transformed a club drowning in bad karma. They marvel at his ability to establish new leadership, as noted by Dan Kilpatrick of the Evening Standard. They’re amazed that he knows everyone’s name at the club, including the staff, as revealed by David Hytner in The Guardian. And they’re surprised that he lets his assistants take the lead in training. There aren’t any lemons in sight.

But I must admit, I’m playfully teasing Kilpatrick and Hytner. Their articles are truly excellent and offer deep insights into Postecoglou’s methodology. Hytner describes it as rooted in “normality and authenticity.” It’s worth noting that such overwhelmingly positive pieces come from journalists who are genuinely taken aback by Ange’s transparent and talkative nature. It’s unusual in an industry where strong personalities often dominate.

Football managers, especially in England, are typically excessively driven and slightly insane individuals. The pressure to succeed is intense, and those who reach the highest levels of management are often obsessive and micromanaging. They ban ketchup, follow obscure philosophies, or keep fruit bowls in their offices to ward off bad energy. To be successful, it seems you have to be at least a little bit crazy.

But Postecoglou doesn’t conform to this norm. Surprisingly, he treats his team members as humans, trusting them to buy into his ideas and make good decisions. He respects their autonomy, maintains a healthy work-life balance, and openly discusses challenges. He supports his players in all aspects of life and allows them to learn from mistakes without fear of punishment.

Of course, Postecoglou isn’t perfect. He’s somewhat distant from his players both physically and emotionally, which may seem odd. He can be a little prickly, but never mean or cruel. He occasionally clings a bit too tightly to his methodology, even though it hasn’t failed him thus far. However, he acknowledges and works around these minor flaws to create the best circumstances for his players and staff. After all, nobody’s perfect.

In essence, Postecoglou is refreshingly normal. It’s abnormal for someone in English football to be so normal. In a game dominated by egotistical and manipulative personalities, Ange stands as a breath of fresh air. Hytner amusingly refers to Ange’s letting his assistants take the lead in training as “NFL-style coaching,” which seems bonkers to someone like me, who’s grown up with American sports. But in a world of craziness, Ange’s relative normalcy makes him a weirdo.

Liking your football manager isn’t a requirement, especially for Spurs fans who have endured their fair share of disappointments. However, it’s worth noting that Tottenham’s short-term success stems from a manager who doesn’t rage, bluster, or set unreasonable expectations. Big Ange eliminates most of the eccentricities associated with other top-flight managers. He may inspire his team, but you won’t find him sketching hearts and brains on whiteboards. He’s demanding and distant, yet fair, respectful, and accommodating. And the best part is – he wins!

Football players are weird, and football managers are even weirder. So, it’s strange to have someone so unusually normal in charge of Tottenham Hotspur. But hey, I could get used to it.

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