Fresh twist on classic Ange story as A-Leagues hero says: ‘He knows now is his best chance to go to the Premier League’

This week on The Players Pod with Robbie Cornthwaite, A-Leagues Legends Erik Paartalu spoke about Ange Postecoglou’s incredible coaching rise.

A-Leagues legend Erik Paartalu believes now is Ange Postecoglou’s “best chance” to make the move into the Premier League, with reports surfacing overnight that the Celtic boss is one of the top candidates for the vacant Tottenham Hotspur position.

Miguel Delaney from The Independent broke the news that Postecoglou is being “strongly considered” by the Spurs hierarchy to take over as their new manager, after Feyenoord boss Arne Slot decided to stay put.

Spurs have now turned their attention elsewhere, and Postecoglou is reportedly one of the names being considered for the top job alongside Sporting’s Ruben Amorim and Spain manager Luis Enrique.

Earlier this week, Paartalu – who played under Postecoglou as part of Brisbane Roar’s Isuzu UTE A-League Championship winning side in 2011 and 2012 – joined The Players Pod with Robbie Cornthwaite and spoke about what his former coach has gone on to achieve since leaving Australia.

He thinks now could be the best time for his former boss to make the leap into one of the football world’s top roles, praising his judgement when selecting the best coaching role throughout his distinguished career.

In season 2022-23, you can listen to Robbie weekly on his new KEEPUP podcast – The Players Pod, with Robbie Cornthwaite. Listen below or on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

“The thing that amazes me with Ange Postecoglou probably is just his hunger,” Paartalu said on The Players Pod earlier this week.

“How many coaches would have gone to Japan and gone (and) clapped their hands together and cut their way through Asia and take some deals in China or Saudi? His decision making to make the right jump at the right time has been perfect.

“He jumped into Japan at the right time. He went to Celtic at the right time to rebuild and he had to get instant success but now we’re seeing him at that crossroads again and I think he’s going to jump…

I think he’s that hungry, he knows now is his best chance to go into the Premier League.

“I was there when he first got appointed (at Celtic), I was doing some interviews with the BBC at the time and I said to them ‘the hardest thing you’re going to have to do with Ange Postecoglou is to keep a hold of him in two or three years’ and they were all laughing at me and asking ‘who’s Ange Postecoglou?’ This and that.

“I said ‘just wait and see’ so it’s nice if you go to a country like Scotland where football is just life or death and he’s changed opinions there. I’m sure he’ll go into bigger and better things.”

Brisbane dominated the A-League Men under Postecoglou’s tutelage, going on an incredible 36-game unbeaten run en route to two Championships and a Premiership during his three seasons in the sunshine state.

Paartalu was one of his chief lieutenants, marshalling the midfield from deep alongside the likes of Matt McKay, Mitch Nichols and Massimo Murdocca throughout a very successful period in the club’s history.

Now retired, Paartalu spoke about what it was like to work under Postecoglou and how he got the team to buy into his philosophy, which translated into the ultimate success.

“It was just the absolute belief that we had in him and you know what he’s like in terms of the way he holds himself as a bit of a police officer,” he said.

“He’s not like what Arnie (Graham Arnold) is described as a man manager, put his arm around you and talk to you. Ange is more of a tactician and a guy that you walk into a room and you’re a little bit intimidated by, and you have to have those sorts of players that want to buy into what his philosophy was.


“I think we had the right ingredients but a lot of players with a lot of things to prove. (Michael) Theo was coming back from overseas. (Shane) Stefanutto did his ACL coming from Fury. ‘Smithy’ (Matt Smith) was starting his career quite late. Thomas Broich had a point to prove. I had a point to prove.

“In that dressing room, we already had the guys that were hungry to try and change our careers and we knew that if we listened to this guy because, throughout the whole of the preseason, we were playing this amazing brand of football. I mean, you could see the success.

“The way that Ange got us all to get on the same page was just his way of fine tuning things in video sessions and it was the first time I’d actually done any video analysis, stepping into a professional environment and he would just make you feel really important.

“My job as a number six was to maybe go and run 70 or 80 metres to track back, but he’d point it out in the video and say: ‘see Erik doing that, that’s what I want in my teammates, I want someone to do that’. so you felt like you were very important in terms of being in the 11, you craved his feedback, you craved his attention a little bit and that’s the way he controlled us.

“It was never let’s go and have a coffee together. It was a ‘morning boss. How are you going?Yeah, good’ and that was the relationship we had for two solid seasons.”

Cornthwaite asked Paartalu about his experiences with Postecoglou off the field, harkening back to a famous story Ryan McGowan told of his time under the Celtic boss’ tutelage while he was playing in the national team.

McGowan told the Sacked in the Morning podcast last year that he was once stuck on a 16-hour flight from Sydney to Dubai as payback for “messing around” with his teammates and on said flight Postecoglou didn’t say a single word to him.

He even described it as the “worst 16 hours” of his life.

“I was just gonna mention (McGowan’s) story because my name starts with a P,” he said.

“So he had to do a long flight but almost every second week, I had to fly Postecoglou, Paartalu.

“I would be trying to get extra leg room to get away from him because you don’t want to sit next to your coach and sit there if you had a bad game or had a loss or something. It was like, oh, what are you gonna talk about?”

Postecoglou departed the Roar after the 2012 Championship joining Melbourne Victory, and Paartalu followed soon after as he headed to Chinese outfit Tianjin Tea in January 2013.

However, his influence on Paartalu didn’t stop just at the Roar, as at times, the midfielder had to “trick” himself to believe future coaches managed him in the same way.

“It just was just the persona that he carried,” Paartalu said.

“I kind of liked that and the problem was for me… it was every other coach after that I thought should have been like that and I almost had to trick myself into thinking other coaches were like that.

“In terms of, I’ve got to really show them that I’m a good player, each and every training session. He’s watching me, he’s watching me. I better be good.

“It taught me a good dynamic in that sense, but in terms of his man management, he had us all on strings, which is the way he wanted it and that’s the way that got us to success, I think in the end.”