PART FOUR: Ange talks tactics

In the final part of our exclusive chat with Ange Postecoglou, the Foxtel All-Stars coach talks tactics, fitness and motivation

In the final part of our exclusive chat with Ange Postecoglou, the Foxtel All-Stars coach talks tactics, fitness and motivation

Q. Tactically, how do you approach the game?

A. That’s an interesting one. As you know I’m big on construction and method of play, but that takes time. If I did that in a week, and it looks magnificent, my employers (Melbourne Victory) would think I’ve been kidding them for the last few years when I’ve been telling them it takes two years to get a team to be playing well. I’m under no illusions it will be a big challenge. Most of it will be trying to suit the players we’ve got to a system, and hopefully trying to make it as familiar to them as possible. Having said that, I’ve always liked to do things a little bit different so I’m looking to come up with a style, a system, a structure, that will be a little bit unique.

Q. How much time will you spend on motivating the players to make sure they’re not overawed by the occasion?

A. That will be as part of it. It’s about living the experience to its maximum. That means when the 90 minutes are up, you haven’t wasted any of it. The only way that happens is if players go out there and stress themselves, go into their shells. We know the opposition will be world-class players, a world-class team. We know all that before the game starts. What we want to do is go out there and have the moments where we match them. They’re the things you take away. That won’t happen unless you’re prepared to risk things, be courageous, be brave, and be prepared to back yourself. As I’ve said to the players, they’re representative of their teammates, their football clubs, the supporters, they’ll all be watching on with pride. If they can take two or three moments in the game and say ‘that’s me as a footballer against the world’s best, and I can do what I do’, then they’ll get the most out of the experience.

Q. Let’s talk about fitness. The Hyundai A-League clubs are a little further along in terms of pre-season than Manchester United, but do you still expect to see a big gap in terms of the level of fitness?

A. I don’t think there will be a gap. Some A-League clubs have only just come back, and our season doesn’t start for quite a while. Manchester United’s is just around the corner. They have less of a break than we do, so they won’t lose touch, or sharpness. I don’t expect it to be played at the frenetic pace of a Premier League fixture. I hope not. I still think we’ll be able to compete physically and give a good account of ourselves.

Q. Interesting you talk about the pace of the game. There are always question marks about the intensity of exhibition games. Are you going to be telling your players to treat this like a Cup final?

A. You can only treat it as a grand final, as the biggest game that’s come across your path. That’s the only way you can get to the levels we need. People can talk about an exhibition game, but think about what’s on the line. They’ve got a new manager who’ll be under scrutiny from all over the world, and his players will be trying to impress him. We’ve got a team which represents our whole league, the players understand there will be 80,000 people there to watch them, plus millions on television. This will be a contest, no doubt about it. There will be nothing exhibition about it. That’s what the people want to see.

Q. Finally, when you look back on it afterwards, how will you measure whether it’s been successful or not?

A. If at the end of it I can shake David Moyes’ hand and he says ‘that was a good game’. That will be enough.