Melbourne Victory manager Ange Postecoglou will coach his final game at the club on Friday night as the Victory will not stand in his way in accepting the offer to become the next Socceroos manager, according a club press release. The void left by Holger Osieck's ouster on October 12 left Postecoglou the popular favorite, even ahead of Central Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold. Friday's game against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park will send Postecoglou off toward a massive rebuilding project at the Socceroos, not to mention the 2014 and 2018 World Cups and 2015 Asian Cup, hosted by Australia.
The Victory had been negotiating with FFA to receive compensation for what they feel is the federation poaching their manager just a few games into his second season. Postecoglou, who won the A-League championship in his second (and third) season at Brisbane, was expected to have his Melbourne side competing at the top of the league after finishing third last season. It seems FFA outlasted the Victory, eventually persuading them to allow their want away manager to exit with 'something better than nothing' the best explanation.
While Postecoglou might eventually be the savior of the Socceroos, the loss to the A-League is immense. Along with Arnold, the 48-year-old Postecoglou is the top manager in the league and has produced entertaining, championship teams. The balance in Australia has long favored the Socceroos, and the national team has not had an Australian manager since the founding of the A-League. Yet even if Postecoglou is the best man for the job, the timing is poor by FFA both in allowing Osieck to dangle so long and sack him after two high profile friendlies, as well as now leaving the Victory without its manager after so long a pre-season.
In the immediate short-term, it could be Kevin Muscat as interim manager at the Victory, as he is currently Postecoglou's top assistant. That is, provided Muscat does not get called up as an assistant for the Socceroos. The Melbourne club will have to carry on with its early season schedule, including consecutive away games at Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers in the first two games after Postecoglou's departure. Meanwhile, the new Socceroos boss is likely to make his debut in a November friendly against Costa Rica.
Victory fans should rightfully mourn the exit of so great a manager after such a short time in Melbourne. At the same time, as the new leader of the Socceroos, Postecoglou is at the top of the food chain in Australia. Though he was famously sacked as U20 manager in 2007, his return to national prominence is an interesting and compelling tale. Club and international football are of course quite different, but Postecoglou does seem to be the best choice, even if the domestic league will suffer greatly from his absence.
Chairman Anthony Di Pietro explained the ordeal in the press release:
"The circumstances that Ange and the club have been confronted with are complex and compelling no matter what perspective you take. That said, we have made it very clear to Ange that we will not stand in the way of him accepting the biggest coaching role in this country.
"However, we are disappointed with the process undertaken by the FFA, given the outcomes we tried to secure could never have been achieved within the timeframes offered, which ultimately forced us to accelerate our decision not to stand in Ange's way.
"Ange Postecoglou has had a profound impact on Melbourne Victory Football Club over the past 18 months and the club is extremely appreciative of everything he has implemented during his tenure. Ange's appointment as Socceroos coach is a fantastic endorsement for our club, its culture and the standards we strive to set. We thank Ange and he will certainly always be part of the Melbourne Victory family.
"This week's game becomes our focus and we can confirm that Ange will be head coach on Friday."
The club pointed to next week for further announcements on the coaching structure.