Australia play England at Wembley on Friday night but former national team head coach Ange Postecoglou does not envisage football truly taking off in his home country like it dominates in his current residence.
Postecoglou has enjoyed an excellent start at Tottenham and they are joint-leaders of the Premier League after eight matches going into this month’s international break.
Optimism is rife at Spurs but their 58-year-old manager remains pessimistic about the state of football in Australia, despite his nation co-hosting a successful Women’s World Cup this summer where the Matildas finished fourth.
Postecoglou spent four years in charge of the Socceroos and – despite achieving plenty – he has given up hope of the sport cracking life Down Under with subtle digs aimed at governing body Football Australia ahead of Friday’s friendly clash in London.
Asked about his Asian Cup win on home soil in 2015, Postecoglou replied: “It didn’t make an impact back there and that was kind of my frustration.
“I don’t think that anything they can achieve… when you look at what the Matildas did at the World Cup, unbelievable but you still won’t see an influx of resources to the game. You won’t. I guarantee it.
“They’ll build stadiums and other codes will use them. I just don’t think the nation as a whole has that inside them to understand you can make an impact on the world of football but it requires a kind of nationalistic approach that I just don’t think Australians – at their core – are really interested in.
“There’s a couple of things. One of them is obviously the sporting landscape, where there’s some pretty strong codes there that have generationally dominated the landscape.
“There’s Aussie Rules, that’s the indigenous sport of Australia. It’s kind of unique to them and they take great pride in protecting as their code. The rugby codes dominate.
“It’s very hard for football to make an impact in that space and I guess then the flipside of that is just how global the sport of football is.
“If I can compare that to a country like Japan, who also have the tyranny of distance and baseball’s pretty strong, they plant a lot of resources into football and you can see that’s making an impact. I don’t see Australia down that road.”
Japan was Postecoglou’s next destination when he walked away from the Socceroos job after he helped his country qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The ex-Yokohama boss had managed Australia at the 2014 edition, but his departure seven months out from the global showpiece was a surprise and at the time he described the job as “taking a toll” both personally and professionally.
Postecoglou has been involved in coaching since 1996 and while he has taken the Premier League by storm so far, he does not expect his time at Tottenham to change the landscape of football in Australia.
“I don’t. I don’t know and maybe that’s just me, not being cynical, but I gave up that fight,” he explained.
“It’s a much easier space for me to live in because I was so frustrated for so long. It was my biggest frustration. One of my major drivers for doing what I did was to do that – to change football in Australia and that’s the reason I left.
“I felt I hadn’t made an impact at all. That’s easier for me to deal with than to think maybe I still can now with what I’m doing. I just think I’d be disappointed, so I’d prefer to think it’s not going to happen.
“I walked away from a World Cup. We qualified and I walked away. The reason I walked away was I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing.
“It’s not just doing the job and winning games of football, it’s got to be a higher purpose. My higher purpose in Australia was to change the game. I just don’t think that will happen.
“It was the right decision for me (to leave), it was the right decision for where I saw the next stage of my career and if I didn’t make that decision at that time, if I had waited until after the World Cup, I’ve got no doubt I wouldn’t be sitting here now.”
Postecoglou replied no when asked if he would manage Australia again and laughed off talk of replacing England chief Gareth Southgate.
He added: “England? Oh, come on mate. They’ve got a fantastic manager and I’m eight games into a Tottenham career. That’s how I think.”
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