Yesterday, in the aftermath of that incredible win, Ange spoke words of warmth to Jack Ross, where he acknowledged his struggles at the moment. It was a generous thing to have done, and you knew just from listening to him that Ange feels for the guy.
This is not the first time he’s been there, offering support, to a fellow manager and we can be sure that in addition to his public statements that there was some encouragement behind the scenes too.
Ange is a good man. He is a man who has been through tough times as a manager, and understands that every boss will go through them, and he always offers compassion and understanding to those others who aren’t in a good place.
That is one side of the man’s personality. It is a good side.
But there is a ruthless side to Ange as well, and we saw that too. It serves as a proper counterpoint to the good man, and it should scare the Hell out of every club who comes up against us. Ange feels bad for the position Ross is in, and he took no pleasure in making matters worse for him … but nor did he allow that to change how we play.
Ange wanted our side to be relentless yesterday. He wanted us to score as many goals as possible, and Jack Ross’ position be damned. He is capable of feeling sympathy for the guy whilst knowing that it’s not his job to go easy on him.
Think about the mentality at play here.
To be decent and thoughtful and human … but only up to a point.
He stood beside Ross on the touchline and knew that every goal that went in only made things harder for him.
But that’s the business.
Ange did not let up. He did not let the team let up.
It’s a theory in poker that the more inherently decent a person is the poorer the card player they are, because you need a certain level of ruthlessness to crush other players, and most folk don’t have the ability to do it without feeling bad.
Ange did feel bad for Ross yesterday, but he was able to switch that off for the benefit of our team.
That takes a remarkable level of focus.
I loved what he said about our team needing to play the same way regardless of circumstances or the scoreboard … there are games I remember under other bosses, the 5-0 crushing of the Ibrox club at Parkhead under Rodgers amongst them, where I know we took our foot off the gas pedal when records were there to be broken and we had a chance to ramp up the humiliation.
This team is never, ever going to do that, not under this guy.
No matter what is going on with the opposition, Ange will insist we give everything and try to crush them.
In the aftermath he will offer his respects and sympathies and let his genuine warmth come to the fore.
But for those 90 minutes he is implacable.
That’s a rare, and outstanding, combination. We are lucky to have such a man.