Earlier today, I posted a piece asking whether or not Ange might be getting a bit of a using from Spurs, in an effort to drive the guy they really want – Luis Enrique – to the table. But even if this proves not to be the case, the job is a dangerous one for our current boss, and everything that the media says is a reason he should take it is mirrored in why he should not.
The narrative we keep on hearing is that Ange, at 57, might never get this chance again. Why not though? Mourinho is 60 and he seems as if he’ll be in work for a decade at least to come. His next port of call might be Paris St Germain. Ange has time, and plenty of it, to get a Premier League job if that’s what he wants, or something abroad.
But Ange is in a more precarious position than you might think. There is a general assumption here that he will command a salary five or six times his current one. Even if he does, how much is that likely to be? Millions, yes, but not the sort of money Spurs would throw at the Spaniard or someone who has proven himself in a top five league.
He will certainly make more than Celtic will offer him … for now.
But this happens with players on a regular basis; they leave clubs for money and find that their careers start to stall. A lot of these guys end up in lower league obscurity, or way below the level they thought they’d get.
Over the course, I bet some of them earn less in real terms than if they’d stayed sensible and grounded and not chased the cash in the manner that they did.
This happens to managers too, and it happened to one at Spurs, and he – not Conte, sacked whilst the club was still in a Champions League spot or Mourinho, sacked when they were on the eve of a final, a manager who has won a trophy at every one of his clubs – who is the cautionary tale Ange should bear in mind, as the real danger here.
I’m referring, of course, to Nuno Espirito Santo, brought from Wolves and labelled a forward thinking manager and feted as the future of the club. He was a very decent Wolves boss, but many people concluded that his appointment was a risk. He, like Ange, had built a steady and sure rep for himself, and his getting that gig seemed to confirm his growing stature.
Nuno Espirito Santo lasted seventeen games. Four months in the job. He was sacked have lost seven of those matches. His win ratio was 47%, so it seems harsh. For some context, in his first seventeen games in charge of Celtic Ange Postecoglou lost four and drew three. His ten wins made his record only slightly better than Santo’s eight.
The trouble with Ange’s start is that he won just three of his first nine. If he went to Spurs and did that – and it’s possible; let’s face it, you could get a tough run of early matches and no time to bed in your team or your ideas – and he will be under immense pressure right away.
Four months isn’t a long time. Santo would have got longer but some people were genuinely baffled by his appointment in the first place, and there are already more than a few people south of the border wondering why Spurs, with other options, would pick a guy from the SPFL and who has only Scottish, Japanese and Australian titles to his name.
Ange will get no benefit of the doubt there.
Sacking a manager after 17 games shows how much patience and tolerance there is in the Spurs directors box, and all those voices suggesting that Levy has learned lessons and wants to “take a step back” should recognise that his appointment followed the sacking of Mourinho, whose fate we’ve already discussed, and his was followed up by the appointment and subsequent dismissal of Conte.
In between Conte and their current mess, they appointed Christian Stellini until “the end of the season.” How many games did he get, in total? Four. He lasted from 26 March to 24 April, and that’s the environment Ange would be walking into.
The words “good luck, you’re going to need it” hardly seem adequate to the job, do they?
And where is Santo right now?
Well, his well crafted reputation, steadily built over time, was shattered by the Spurs experience.
He now coaches, at 49, at the Al-Ittihad Club in Saudi Arabia.
It is not crazy to suggest that he might never again coach in a top five league.
If Ange goes and fails there, at a club where managers are almost set up to fail, that’s it for him. The Great Experiment, that of hiring an A League Coach, no matter how well credentialed, will have exploded. Nobody will care what he did in Scotland, nobody except us, and we’ll be on our next manager by then and if he’s doing well it’ll be just another story in the paper.
At 58, Ange Postecoglou’s managerial career might well be virtually ended by a Santo style sacking, and he has to think about that, about what that would do to his chances of ever managing at that level again. Neil Lennon also delivered a treble up here … he was last coaching in Cyprus, and I wonder if he’ll ever again see the inside of a dugout.
That’s the risk, and it’s a big one.