It’s bigger than Ange – from England to Thailand, there’s a rising Aussie coaching influence in world football
Australians in recent years have greatly enjoyed Ange Postecoglou’s coaching successes with premierships at Brisbane Roar, where they were undefeated for 36 games and were given the nickname Roarcelona, in Japan with City Group’s Yokohama Marinos, at Scottish giants Celtic, and now in the English Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham are currently riding high in 5th place and the way Postecoglou has his team play are getting huge plaudits. You may not know this, but one of Ange’s assistants at Spurs is fellow Aussie and former Socceroos captain, Mile Jedinak.
Kevin Muscat moved from Yokohama Marinos to Chinese Super League heavyweights Shanghai Port for a reputed $6 million salary in late December, and he poached Brisbane Roar’s head coach Ross Aloisi to be his assistant, upsetting Brisbane Roar fans after their bright start under Aloisi to the 2023/24 season.
Many had expected Muscat to move to a more prestigious club but money talks, so can we really blame Muscat and Aloisi for taking it?
Continuing their run of Aussie coaches, Yokohama recently appointed Socceroos legend Harry Kewell to replace Muscat. Kewell had several seasons coaching in the English lower leagues without much success, then worked as an assistant under Ange and then Brendan Rodgers at Celtic. Kewell’s assistant is former Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets player Shaun Ontong, who has been with the club since 2020.
Postecoglou’s former assistant at Yokohama, Peter Oklamovski, is now the gaffer at Tokyo FC. Tokyo FC have never won a J-League Premiership, despite being one of the big clubs in the league. Oklamovski served as an assistant under Ange from 2018-2020, and recently stated his intention to “light up the league”.
Former J League and Newcastle Jets coach Arthur Papas manages Thai team Burinam United, who recently locked horns with Melbourne City in the Asian Champion’s League. Burinam currently sit second in the Thai Premier League.
Adopted Aussie, former Sheffield United player and Central Coast Mariners player and coach Nick Montgomery is now in charge at Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League, with three of the Socceroos’ Scottish contingent unbder his watch in Lewis Miller, James Jeggo and Martin Boyle.
Former Melbourne City boss Michael Valkanis is assistant coach to former Melbourne Heart/City manager Dutchman John van ’t Schip at Dutch powerhouse Ajax Amsterdam. The pair worked together at Melbourne City and also for Greece’s national team. The dynamic duo were brought in on a rescue mission, with Ajax having their worst start to a season and the fans in revolt. Valkanis was head coach of Ajax for several games while Van ‘t Schip attended his daughter’s wedding in Australia a couple of weeks ago.
One Aussie coach that definitely did not experience success abroad is Patrick Kisnorbo. After leading City Football Group’s Melbourne City to two Premierships and a Championship, he moved over to France to manage fellow City Group FC Troyes in France’s Ligue One. His first season in charge saw them finish last and relegated to Ligue Two. Kisnorbo was subsequently sacked in early December last year after only two wins in fifteen games.
In women’s football, prolific trophy winner at Melbourne City, Arsenal and Juventus, Joe Montemurro won his fifth piece of silverware at Juventus beating fierce rivals Roma 2-1 in the Supercoppa Italiana final on January 7. The Bianconeri celebrated their first treble in 2021/22 under Montemurro.
Montemurro’s former understudy at Arsenal, Aaron D’Antonio is still assistant there and also worked under Postecoglou at Melbourne Victory. D’Antonio forms a quartet of Aussies at Arsenal with Matildas stars Caitlin Foord, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Steph Catley.
In September last year Tanya Oxtoby signed a four year contract as head coach of the Northern Ireland women’s national team. Oxtoby was assistant coach for Scotland and Chelsea before taking the reins at Northern Ireland.
Much like the large number of Aussie women now in the UK’s Women’s Super League, the signings of Charlie Grant to Tottenham and Katrina Gorry to West Ham took their number to fourteen. Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of Australian coaches managing in foreign countries.
Largely through the efforts and successes of Ange Postecoglou and others, the reputation of Australian coaches abroad is slowly rising, which has opened doors for the current crop.
In turn, their successes will open even more doors in future