Ange Postecoglou is already rated as a dark horse to top Manchester City’s list of potential successors to Pep Guardiola should the Spaniard decide to leave his post at the end of his current contract in the summer of 2025.
Not that he will have given it the slightest thought, but Postecoglou has the chance to enhance his reputation within the City Football Group, for whom he has already worked for at Yokohama Marinos, by dumping Guardiola’s team out of the FA Cup with Tottenham Hotspur on Friday night.
Guardiola has hinted that he could stay on at City past 2025, but his former assistant, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and the club’s former defender Vincent Kompany have all been linked with replacing him.
But it is Postecoglou who Telegraph Sport has been told could be best positioned for City to target next summer if Guardiola does not extend his deal, not that it is at all certain they would be able to take him from Spurs.
Aside from the 115 charges hanging over City that could result in punishment, Postecoglou is extremely happy at Tottenham and recently hinted that he wants to put down roots and stay for the long term.
Postecoglou signed a four-year contract at Spurs and, despite his impressive start, there is no panic over needing to improve his terms as the 58-year-old is said to be able to earn a number of performance-related enhancements.
Details of those have been kept private, but it would be assumed that Postecoglou will earn bonuses or pay rises for taking Spurs back into the Champions League or winning silverware.
Postecoglou has already earned the faith of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and chief football officer Scott Munn, another former CFG employee, which was rewarded by the club’s willingness to act fast in the January transfer market to sign Timo Werner on loan and Radu Dragusin. There might yet be a late bid for midfielder Conor Gallagher as well.
It was City’s global head of football Brian Marwood, who Postecoglou has said he will be “forever indebted to”, who offered him the Yokohama job and the pair retain a relationship.
Postecoglou has also impressed Guardiola, among others, and if he can maintain his fast start at Tottenham and even add a trophy to those he won at Celtic, Yokohama and Brisbane Roar then his reputation will only grow.
Comparisons have been made between the attacking football philosophies of Postecoglou and Guardiola, and the Australian shares the City manager’s obsession with improvement and preparation.
While his players relaxed during Tottenham’s mini-break, Postecoglou admitted he was unable to switch off during his short time away from the training pitch.
“There is work to do,” said Postecoglou. “I kind of use those moments to look a bit farther down and see stuff that needs to be done. While the cold face of it is games to prepare for and win, there is some longer term stuff I am still keen to build within the club and you start mapping out those things and see if we can make an impact now or a bit later. It all helps you to get to where you want. Everybody wants to get away, but even if I got away I would be thinking along those lines.”
Pushed on whether he did anything outside making plans for Tottenham during his so-called break, Postecoglou added: “I am fairly mundane and one dimensional when it comes to that. I am a human and I watch things and I like reading and I listen to podcasts and music and spend time with my family.
“But I take what I do really seriously and I feel that sometimes if I switch off for too long I am kind of missing something. That is the way I am wired.”
Maddison set to return for FA Cup showdown
Postecoglou’s hopes of finishing his first season in charge at Tottenham with a trophy have been enhanced by the return to fitness of James Maddison, who is ready to start against City after missing almost three months.
Kevin De Bruyne made an instant impact on his return for City by inspiring the comeback victory over Newcastle United as a substitute and Postecoglou believes Maddison is aiming to make a similarly spectacular return.
“I don’t want to put those expectations [on him], but I know what Madders expects,” said Postecoglou. “And in training, you wouldn’t know that he’s missed so much. The quality is there straight away and everyone notices it. And he’s looking good physically. He’s the kind of guy who will want to make up for lost time and come back in and make an impact straight away.”