Postecoglou on the attack with change at the back

Ange Postecoglou has begun life in the J1 League by ditching his three-at-the-back Socceroos mantra, but with an attacking approach sure to deliver unabashed excitement.

That’s the belief of Yokohama F. Marinos’s resident Socceroos defender Milos Degenek as he embraces the tactical adventure unleashed by the arrival of Postecoglou.

Yokohama were unfortunate not to get all three points in drawing 1-1 with their Emperor’s Cup Final conquerors Cerezo Osaka on the opening day of the new season.

And Degenek believes Postecoglou’s offensive strategies will provide a point of difference as Yokohama seek to mount a meaningful title challenge.

“The style of football we’re playing under the boss is a lot different to any other team in the J League,” said Degenek, speaking ahead of round two’s visit to Kashiwa Reysol.

“It’s a lot better and it felt really good out on the pitch.

“We were up against probably the strongest side in the league and we took it to them on their own home ground.

“The result was positive but we really should have killed it off in the first half.

“All in all, the boys were happy and the boss was okay with it as well.”

Postecoglou’s return to club land has seen him move away from the oft-criticized 3-2-4-1 formation which reared its head in the second half of Australia’s FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Instead, at least against Osaka, he played with four at the back.

Degenek explained: “Last year we played with one No. 10 and two No. 6’s, this season it’s one No. 6 and two No. 10’s and three up top, or one up top and two wide players.

“It’s more offensive this year with a higher line. It’s very good. We have a lot of players rotating.

“There are four across the back and overall it’s a system which is designed to give us the best chance of making an impact in the league.”

Postecoglou gets his messages through to his players via an interpreter, and Degenek said his teammates are enjoying working under their new mentor with expectations running high of finishing well above last season’s fifth place finish.

Though Postecoglou’s off-field demeanor was increasingly downbeat in the final months of his four-year Socceroos reign, Degenek said he had discerned no appreciable change in how he deals with and manages his players.

“I don’t know what happened with the Socceroos (in terms of Postecoglou’s reasons for resigning) but I believe he enjoyed working with players, right up until his last game,” said Degenek.

“Obviously he’s got a smile on his face at training and is enjoying being here.

“It’s a different environment. It’s 24/7 around football every day. He is happy because he’s doing what he loves.

“Him being here helps me a lot, and maybe I help him in some things.

“He’s come very well prepared in everything he does.”

Though Degenek sees only upside in Postecoglou taking charge, he said the loss of key players Quenten Martinus and skipper Manabu Saito during the off-season was a blow, but there was sufficient quality in the squad to make big waves.

“I think there will be some interesting results this year and a lot of positive things will happen.”

He is also hopeful of retaining his Socceroos squad spot under new coach Bert van Marwijk, with the pre-World Cup friendlies against Norway and Colombia coming up next month.

“All I can do is wish the best for him and the Socceroos and hopefully I get selected for the squads coming up,” he said.

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4 min read
Published 28 February 2018 at 4:55pm
By Dave Lewis