PART TWO | Ange on Man United

In a four-part series, associate editor Michael Cockerill gets the thoughts of Foxtel All-Stars coach Ange Postecoglou heading into the sold-out game against Manchester United.

In a four-part series, associate editor Michael Cockerill gets the thoughts of Foxtel All-Stars coach Ange Postecoglou heading into the sold-out game against Manchester United.

Q. The success Manchester United have had over a long period of time has been phenomenal. Everyone talks about Sir Alex Ferguson, of course. From afar, what's your impression of the culture of the club?

A. It's been quite incredible, and I don't know whether we'll ever see the likes of it again. The other football clubs around the world you can put on the same level as Manchester United, they've had their ups and downs. Sir Alex has kept the club at the forefront for more than 20 years. It's enormous when you put it against the context of how the game has grown worldwide. He's always been able to keep his team right at the forefront. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. I coached against them in 2000 (in Brazil) and I thought they were massive then. If anything, in the last 13 years, they've become a bigger club on and off the field. It's unique, unprecedented, and unlikely to be matched again.

Q. So you think it's impossible to replicate that kind of continuity given the pressures of the modern game?

A. I think so. If you ask me, what Sir Alex did was impossible. I can't get my head around the fact he was able to keep the club at the forefront for so long through different transitions in the domestic competition, from the old first division to the Premier League. A lot of money went into that transition..then there were the changes on the European stage (UEFA Champions League). I just don't see how it could be done again. The pressures of world football today, even if you are successful, look at Pep Guardiola. Two or three years, maximum, is the lifespan. I don't think there is a human out there who can handle the scrutiny for any longer. The pressures are enormous.

Q. What about the club culture, which you've touched on. I'm sure there are parts of what you perceive to be the Manchester United culture that you've taken on board in your coaching career. What are those key components?

A. What's always struck me is that he (Ferguson) always had a local flavour to his team. There's always been that element - players whose one ambition in life has been to play for Manchester United. Even though he had the resources at his disposal to go out and buy the best in the world, he kept Giggs, he's kept Scholes, these kind of players who I'd suggest when they were growing up wanted to play for Manchester United, and Manchester United alone. I think that's very important. Even in my coaching, every team I've been at, I've gone towards players who have a real ambition to play for the team I coach. They don't just want to be professional footballers, or be successful, they want to be successful at my club. I think Sir Alex has had that all the way through. Ryan Giggs is still part of that, and there'll be young guys coming through who are part of that legacy.

Q. You mention Ryan Giggs. If you were playing in the game, would he be the player you'd want to swap shirts with?

A. I think so. Out of due respect for him for maintaining that kind of excellence for such a long time, at a club with such big expectations. One thing you have at a football club is that new faces are going to roll through the door every year, and they're going to challenge you as a footballer. Whether it's for your position, or for your stature at the club. Giggs has seen all that off, he's still at the forefront. He'd definitely be the shirt I'd be after.