The first time I visited Melbourne was in my early 20s. I was working as a company sales representative at a trade exposition held in the convention centre derisively known as “Jeff’s Shed”.
I had spent the previous night in the inner-city and, nursing a particularly unprofessional hangover, I met the local sales manager for breakfast the next morning. We shook hands and exchanged greetings, then, just as the aroma of industrial strength coffee began to clear my head, he asked this humble Brissie boy in a tone that barely concealed his arrogance, “So how does it feel to be in a real city, kid?”
Somewhat taken aback, my reply was curt and kneejerk: “I’ve lived in London, mate. How about you find out for yourself sometime and then get back to me?”
Needless to say, our relationship never quite recovered and we didn’t share another meal for the rest of my stay. Not that I complained mind you, since it afforded me the opportunity to explore and ultimately enjoy the Victorian capital on my own terms.
Now this anecdote, admittedly sparse on detail in order to protect both the innocent and the conceited, surmises my experiences of Melbourne – a rather beautiful city not without its charm, but with an opinion of itself that is completely disproportionate to the reality.
And it is this stratospheric sense of self-worth that courses between the lines of nearly every article linking Ange Postecoglou with the vacant post of Melbourne Victory manager in the past few days.
Never mind that there is nothing Victory can offer Postecoglou in a professional sense that hasn’t already been, or could be should the need arise, offered by Brisbane Roar. The subtext seems to read, “Everything is better in Melbourne.”
Well, I call bullshit to that.
Brisbane might be a little bit quaint, a little bit boring and perhaps even a little bit backward, but it is where Ange Postecoglou has made his managerial mark. And now the hard part has been achieved – having figuratively wrestled the lion into the dirt with his bare hands and seared his brand deep into its skin – it would be absurd for the Roar manager to exchange it for the current chaos that is the blue half of Melbourne.
As it stands in Brisbane, Postecoglou has a squad of his own making, a style of football that is the envy of the entire nation, a place on the continental stage, and the unwavering devotion of the city's football supporters.
Effectively, he has carte blanche at the club. And, if various reports are to be believed, there is a further opportunity to expand his influence over the entire Bakrie football consortium that includes clubs in Indonesia, Uruguay and Belgium.
Meanwhile, if he did choose to return to Melbourne, Postecoglou would inherit an unbalanced squad compiled ad hoc by three managers over the past two years, a petulant marquee, and a caustic lack of team spirit that was as much responsible for Victory’s failure to qualify for finals football as the tactics or talent deployed on the pitch.
As for the Victory supporters, I’m reasonably confident any comments they leave on this particular blog will tell you all you really need to know about them.
Now, some reports have speculated that family reasons may play a pivotal part in Postecoglou’s decision. However, if he were as keen to return to his hometown as suggested, it seems likely he would’ve made the move last year when the opportunity first arose, with Roar still under FFA control and the Brisbane club’s future, as well as finances, much less secure.
However, not only did Postecoglou decline Victory’s overtures at the time, he subsequently signed an extension that sees him contractually obliged to remain in Brisbane until 2014. It’s hardly the actions of a man determined to flee.
Sure, some might cite those always unnamed sources that declare the deal is done. But I can only assume these are the same unnamed sources that said Roy Keane, then Jim Magilton and then Gianfranco Zola, were all signed, sealed and delivered as well.
Rumour may sell newspapers but facts are what remain when yesterday’s news is the wrapping on your fish 'n chips. And, in this case, the facts are abundantly clear.
Ultimately, it makes no sense for Ange Postecoglou to leave Brisbane in search of something better and brighter in Melbourne. Something that, despite all the bluster about Victory being Australia’s biggest club and Melbourne Australia’s most liveable city, simply does not exist.
But of course any attempt to explain this to the people of Melbourne, and the football media therein, is futile at best.
As the saying goes, you can always tell a person from Melbourne, but in the end you can’t really tell them much of anything at all.