Why Aussie football figures felt Barnet Manager would be an elite. . .
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Why Aussie football figures felt Barnet Manager would be an elite coach



Socceroos legend Harry Kewell has come a long way from being fired as manager of Barnet FC, which competes in the fifth tier of English football at Conference level.

Despite some early hiccups, Australian football figures such as Ange Postecoglou and Ron Smith were certain Kewell would be a successful coach.

They were correct, as Kewell was preparing his Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos for the first leg of the AFC Champions League final against UAE side Al Ain (8pm Saturday, AEDT).

When Postecoglou was in charge of Celtic, he hired Kewell, a former Leeds United Premier League winger who now coaches the first team in Scotland.

Aussie Ange’ finally moved on to Tottenham, and on December 31, last year, Kewell was appointed as the new head coach of Yokohama F. Marinos, succeeding compatriot Kevin Muscat.

While his team is suffering in the J-League, sitting in mid-table after 11 games, they have had an amazing AFC Cup run.

Smith, an Australian coaching genius who discovered Kewell as a youngster in Sydney’s west, has watched on proudly, with the man of the moment determined to silence his skeptics after initially trying to yell orders from the sideline in England.

‘This speaks a lot about him. “It shows how much he wants it,” Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘Harry has always been eager to discuss the game, why things happened, and what players should do.

‘It’s also a terrific experience to have to do things when you don’t have all of the resources that you could have had as a player.

‘Because Harry played for elite clubs, you had a lot of resources… therefore going on to manage clubs like Barnet… I can only imagine how shocking it was. Good for him.

Kewell shakes his head as he recalls his brief tenure in command of the Bees, which came after previous experiences at League Two clubs Crawley Town, Notts County, and Oldham Athletic.

The ambitious club owner of Barnet expressed his desire to win the FA Cup, which Kewell deemed unachievable given their Conference status.

Now he’s two games away from the biggest award in Asian football, and Postecoglou is overjoyed for perhaps Australia’s greatest player.

‘I’ll be watching the final,’ he informed Optus Sport.

‘I also follow Pete Cklamovski at [FC] Tokyo, ‘Musky’ [Muscat], and Shanghai [Port]… I will definitely wear it.

‘It’s a fantastic delight for me to see these individuals, and I truly hope they all make their way over here [Premier League] and make an effect.

‘I really think as Australians, I believe we have something [to offer] as coaches and managers, I really do.’

If Kewell wins the AFC Champions League, he will be the second Australian to do so, following Tony Popovic’s victory with A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers in 2014.

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