United's only meeting with Spurs boss Postecoglou

Thursday 17 August 2023 09:10

It's fair to say Manchester United have history with some of Tottenham Hotspur's recent managers, notably Jose Mourinho of course.

But the north London club's new boss Ange Postecoglou, appointed in June following his departure from Scottish champions Celtic, has only faced the Reds in one competitive fixture so far - and that was almost a quarter of a century ago.

Postecoglou's first managerial job began in 1996, at South Melbourne, where he had spent all of his playing career. And it was towards the end of his tenure with the Australian outfit when his solitary match against United took place, in January 2000.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer goes close to scoring against Ange Postecoglou's South Melbourne side.
The venue for this unique encounter was the legendary Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where Postecoglou's team, as the champions of Oceania, joined Sir Alex Ferguson's Treble winners in competing for FIFA's inaugural World Club Championship.

Speaking to BBC News before the tournament, Postecoglou claimed other clubs in the Australian league were buzzing about South Melbourne's participation in Brazil and, in particular, their clash with the Reds.

"Every team we play against seems very excited that we're going, particularly as we're playing Manchester United because they've got a great following in this country," he said.
"It's pretty hard to say how we'll approach the match. Obviously we're coming from worlds apart.

"The standard of our league compared to the standard of competition that Manchester United plays in, the relevant turnovers of clubs in terms of the financial side, we're just in a different world to them, and it's hard to know how you're going to go out there and compete."

On the prospect of pitting his part-time players against the likes of David Beckham, Andy Cole, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Dwight Yorke, Postecoglou added: "They are all pretty much superstars and all players we need to fear."
Ange Postecoglou pictured as South Melbourne boss in Brazil, January 2000.
Prior to entering the first FIFA tournament of its kind, Sir Alex's men had already won the unofficial world crown by beating South American champions Palmeiras 1-0 in Tokyo, in November 1999. Mark Bosnich, still the only Australian to have played for United, was one of the star performers in that Inter-Continental Cup final.

"Manchester United have proved they're the best team in the world and it's going to be hard for us," acknowledged the South Melbourne boss, who was only 34 at the time.

By the time the two sides met on 11 January 2000, South Melbourne were already unable to progress in the tournament, having lost their first two games in Group B. The Reds, meanwhile, were needing to defeat Postecoglou's side and also rely on local club Vasco de Gama beating Mexico's Necaxa by three clear goals in order to qualify for the third-place play-off.
When United faced Spurs' new boss Video

When United faced Spurs' new boss

Quinton Fortune netted two against South Melbourne, the first club managed by Ange Postecoglou, back in January 2000...

United's part of the mission was accomplished with a hard-fought 2-0 victory, courtesy of two fine finishes by Quinton Fortune inside the first 20 minutes. It was the first of the South African's two goalscoring doubles for the Reds, his other one coming against Bradford City early in the following season.

However, Vasco's margin of victory over Necaxa wasn't big enough at 2-1, so United bowed out and flew home from Brazil to move into the new state-of-the-art Trafford Training Centre at Carrington and successfully pursue a fourth Premier League title in five years.

Twenty-three years on, Postecoglou is set to meet the Reds for only the second time.

United travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where we'll take on the north Londoners in the 17:30 BST kick-off, on Saturday.