Home » Why key Australian football figures always felt Harry Kewell would be a successful coach – as he prepares for AFC Champions League final with Yokohama F. Marinos

Why key Australian football figures always felt Harry Kewell would be a successful coach – as he prepares for AFC Champions League final with Yokohama F. Marinos

  • Socceroos great Harry Kewell has proven his worth as a manager
  • In charge of Yokohama F. Marinos, AFC Champions League final awaits
  • Looking to guide Japanese side to victory over Al Ain from the UAE
  • Ruthlessly exposed, but here’s why Tottenham should be HAPPY, says Chris Sutton – Listen to the It’s All Kicking Off! podcast

Socceroos great Harry Kewell has come a long way from getting sacked as manager of Barnet FC, who play in the fifth tier of English football at Conference level.

Despite some early setbacks, Australian football identities such as Ange Postecoglou and Ron Smith had no doubt Kewell would be a successful coach.

They were on the money, with Kewell in the midst of preparing his Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos for the first leg of the AFC Champions League final against Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates (8pm Saturday, AEDT).

Postecoglou hired Kewell when in charge of Celtic, with the former Leeds United Premier League winger a first team coach in Scotland.

‘Aussie Ange’ eventually moved onto Tottenham – and on December 31 last year, Kewell was announced as the new head coach of Yokohama F. Marinos, replacing compatriot Kevin Muscat.

Harry Kewell has come a long way from getting sacked as manager of Barnet FC, who play in the fifth tier of English football at Conference level (pictured, in charge of Yokohama F.Marinos)

Australian football identities such as Ange Postecoglou (pictured) and Ron Smith had no doubt the former Socceroos superstar could make a successful fist of coaching

Australian football identities such as Ange Postecoglou (pictured) and Ron Smith had no doubt the former Socceroos superstar could make a successful fist of coaching

Harry Kewell is arguably the greatest Socceroo ever following his decorated career - and now stands just two games away from the biggest prize in Asian football as a coach

Harry Kewell is arguably the greatest Socceroo ever following his decorated career – and now stands just two games away from the biggest prize in Asian football as a coach

While his team are struggling in the J-League – sitting mid-table after 11 games, their AFC Cup run has been impressive.

Australian coaching guru Smith – who discovered Kewell as a youngster in Sydney’s west – has watched on with pride, with the man of the moment determined to silence his doubters after initially struggling when barking instructions from the sideline in England.

‘It says a lot for him. It shows how much he wants it,’ Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘Harry has always been keen to talk about the game, why things happened, and what players should do.

‘It is also a great experience to have to do things when you don’t have all the resources that you may have been used to as a player.

‘Because Harry played for top clubs, you have great resources… so to then to go and manage clubs [like Barnet]… I can only imagine it was a shock. Good on him.’

Kewell himself looks back at his brief time in charge of the Bees – which followed earlier stints at League Two clubs Crawley Town, Notts County plus Oldham Athletic – and shakes his head.

The ambitious club owner at Barnet declared he wanted to win a FA Cup – which Kewell found unrealistic given their Conference status.

Harry Kewell made his name in the Premier League with Leeds United (pictured, in 2002)

Harry Kewell made his name in the Premier League with Leeds United (pictured, in 2002)

Kewell then sealed a dream move to Liverpool, but his time at Anfield was marred by injuries

Kewell's move into management saw him work with fellow Aussie Ange Postecoglou at Celtic

Kewell’s move into management saw him work with fellow Aussie Ange Postecoglou at Celtic

Now he stands two games away from the biggest prize in Asian football – and Postecoglou is delighted for arguably Australia’s greatest ever player.

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

‘I also follow Pete Cklamovski at [FC] Tokyo, ‘Musky’ [Muscat] with Shanghai [Port]… I’ll have it on for sure. 

‘It’s a great thrill for me to see these guys and I really hope that they all eventually find their way across here [Premier League] to make an impact.

‘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 Aussie to achieve the feat, after Tony Popovic hoisted the silverware with A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers in 2014.