Tottenham Hotspur suffered its first league loss of the season after a sour defeat against Chelsea in a chaotic Premier League game ending its seven-game unbeaten run.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that the club has been transformed from a mid-table side into a potential league winner, under the helm of its new boss, Ange Postecoglou.
Postecoglou is now becoming a household name in Europe, his brilliance has already been proven countless times in his 27 years of coaching before joining the Celtic in 2021.
A young Postecoglou took charge of Brisbane Roars in 2009 and revolutionised Australian football. He brought in the Tika-Taka style of football down under and created history with the club winning the league with a record 36-game unbeaten streak.
Postecoglou then took charge of the Australian National team in 2013 and steered them to the 2014 World Cup. He won the AFC Asian Cup in 2015 and even helped his country qualify for the 2018 World Cup, however, he left the side just before the actual tournament because he didn’t feel people of Australia took football seriously over other established sports.
This shows how Postecoglou does everything for the love of football and his passion and nothing more. He later won the Japanese league title with Yokohama F Marinos and eventually moved to Scotland and spent two successful years with the historic Celtic.
Postecoglou replaced Antonio Conte, who left the club bursting into a rant after his team lost a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 against Southampton, at Spurs. The Italian called out the players for being selfish both on and off the pitch, criticising the unity in the camp and club culture.
The chosen one, Jose Mourinho held the reins of Spurs before Conte but was infamous for hammering and being stern with players in the dressing room, which created several underlying problems in the squad.
Mourinho was unhappy with the club owners as well since he complained he didn’t get the players he wanted in the transfer market.
The Spurs dressing room turned into a hostile work environment and it had a massive impact on the side’s performance on the field.
After two high-profile hot-headed managers in charge, Postecoglou was an unexpected and contrasting choice made by club chairman, Daniel Levy. Postecoglou brings his light-hearted and candid attitude everywhere he goes winning both his team’s and other fans over.
Ahead of the new season, Spurs lost Harry Kane, its prolific goal-getter for more than a decade when the English striker moved to Bayern Munich this summer. Spurs were in a vulnerable state and hence seemed like it had another average season ahead, until it started bringing in positive results courtesy of their new hero, Postecoglou.
Instead of complaining or cribbing about losing a club legend, here’s how Postecoglou chose to adapt to whatever situation and squad that was presented to him and is getting the job done.
Ange-ball: Tactical analysis of Spurs under Postecoglou
Tactically, Postecoglou’s attacking set-up has been a masterclass so far this season with his unique approach to the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Earlier, Spurs used to play five at the back with three centre-backs and two wing-backs which is often deemed too negative when it comes to attacking play. Postecoglou not only plays with just two centre-backs, but his full-backs are inverted in nature as well, meaning they often get into central positions in the midfield while on the front foot.
This gives Spurs two extra players joining the attack providing ample passing options at all times which is why it bursts into the attack as soon as it gains possession.
Since it is attacking in numbers, it is not too reliant on counterattacks and long balls. It builds the attack from the back giving Spurs a great hold on possession. Statistically, this season it has an average possession of 60.86% compared to last year’s less than 50%.
The players also play a fluid game of football with its five midfielders in constant movement all around the pitch. This helps them move the opposing defenders away from passing lanes and even helps the midfielders move deep and help sustain pressure in its own half.
This style of play is great when looking for a goal, but comes with a lot of risk defensively and it has shown. Spurs has the 11th highest xGA (Expected Goals against) in the league with a whopping 16.97 in 11 games.
This means it could have conceded almost 17 goals already in the league in terms of its defensive play and has let 13 goals in. Although deemed risky, as long as Postecoglou keeps bringing in points on board, no one will be complaining about the goals his side concede.
Postecoglou winning hearts off the pitch
His bold and free-flowing style of gameplay on the pitch is a reflection of his attitude off the field. Postecoglou is becoming one of the most likeable people in the sport solely because of his attitude towards the game and his players.
After Spurs almost missed its win against Sheffield United in the fifth game of the league, Postecoglou was asked by the media if Spurs fans should control their trophy expectations for the season to which the Australian replied, “Let them dream. It’s what being a football fan is all about.”
In a Sky Sports interview, Postecoglou was asked about his football philosophy and he replied jokingly “ I am just copying Pep (Guardiola) mate!” The light-hearted energy and smile he brings to such post-game interactions is an indication of what it must be like for the players in the dressing room.
Even when Richarlison was struggling for form, Postecoglou was vocal about his support for the player’s mental health and shared his own experience battling emotions and trauma when he lost his father three years ago.
Richarlison came off the bench, scored and assisted to help win Spurs’s next match, which shows the impact Postecoglou has on his players not just on the pitch, but on a deeper level.
Spurs’s motto is ‘To dare is to do’ and it is embodied beautifully by Postecoglou.
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