Angie Postecoglou has reshaped Tottenham.But the way forward is blurry | Tottenham Hotspur Football Club


timeThe good news for Tottenham Hotspur is that they did not concede a goal against Liverpool on Sunday. But not much else. The 4-2 defeat means they have suffered four consecutive league defeats for the first time since 2004 and Tottenham must win their remaining three games if they are to snatch fourth place from Aston Villa. , one of which is against Manchester City, and hopefully Villa don’t win either of their two games.

Some perspective is crucial. Spurs finished eighth last year, with the season ending amid resentment and recriminations. Antonio Conte left at the end of March, by which time he had made it clear that he had little desire to stay at the club and fans were tired of his frustratingly negative football; something to be tolerated when it brings results quickly, When these results dry up it becomes boring.

Ange Postecoglou is different, not just from Conte but from most coaches. He sounds like a person. He may have a bad temper, but he doesn’t have elaborate rants. At 58 years old, this is his highest level since coaching; this may be the pinnacle of his life’s work from Australia to Japan to Celtic. For Postecoglou, this is more than just another few years on a resume. This is his legacy. He really wants to join Tottenham. This attitude is refreshing, and so is the original football. His Spurs were aggressive, even reckless, at times. He scored 26 points in his first 10 league games. No one really thought Spurs could win the title, but a quarter of the way through the season they were still in pole position.

There is always a reset. This form can never be sustained. After averaging 2.6 points in 10 games, they averaged 1.36 points in their next 25 games. They reached last season’s points tally on April 7 and have not gained points since. Given the sale of Harry Kane last summer, a new manager, a revolution, Tottenham will surely be happy to accept 60 points at this stage and get back to the fun; the question is sequence. Everything since late October has felt like a drift.

Tottenham Hotspur’s record since April 1

The first complaints against Postkoglu have already begun. His stubbornness about set pieces seems odd. “I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said after conceding twice from corners in last weekend’s north London derby, making Spurs’ inevitable penalty from a set-piece header against Chelsea on Thursday inevitable. His team have conceded 16 set pieces this season; only Nottingham Forest has a worse record in terms of proportion of total goals conceded.

What Postkoglu is surely trying to say is not that he thinks set-pieces aren’t worth worrying about, but that if Spurs want to close the gap on Champions League qualifying it won’t be by defending corners better but by improving their general game model. It’s a more understandable stance than pretending set-pieces don’t matter, but still imagine that 16 goals conceded could be halved: how many points would that bring? Perhaps enough to challenge Villa for the top four.

As Postkoglu said, though, the bigger issue may be another area of ​​his dogmatism, which is playing a high-tempo, high-possession game. Despite Liverpool’s recent setbacks, they remain the most aggressive pressing team in the Premier League, with Tottenham conceding more goals in the defensive third than any other team. Predictably, a patched-up and low-confidence Tottenham side could struggle at Anfield given their poor recent record. In this case, wouldn’t it be worth it for the coach to compromise on his principles a little bit instead of simply insisting that this is how we play, man?

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This goes against the general openness – nine teams in the Premier League have conceded fewer goals than Spurs – raising concerns that Postkoglu gave fans Tottenham Hotspur returns, and the best Tottenham have managed under him is an occasionally exciting team who are often fun to watch but too open to really challenge. Championship title.

However, we shouldn’t forget the progress from a year ago. There are some caveats, but given last summer’s turmoil, it’s only fair to give Postkoglu at least one more window before making too firm a judgment. The team still lacks a bit of depth and hasn’t quite settled into the style of football he wants to play. The problem for Postkoglu is that these warnings have become even more salient because of the recent economic downturn. The entire season was promising, but the ending was disappointing. The question now is proving that he is the reason for the early-season bounce-back and not just the reason for Conte’s absence.

This article is excerpted from Jonathan Wilson Football, The Guardian’s weekly coverage of football matches across Europe and beyond. Subscribe for free here. Have a question for Jonathan?Email Footballwithjw@theguardian.com and he will answer the best answers in a future edition



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