Can we discuss the significance of lemons and their possible connection to spiritual energy? What about the practice of holding hands for visualization in the dressing room? Or the tradition of singing You’ll Never Walk Alone during training before playing Liverpool?
It’s impossible to resist the urge to search for a major revelation when examining the first few months of Ange Postecoglou’s time as manager of Tottenham. The more unconventional, the better – like Mauricio Pochettino’s fascination with citrus fruit and universal energy, or Mikel Arteta’s unusual motivational tactics at Arsenal. The events at Spurs since Postecoglou’s hiring in June are almost unbelievable.
Last season, the club finished in eighth place and did not qualify for Europe for the first time in over a decade. There were widespread complaints and dissatisfaction among the team. However, they will face Crystal Palace on Friday night with the goal of maintaining their position at the top of the Premier League standings. This has been Tottenham’s strongest start to a season since 1960-61, when they achieved the “Double” by winning both the league and FA Cup. Their record of seven wins and two draws in nine matches has even sparked discussions of them potentially contending for the title.
Many people do not believe this, at least not yet. However, considering that a lot of fans just wanted to have a good time at the game and see their team play aggressively and with some character, the surprising success so far has left them feeling ecstatic.
The truth about the Big Ange movement is that it is devoid of exaggerated stories. Similar to the man himself, it is grounded in reality and genuineness, practicality; simply speaking and doing sensible things. Some individuals at the club are suspicious, as they struggle to fathom a manager who is not eccentric.
This is definitely Postecoglou’s unique selling point. When you act like a logical person, when you have interests and a viewpoint beyond football, when you are sensible, calculated and accountable, it’s not difficult to understand how those around you may feel at ease and empowered.
Postecoglou has excelled since his introduction, addressing various concerns such as the transition after Harry Kane’s departure, Richarlison’s mental challenges, and the influence of the Israel-Hamas dispute on Manor Solomon. He has been open and unwavering, occasionally adding a lightheartedness that is charming and aligns with his relatable persona, providing both players and supporters with something to support.
Postecoglou is not one to engage in casual conversations at the training ground. His interactions often consist of a simple “Morning mate, how you doing,” even though he may still convey warmth. He prefers to maintain a certain distance, particularly with the players. However, it’s difficult not to sense the culture he is fostering, which emphasizes inclusivity and a lack of fear.
The club recently released a team photo that included not only the players and coaches, but also all members of staff at the training ground, including communication personnel and chefs. Postecoglou made sure to have everyone included, as he has a great memory for names. Even out-of-favour players are not left out, as there is no “bomb squad” under Postecoglou’s leadership. Hugo Lloris, who may have been forgotten by some, still trains with the first team, and those on the fringes have positive things to say about Postecoglou and his techniques.
It is unquestionable that Postecoglou’s perspective on the sport is in harmony with the principles of the club and aligns with what fans desire – boldness and exciting offensive plays. His training methods are quick, innovative, and high-energy. He utilizes various areas and seamlessly transitions from one drill to the next, occasionally taking charge of the sessions himself and at other times delegating to his assistants.
With Spurs, it is usually possible to see a managerial hire as a reaction to the previous one; the contrast between Antonio Conte, who departed in March, and Postecoglou is particularly vivid. Conte did not want to be there, in part because of his personal situation – he was shaken by three bereavements, was very ill himself at one point and missed his family back in Italy. His bad moods made the players and staff miserable and he alienated people by how he worked.
Conte rarely offered any notice of schedules, often waiting until the morning itself which, for example, could sap at the morale of the grounds team, who might have prepared a pitch only to find it would not be needed. As for the players, they lived in fear of the eruptions if they made a mistake.
Postecoglou’s approach is focused on organization and teamwork, allowing for a margin of error. What if the team makes a mistake while attempting to build from the back? The responsibility does not fall solely on the player who loses possession, but also on those who did not provide suitable alternatives. However, ultimately, it is Postecoglou who bears the responsibility. He has made this expectation clear and it has created a sense of freedom within the team.
According to Postecoglou, courage involves consistently going after the ball and bouncing back after making a mistake. This mindset is also evident in his choice not to bring any of his own coaches to Spurs. While he may not explicitly state it, this decision speaks volumes about his confidence in himself.
The 57-year-old coach, Postecoglou, has always had a strong desire to be a part of English football, dating back to his childhood in Australia where he was a dedicated Liverpool fan. Additionally, the players who joined the team during the summer transfer window were eager and excited to join the club. This may seem like a simple expectation, but in the past, the club has signed players who were not as enthusiastic and it did not end well.
According to The Guardian, Tottenham Hotspur declined to sign a player in a particular position this summer as they believed he was more motivated by leaving his previous club. Instead, they acquired someone else who manager Ange Postecoglou could sense was eager to join. Postecoglou personally spoke to all of the new signings and only approved the deals when he had a positive impression of their drive and motivation.
The new additions for this summer have been outstanding, with Guglielmo Vicario, Micky van de Ven, and James Maddison proving to be perfect fits for Postecoglou’s style. Let’s also not forget about newcomer Destiny Udogie, who has made a strong impact. The manager has also breathed new life into current players like Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Yves Bissouma, and Pape Sarr.
Postecoglou’s main move was to revamp the team’s core leadership. Kane, Lloris, Eric Dier, and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg were replaced by Son Heung-min as captain, with Maddison and Romero as vice-captains. All three have excelled in their new roles, particularly Son, who has seamlessly adapted to his new position as No 9.
During Monday’s victory against Fulham, Son confidently teased Richarlison with a complex trick. This is just one example of his exceptional performance, as he also makes small gestures like leading the pre-game huddle in front of the away fans to create a connection between the team and supporters. It’s truly remarkable what can be achieved when individuals are in the appropriate roles.