Ange Postecoglou exclusive: Tottenham manager on proving himself, first-season fluctuations and Champions League hopes

Ange Postecoglou explains what he has changed at Tottenham since taking over and reviews his debut season to date, ahead of Sunday’s Champions League-hopeful clash with Aston Villa, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12pm, kick-off at 1pm

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou says he enjoys the challenge of making people believe in him

“I think about it that I have to walk into a dressing room and prove myself from the first day irrespective of what I’ve done in the past. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily.”

When Ange Postecoglou first walked through the door at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre, beamed his first smile and uttered his first “mate”, he had no certainty the team he had inherited would listen to a word he had to say.

The 58-year-old has strong beliefs about why it has taken him 25 years in coaching to reach the Premier League, how his Australian accent has held him back as much as anything on his CV. “It was so depressing,” he recalled in one interview about being snubbed by contact after contact even when he was managing his national side.

  • Live Premier League table | Fixtures | Results | Watch free Premier League highlights
  • NOW Sports Month Membership just £21 a month for 12 months | Get Sky Sports

This was also a dressing room which had already sent Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte packing within two years of one another. The one thing he could fall back on was the same conviction which had helped convince Daniel Levy he was the man to implement the step change Tottenham badly needed.

“It doesn’t matter how good the idea is, if people don’t believe in me then they’re not likely to follow,” he tells Sky Sports.

“I’ve never walked into a dressing room where my reputation preceded me to such an extent that I had people’s attention straight away, I’ve had to earn it.

“I’m just myself. I haven’t ever changed as a person. If you walk into a room and try to be something you’re not, dressing rooms in particular have a pretty quick way of sniffing that out.

“With me, people realise straight away it’s who I am, I really believe in what I do – and when you have that, people are willing to give yourself a chance.

“I enjoy the challenge of trying to get people to believe, I’ve said before – it’s not just about believing in an idea, it’s about believing in me.”

That Postecoglou takes his side to Aston Villa this Sunday, live on Sky Sports, firmly in the running for Champions League qualification, says a lot about how the buy-in has gone.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou dismisses any revenge claims on Matty Cash following his tackle on Rodrigo Bentancur last time his side faced Aston Villa and looks at his main focuses heading into the fixture

He is the first to downplay what he has achieved to date, but even he admits the changes at Spurs have been “enormous, in almost every facet of the club”. They have been tangible both in terms of results and style. Tottenham have never scored as many as their 55 goals at this stage of a Premier League season.

There was also his unintended early-season role as a press conference favourite, which brought a levity far removed from Conte’s eight-minute rant at his players last season. Though many, if not most of the biggest impacts have come from the smallest alterations.

How Postecoglou treats his players, how they treat each other. The character of his coaching staff, as much as the squad itself. “It’s about building the attitude and the mindset,” he says. “The football becomes a by-product of that.”

It has ingrained a philosophy off the pitch, even more so than on it. The plaudits for Spurs’ gung-ho approach in the early weeks of the season have faded, and a few question marks crept in over inconsistent results and frustrating performances, in particular when facing low blocks.

Datawrapper This content is provided by Datawrapper, which may be using cookies and other technologies. To show you this content, we need your permission to use cookies. You can use the buttons below to amend your preferences to enable Datawrapper cookies or to allow those cookies just once. You can change your settings at any time via the Privacy Options. Unfortunately we have been unable to verify if you have consented to Datawrapper cookies. To view this content you can use the button below to allow Datawrapper cookies for this session only. Enable Cookies Allow Cookies Once

“In the first year, there’s always going to be these kind of fluctuations,” he says. “Nothing is really foundational yet, very little is.

“There are some things, I think we’ve been competitive in every game, the tempo and intensity we’ve played at has become really embedded in our play, but the fluency, the quality of our play has fluctuated. That’s no surprise.”

Spurs have had more than 70 per cent six times this season, something they did not manage once in 2022/23. But they have won only three of those games, with the home defeat to Wolves a fortnight ago leaving fans particularly red-faced.

When the subject is raised, he raises one of his now typical Ange smiles. “I had two years at Celtic mate,” he replies. “I can give you the lowest of low blocks! I don’t think it’s a bigger challenge for us than anyone else, it doesn’t change the way we approach things.

“It’s what you go through at the beginning of building a team, and we’ll get better at dealing with it through the process.”

Postecoglou is a man somehow both as restless as he is unfazed. There will be no self-congratulation if Tottenham get back into the top Champions League, gradually building on their way to the top – but his belief in that patient, incremental development of his team is unwavering.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Tottenham and Crystal Palace

Postecoglou has his reasons for avoiding any fanfare about a return to Europe’s top table. There is the case of avoiding the infamy of Arsene Wenger’s classic line that finishing in the top four was the equivalent of winning a trophy, but Postecoglou’s motivations are about more than that.

“It’s a sign of progress,” he says before adding, “We didn’t do that last year, but it’s not the end goal, and it doesn’t ensure you or help you the following year.

“You look at Man Utd, Newcastle, they’re in the Champions League – it doesn’t guarantee you anything the following year, just because you make it, that it elevates you.

“The challenge is to keep growing, and that’s why I say about it’s not just about being a top-four team, it’s about trying to win things, be successful, be No 1, and part of that process is to get up to that level, keep going but then keep going.”

As Postecoglou himself says, the past is no guarantee of future success, as Tottenham aim to finally get back to the top.

But one glance at the trophies he has already won, overlooked so readily by so many other clubs, would suggest if anyone can take them there, it might just be him.

Watch Aston Villa vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12pm on Sunday, kick-off at 1pm.


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *