Ange Postecoglou: Inside Spurs' Impressive Turnaround as Son, Maddison, and Co Shine

Ange Postecoglou: Inside Spurs' Impressive Turnaround as Son, Maddison, and Co Shine

Martin Moses
updated at October 9, 2023 at 12:21 PM
In this article:
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
  • Ange Postecoglou was not many people's favourite to succeed at Tottenham Hotspur
  • But after eight games, the former Celtic boss is now forcing everyone to pay attention
  • We take a look at his tactics, what he has done differently and why Spurs are thriving

He was the reject; the very last option. Daniel Levy had approached the likes of Julian Nagelsmann, Gennaro Gattuso, and Arne Slot after Antonio Conte's departure, but none were interested in taking up the vacant seat at N17.

In the span of three years, accomplished managers like Conte and Jose Mourinho - in all his glory - had failed to turn the plethora of stars at Spurs' disposal into a unit that could compete for titles.

Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham Hotspur, James Maddison, Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, English Premier League
Ange Postecoglou during his first game as Tottenham Hotspur boss on August 13. Photo by Mike Hewitt.
Source: Getty Images

So when the little-known (and I say this in all fairness) Ange Postecoglou was announced as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur on June 6, not much fanfare welcomed the club statement.

A quick look at Celtic's European record tells you that the Greek-Australian coach might have shone in Scotland, but against superior European teams, he found the going a little bit murky.

And newsflash: every team in the Premier League can offer similar opposition - even relegation candidates on their good days.

Tottenham's Premier League performances

But eight games into the new season, Big Ange is sitting pretty at the top of the EPL summit, yet to taste defeat.

There have been big wins like the 2-0 against Manchester United and the 2-1 against Liverpool (VAR drama notwithstanding). In the same breath, there have been performances of digging deep to protect a lead (vs Luton) or hold on for a point (vs Arsenal).

So, what has the former Celtic manager done differently? How come Spurs are even better without the biggest player in the club's history?

His arrival was met with the same scepticism the new signings got. Save for James Maddison, Destiny Udogie, Micky van de Ven, Guglielmo Vicario, and Manor Solomon weren't the marquee arrivals the fans expected - especially after Harry Kane's departure.

The James Maddison factor

However, as it turns out, Maddison's signing was a masterstroke. The two goals and five assists he has so far has made the €40 million fee paid to Leicester City look like a steal.

The England international has struck an immediate rapport with Heung-min Son, who was desperately looking for a new striking buddy after the departure of you-know-who.

Postecoglou has also turned the best defender in the world (in Lionel Messi's words) into a rock. Christian Romero was already a top defender, but the rash challenges he often made last season made the team susceptible to set-piece chances and unnecessary bookings.

The Argentine has taken to his new status in the team as a vice-captain to work on his composure and provide leadership at the back. Spurs have the third-best defence in the league.

"I think a big part of that is Romero because when you look at it, it's Destiny's first year in the Premier League, Micky's first year in the Premier League, Vic's first year, and Porro just beginning his Premier League career, but they've got a World Cup winner beside them and I think he makes them feel like they belong," Postecoglou said after the hard-fought win against Luton as quoted by Football London.
"They feel really comfortable having him beside them and you can see them flourish," he added.

Ange sets Spurs up for dynamic success

The 4-2-3-1 set-up has the team working in pairs to force turnovers from the opposing teams and release the pacy Son.

Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr have interchanged positions this season, with one often joining in the attack as the other one provides cover. The former, despite his red card over the weekend, is the third-best tackler in the Premier League.

He has also encouraged his fullbacks, Udogie and Pedro Porro, to either join the attack or shore up numbers in midfield depending on the phase of play.

"There is no secret. I am just copying Pep, mate."

The 58-year-old is a stickler for players exploiting spaces while maintaining the original structure as much as they can. This allows for quick ball retrievals or getting caught out on the counter in the case of turnovers.

According to stats, Spurs are averaging 20 interceptions per game - the highest in the division.

What can derail Spurs' momentum?

With the huge number of injuries so early in the campaign already, every team is living on the edge. Postecoglou will have to do without Ivan Perisic and Solomon for long periods of time.

The boss will be hoping he can maintain the fitness levels of the previously injury-prone Maddison. He doesn't seem to have a player of a similar profile in case the former Leicester City man is unavailable.

Luckily for Spurs and their fans, they only have the FA Cup and League games to contend with this season, giving Postecoglou a wider radius to rotate and rest his key players.

Either way you look at it, despite the fact that it is still early days, Spurs fans have every reason to think that this man, Ange Postecoglou, might be the man after all.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)