Having been linked with the likes of Julian Nagelsmann, Mauricio Pochettino and Luis Enrique, Tottenham have today confirmed the appointment of Ange Postecoglou as Antonio Conte’s permanent successor, becoming the first Australian to manage in the Premier League. The 57-year-old arrives after two successful years at Celtic and while Big Ange wasn’t supporters’ first choice to rock up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the same was said in Glasgow back in 2021.
Fast forward to the present day, and Postecoglu leaves Celtic Park a legend having delivered five domestic trophies to re-establish the Bhoys as Scotland’s dominant force. What’s crucial for the new Spurs boss now is to unite a club that had shown signs of disconnect in recent months. Daniel Levy went for the ‘winners’ approach with Jose Mourinho and Conte, yet that did little more than set Spurs back.
The negative, reactive style of football heaped pressure upon an already weak defence, and has ultimately culminated in Spurs missing out on European football next season. Postecoglou may not boast the same major-trophy laden CV as Mourinho and Conte, but the new Spurs boss has a knack for demanding the highest standards from his personnel, and this bodes well for a set of players that have become a little too comfortable in their surroundings.
So what can supporters come to expect from their new boss on the pitch? Well, some excitement first off. Spurs have become a ponderous outfit in recent months, with the excellence of Harry Kane ensuring all hope is not lost. Granted, the striker may leave the club this summer, but that’s been an ongoing theme for years now and at least the club have a manager in charge that can help ease his exit.
Celtic scored at least 17 more goals (110) than any other Scottish Premiership team last season at a rate of 2.89 per game. By comparison, Spurs scored 70, or 1.84 per game. Fans have become accustomed to a pedestrian approach by the north London side, and they want the excitment of Pochettino’s peak years back in the capital. With Postecoglou, they’ll get just that.
Important is to press opponents high up the pitch in order to force turnovers. Only Rangers (207) won possession in the attacking third more times than Celtic (183) in Scotland’s top tier last term, and while against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal this may not have the desired effect, when they take on teams at their level or below, this high pressing will help present chances in the attacking third.
Getting the right players in to carry out these demands is key, then, with Matt O’Riley (30) winning possession in the attacking third the second most times in the Scottish Premiership last season. Postecoglou favours a 4-3-3 setup, so ideally Spurs sign a hard-working number 10 to step forward to support the striker when they don’t have the ball to help pressure defences.
Crucially about Postecoglou’s preferred formation is that Spurs will finally rid themselves of the three-man defence. Conte’s staple was the system that relied on the wing-backs to stretch opponents, but it was one that didn’t suit the players at his disposal. Rather, a return to a four-man backline, as seen in the final two league games of the season, will be welcomed by fans.
However, for Postecoglou’s plan to come to fruition, Spurs need the right personnel to make the system work. A new goalkeeper is a necessity, and this was before the Australian took over the reins. The centre-backs need a revamp and a ball player central midfielder at the base of the midfield to dictate the tempo is key, so expect the club to be relatively active in the market to ensure Ange’s time at the club gets off to the best possible start.
It’s a clip from November that should excite supporters most about the appointment of Postecoglou, however. In February 2022, Celtic beat Raith Rovers 4-0 at home in the fifth round of the cup. In what was a fairly routine win for the Bhoys, there was a moment where Postecoglou was louder than those at Celtic Park. ‘Stop passing it back!’ roared the Australian from the touchline, not happy that his players were not looking to make their dominance really count. Considering Spurs made 5773 forward passes in the Premier League last season, that ranking 11th, the current crop are going to be in for a huge shock under their new boss.
Perhaps most importantly, at least in the short term, is that Spurs have a manager the supporters can fully get behind. Fans never really warmed to Mourinho and Conte, while Nuno was a dead-man walking from the moment he set foot into Hotspur Way. The Celtic faithful were quickly won over by Postecoglou, and the same will happen at Spurs. In the long run, this will ensure the Ange era is a success.