SIMON JORDAN: After many missteps, Spurs find a proper manager who feels like the perfect fit
- Antonio Conte created a darkness over Tottenham during his second season
- The appointment of Ange Postecoglou has brightened the mood at the club
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’
Perhaps Tottenham needed to hit rock bottom and suffer the darkness of Antonio Conte to see the light of Ange Postecoglou.
The Italian was not shy in letting everyone know everything he felt was wrong at the club — the ownership model was wrong, the principles of Tottenham were wrong and the culture of the club was wrong.
Conte went after the fans, owner, ‘selfish’ players comfortable with mediocrity and the general mentality of the club as one that doesn’t win things.
Some fans may have agreed with him as it allowed them to justify their vilification of Daniel Levy but Conte didn’t produce a team with any flair or anything that made fans enjoy the football. Yet he sat there, claiming it was everyone else’s fault, conveniently ignoring the fact it was his job to change that culture.
Yes, he took Spurs into the top four on the back of Arsenal’s implosion and yes, there were some very difficult challenges in his personal life, but top class managers leave you wanting more, not less and in his second season he created a darkness over Tottenham that has enabled the light of Postecoglou to shine so much brighter.
Ange Postecoglou has made a strong start to life at Tottenham and lifted the mood at the club
Postecoglou has provided light at Spurs after the negativity during Antonio Conte’s spell
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy came under pressure from fans after Conte’s complaints
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Postecoglou has brought a different feel to Spurs. He wants to manage Tottenham Hotspur. He sees this as a big opportunity to be successful, not a big opportunity for him to get paid well or use the club as a stepping stone or to do people a favour. This is a challenge he wants and sees the value in and makes this relationship between manager and club balanced and equitable — they both want each other.
I have always felt there was an element of alchemy in this appointment. Necessity is the mother of invention and there was a necessity to change the texture and tone of Tottenham.
After Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and Conte, it was going to become increasingly problematic for Levy if Postecoglou was yet another manager that delivered nothing but unrest and poor performances. Mourinho and Conte were proven managers and winners but their mindsets and the stage of their careers were entirely the wrong fit.
Postecoglou, by hitting the ground and bouncing, has no doubt given the chairman some welcome respite — even if the fixture list has been kind. I’ve not been surprised by his impact but what has surprised me is how the fans have got behind him with such enthusiasm and embraced everything with such vigour. It shows you just how disappointed and bereft of enthusiasm they must have been in recent seasons.
This all adds up to a brilliant situation for Postecoglou. The fans had become so disillusioned, so disenchanted, so disenfranchised and so demoralised in every respect from their general dislike of the owner to the style of play and then in comes this erudite, intelligent Antipodean to fill that vacuum with common sense, sensibilities and sensitivities that are based upon building something with substance.
He communicates, not in platitudes, not in safe sentiments but in a fashion that people can relate to. He has an instantaneous relatability because he’s a real person. He believes he is master of his own destiny. When we asked Postecoglou on talkSPORT last week about the ceiling for Spurs, his response was: ‘I do not believe in ceilings.’ How refreshing it is to hear a manager not adding caveats or managing expectations but backing himself.
The loss of Harry Kane was always going to be a challenge. His outstanding contribution was immeasurable, but was becoming a debilitating situation as there was this constant saga surrounding him — how he deserved to be at a bigger club, how he carried the team and how he wanted to leave. In life there are radiators and drains and the never ending debate was a drain and a distraction. His departure may just have allowed others to blossom — and allowed Postecoglou to deploy a pressing game that may not have been possible had Kane stayed.
James Maddison is flourishing — he’s got flair and feels like a Tottenham signing but there’s more to him and if Postecoglou can hone this boy, get him thinking like a big-time player rather than a big-time Charlie then Spurs have a really good player. Dejan Kulusevski looks like his old self again, Yves Bissouma looks transformed, Destiny Udogie looks a player and Cristian Romero the World Cup winner he is.
Harry Kane’s departure to Bayern Munich was a blow but has allowed others to blossom
Tottenham benefited from a kind start but Postecoglou has got the team and fans behind him
James Maddison is flourishing and appears to be a perfect fit for this Tottenham team
A positive mindset in a manager really can make all the difference. We are obviously talking about very different situations, scenarios and scales but when I brought Peter Taylor in at Crystal Palace we had expectations of getting back into the Premier League, but he was the polar opposite of what we needed. Our football became pedestrian and the fans almost ambivalent. I brought Neil Warnock in who got the team going and united the owner, manager, squad and fans to such a point that performances went up beyond recognition.
It just shows that the manager is the key component to success and Postecoglou has the perfect runway at Spurs. We still don’t know what will happen when he doesn’t get what he wants or when the wheels come off but there is so much there for him.
It is still very early days and Spurs have two tricky games next — Arsenal away and Liverpool at home — that may give us a better idea of where they’re at but I wouldn’t put it past Postecoglou to get some kind of result in this weekend’s north London derby.
Having said that, I do worry for the euphoria sweeping the fanbase because the mood changes very quickly if expectation increases and inevitably there will be bumps in the road ahead. Let’s see how the manager, players and fans react when they hit them.
But for now, as Postecoglou said after the dramatic comeback against Sheffield United, let them enjoy it — at least until Sunday!
After various missteps, Tottenham have found themselves a proper manager who feels like a perfect fit. I’m even prepared to make a bold prediction: maybe not straight away, as proven by their early Carabao Cup exit, but alongside winning the hearts and minds of the fans, he could just deliver Tottenham a trophy.
Fans are euphoric now but the test will come when Spurs suffer bumps in the road ahead
Promoted trio have failed to adapt…it could be a long season
The three promoted clubs have taken two points between them so far — but it’s not indicative of the Premier League’s strength or the difficulty promoted clubs face when they go up, it’s simply unique to these circumstances.
Neither Sheffield United nor Luton Town had an economic go, so what did people expect? Then there’s Burnley who have not been prepared — so far — to compromise on their playing style.
Paul Heckingbottom has done a remarkably good job at Sheffield United — winning promotion despite the transfer embargo they were under this time last year — but the club sold their best players and failed to invest in the squad. It’s no good losing 2-1 to Manchester City and Tottenham — it looks noble but it will get you relegated.
Luton have barely spent any money on players so they’re going to get what they’ve got which is four defeats out of four. It’s going to be a long and difficult season for them.
Burnley are a different animal because Vincent Kompany is determined to play the brand of football he played in the Championship but he’s going to have to adapt. People will accept their struggles to some extent and say it’s brave and he’s stuck to his principles. Well OK, but what happens to your principles when you die? They die with you.
Kompany is going to have to adjust and change his style of play otherwise Burnley are going to keep getting beat and join Sheffield United and Luton back in the Championship next season.
Vincent Kompany has refused to compromise on his principles during Burnley’s difficult start
Cult of Guardiola will just keep delivering for City
I wouldn’t put anything past Manchester City. The drive and determination of Pep Guardiola has emboldened City’s players.
They’re like a cult, a group who absolutely believe in what they are — which is probably the best side in Europe.
Kevin De Bruyne is out and they haven’t missed a beat, winning five out of five in the league.
It’s far too early to say if they can win the Treble again — but the fact it can even be entertained should be incredibly disconcerting for football.
Manchester City have suffered from key injuries but have not missed a beat so far this season
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