Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur Charm Gets Its First Test

Before this, there were always excuses, legitimate excuses which could be backed up.

An injury crisis like never before or a run of fixtures so brutal it hurts.

But as the Tottenham Hotspur players looked at each other after Rodrigo Muniz had made it 3-0 to Fulham with half an hour to play, it was clear this was a defeat devoid of mitigation.

As he struggled to comprehend the ineptitude he’s just witnessed, ex-Tottenham Hotspur Jamie Redknapp referenced the most substantial excuses Spurs has had in its entire history; ‘Lasagne-gate’-when food poisoning from allegedly dodgy pasta dish wreaked havoc before the final day of the season with Champions League qualification on the line.

“I was amazed,” he said on SkySports postgame, “I almost want to hear an excuse from the manager that there was a lasagne-gate, a flu in the team. I can’t fathom what I’ve seen in terms of their energy. The goals epitomized it.

“When I’ve watched Tottenham this season there’s been so much joy in their play, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought those types of performances were a thing of the past, I didn’t think we’d be seeing them anymore under Ange Postecoglou.

“They were off it from minute one. They had a couple of moments towards the end of the first half. I’m looking for excuses. Yes, [Micky] Van de Ven [being injured] is a big one because he’s such an important player, but there’s been other games he hasn’t played and they’ve been fine.

“There was no energy. Players that have had big performances… Destiny Udogie has been fantastic but today – so off it. [Yves] Bisssouma and [James] Maddison in midfield never won individual battles.

What made the Spurs collapse all the more extraordinary was the fact it came off the back of one of the most impressive results of the season.

Last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur traveled to Villa Park, which has established itself as one of the most difficult away fixtures, and routed the hosts 0-4.

The result was consequential not only as a statement of intent but also in narrowing the gap between the two teams to just a couple of points.

The angry Redknapp suggested the two performances might be linked.

“After the way they played against Aston Villa in the second half when they blew them away, they came into this game with an air of arrogance,” he continued

“The Premier League isn’t like that, this might be the warning Ange Postecoglou needs.”

It wasn’t exactly how Captain Son Heung Min characterized the two results, but he did acknowledge the effort levels necessary to win the game were not present.

“It was not good enough,” he said

“We didn’t put in the effort we have put in this season. The performance, the attitude was not good enough.

“Everyone needs a big wake-up call. In the Premier League if you are not ready you get punished. Aston Villa are an amazing team, but so are Fulham. If you are not giving 100 percent you get punished. You don’t get three points for free.

“This is two steps backwards. We now need to step forward. It is unacceptable, including me it was unacceptable. We are representing Premier League teams, we are representing Tottenham.

“This was not close to what we have been doing this season. It is very sad to watch this. The fans don’t deserve this. They are coming here with positive energy and good vibes. Losing this was very tough. The players are very down.”

Ange Must Turn On Charm

Walking into a dressing room of despondent players was a man who, at the start of the season in particular, was being hailed as one of the most inspirational coaches in the division.

Ange Postecoglou’s charm and charisma are undeniable, but the real test of whether it is a useful tool in driving success or simply a nice attribute that wins the hearts of outsiders will only really be shown now when there is a challenge to overcome.

His demeanor in the aftermath of the game against Fulham was certainly more prickly than it has been throughout most of his time as Spurs boss.

“It’s all over so we’ll just go for sixth,” he replied sarcastically when asked about how the defeat affected the club’s push for the Champions League, adding; “What am I meant to say to that? We’re two points behind Villa. It’s 10 games to go, there’s so much football to play. I don’t worry about that stuff.

“It’s not about just falling into a place in the ladder. We could finish fourth, great, it’s nothing this football club haven’t done. It’s about how we play.”

What will encourage Spurs fans is that even amid disappointment when questions caused him irritation Postecoglou was able to see the wider picture and seek the positives.

“It’s part of our growth,” he told the media, “feel that pain and learn from it. It does go down as a bad day at the office but we don’t accept it. First half was even enough. It wasn’t our normal levels. We didn’t have the same intensity in our play. It’s a big part of who we are.”

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