Ange Postecoglou and Tottenham Hotspurs: It is now or never

Ange Postecoglou won plenty of hardware at Celtic. Now he'll be expected to do the same at Tottenham. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
Ange Postecoglou won plenty of hardware at Celtic. Now he'll be expected to do the same at Tottenham. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images) /
Tottenham new coach
Harry Kane and company must respond to the demands of the new Tottenham coach to revive their claims to being an elite club. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur an enigma

Considered for a long time to be an elite club in EPL, Tottenham is the only side just barely clinging to that list. It is their consistency and their regular European appearances that keep them on the list of elite clubs.

Much to the disappointment of their fans and the glee of mocking rival fanbases, Spurs have not been able to win the League since 1961. A few  FA Cups and Leagues Cups are all that they have to show since and, for a club with great history, a huge fan base, and an impressive financial position, that is well below par.

For the past few years, for reasons that are many, Tottenham has been a graveyard for the reputation of managers. Despite having strong squads and hiring coaches with impressive résumés, Tottenham has struggled. A brief period under Pochettino sparked hope but his departure put brakes on their progress.

Such is the Spurs jinx that some of the great managers in modern football have tasted the tasteless cud of failure. Jose Mourinho, with a folkloric reputation, was left flustered and departed trophy-less,  Antonio Conte, the dour and brooding maverick, lost his cool and dumped Spurs.

Amongst all of the Premier League teams, none matches Spurs in the way they hire and fire managers. Almost 16 managers have managed the club since the turn of the century, and if you eliminate Pochettino’s 5-year stint, its almost a manager every 15 months. In fact, Tottenham managing to stay in the top bracket despite all this is quite an achievement.

After the disastrous Conte stint, and the shambolic drama at the end, Tottenham has now hired Ange Postecoglou the Greek-Australian coach from Celtic. Postecoglou comes with the reputation as a manager who has an array of successful campaigns to showcase.

Will ‘Angeball’ brighten Tottenham?

Postecoglou has a reputation for creating a distinct style of football.

A fine interplay of defensive mid-blocks, tight midfield, and ferocious counterattacks, all transitioning seamlessly on the pitch. The passing is short, and fast. The formations keep changing shapes.

On the way up the field, the wide wings are heavily deployed. The counterattack emerges from possession ensured by the full-backs who go in narrow into the midfield. Without possession, the defense shifts into a mid-block with the back four shielded by a midfield line that hangs back to support.

Postecoglou’s teams are often a reflection of his personality, relentless in effort on the field. His teams have been a treat to watch and every team that he has managed has eventually reflected his style.

The Brisbane Roars, who he led to success in the Australian League were known for their aggressive style of football. The Japanese Yokohama Marinos were transformed by him, and at Celtic, he won 5 out of the 6 titles in Scotland over two years. The Roars put together a 36-match winning streak and so did the Celts.

It would be a real treat to watch if he manages to transform the lumbering, confused, and often clueless formation at Spurs. The fans are hoping he can replicate what he has done elsewhere. Postecoglou will stick to his style, so the squad must adapt. He isn’t going to change a style that works. A quick look at the Celtic goals in the last year is enough to see what might be coming.

"“My view on that is, if you are a strict vegetarian, you don’t drop into Macca’s just because you are hungry mate, you know? This is what I believe in,” Postecoglou reacting to suggestions that he has changed his style."

The Real Tottenham needs to stand up and be counted 

It is clear as daylight that Postecoglou will shake things up. It is now the turn of the squad at White Hart Lane to respond.

If the likes of Sanchez and Royal, in the back line, can adapt to the now-defending-now-attacking style of the new manager, it would mean that the ever-dangerous Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski trio would be a handful.

Last season, the forward line had no service at all as the midfield bogged down too often. It was sad to see someone like Kane loitering in the midfield, in an attempt to start a move. No doubt, the likes of Pierre Emile Hoijberg, Oliver Skipp, and Pedro Porro will need to get their act together.

Postecoglou’s signing of James Maddison is an indicator of the things to come. It would not be a surprise if a few players trade there iconic green-and-white Celtic stripes for the Tottenham white-and-blue in the near future.

Opponents can expect a fast and flexible formation from Tottenham. ‘Angeball’ – as Postecoglou’s style is referred to – would mean Spurs overloading opposing boxes, pressing high to keep the ball in the opposing half, and operating through speedy and wide wing action with the forwards crowding the boxes.

While all this would sound exciting, Tottenham has mastered the art of capitulating and making life difficult for themselves. They don’t press the destruct button, they sit on it. They may do well to get off it this season.

Now or never for Tottenham rebuild

It has been a long time since the Spurs have played football worthy of their history, let alone win titles. Ange Postecoglou will surely change that.

With no European football for the first time in 13 years, it is the right time to rebuild. It will also need the owners and the supporting staff to pitch in by believing in the project.

It is now or never for Spurs, and there can be no two opinions about it. Another disastrous season and their place at the high table of the English Premier League is well and truly gone.

The Spurs faithful would like to believe that the enigmatic Greek will not lose his golden touch and will brighten up the somber mood at White Hart Lane.

At the end of it all, it would be good to hope that from White Hart Lane would emerge a Greek god, not a fallen angel.

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