English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur: Postecoglou is exciting but this is a gamble for Spurs

Ange Postecoglou
Can Ange Postecoglou turn Tottenham around?

Alex Keble looks at the pros and cons of Postecoglou's appointment at Tottenham, and analyses the tactical changes he will make at the club...

  • Postecoglou will deliver attacking football

  • But Spurs could be too open to succeed

  • And major squad surgery needed

Ange Postecoglou has been confirmed as the new Tottenham Hotspur manager on a four-year deal that ends the club's 72-day search to replace Antonio Conte.

The move undoubtedly comes with risks. In fact, it is the most left-field appointment Daniel Levy has ever made, given the Australian's inexperience in a 'Big Five' league despite being 57-years-old.

But it is also one that should excite Tottenham supporters, not least because he represents the polar opposite to the club's three previous managers in the post-Pochettino era, both tactically and in terms of personality.

Here's a look at what he brings to Spurs, on and off the field:

Postecoglou a breath of fresh air

The most obvious good news for Tottenham fans is that Postecoglou is a charismatic manager famous for his inspirational team talks and strong relationship with supporters.

This is a coach who believes in the process as much as the outcome; who appreciates community and the wider value of football beyond the cut-throat results-based approach of his predecessors.

It is a huge - and welcome - departure from Antonio Conte, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Jose Mourinho, signalling a return to the days of Mauricio Pochettino.

This should help to lift the mood at Tottenham - who are 11/26.50 to win a trophy in Postecoglou's first season - although of course it will only take him through the first weeks of the season. He needs to hit the ground running, even if his four-year contract suggests Levy has faith.

There is little chance he will be allowed a fallow year, and considering Spurs face an almighty summer of upheaval - and are in a bit of a mess - that is worrying.

Nevertheless Postecoglou will make a good impression on supporters and should get the players feeling motivated again after such dreary football over the last three years.

Postecoglou's tactical approach

He is nothing if not attack-minded, which again is exactly what Spurs fans want, but which presents the biggest potential obstacle to success.

His inexperience at a top club is relevant because the kind of complex possession football he plays is arguably harder to coach in the Premier League, where every opponent is confident in possession and built to evade a high press.

He tends to use a 4-3-3 formation in which the full-backs are moved into central midfield so that two number eights can push further up the pitch, creating an expansive front five that aims to dominate possession and territory. His Celtic built out from the back, counter-pressed very aggressively, and sought to play in a complex positional style.

However, Celtic's issues in Europe in both of his seasons in charge hint at possible difficulties. Postecoglou never compromises and his gung-ho approach against the likes of Real Madrid and RB Leizpig led to some heavy defeats, as the more competent teams easily out-manoeuvred the high press to gallop into open patches of grass.

Celtic conceded 35 goals in 14 European matches across the two years (excluding qualifiers), and while the higher quality in the Tottenham squad should prevent similar difficulties, this does suggest Spurs will need to be prepared for damaging defeats on the road to recovery.

Ange Postecoglou.jpg

Spurs squad suitability and transfer targets

Fans will enjoy their new manager's approach on and off the field, in theory, but it will count for nothing if he cannot get his ideas across... and frankly the Spurs squad needs major surgery to be ready for Postecoglou's brand of football.

Spurs are light on full-backs who would be capable of moving into midfield, although Destiny Udogie, arriving from Udinese, is a good option at left-back and there is the possibility that Pedro Porro could function in this way on the right. Tottenham, 40/141.00 to win the Premier League next year, are certainly better stocked here than at centre-back, where they severely lack ball-playing defenders.

Signing one or two is a top priority, as is a replacement for the departing Hugo Lloris (again, for someone good with their feet), while Tottenham also need depth in central midfield. Yves Bissouma is a progressive midfielder of the sort Postecoglou will love, as is Tanguy Ndombele, if he can be reintegrated after a stint at Napoli, and Rodrigo Bentancur will become a favourite again when he recovers from injury.

Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, however, are too sideways, and Spurs will clearly need reinforcements in the middle. On the wings, where direct dribbling is very important to the new manager, Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski can play starring roles while Arnaut Danjuma might finally get a chance if signed permanently after his loan spell. Richarlison, however, feels like an odd fit.

Tottenham will need at least one new winger, and may also have to replace Harry Kane, although the odds currently suggest he is most likely to stay, at 10/111.91.

Whether Kane stays or goes could define Postecoglou: go, and there will be a big transfer budget for a rebuild in the manager's image. Stay, and the man who scored 30 goals in a poor season for Spurs can paper over cracks and help the new manager get off to a strong start even before the new ideas bed in (not unlike Erik ten Hag at Manchester United).

There are frankly too many unknowns and too much in flux at Spurs to predict quite how this appointment will go.

But you have to admire Levy for taking the risk and, two years after the promise was first made, finally going for someone who believes in "free-flowing, attacking and entertaining" football.

For now, that is enough to get Spurs fans back on side - and back believing in their club again.

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