The adulation that Ange Postecoglou enjoyed for his impressive start with Tottenham in the Premier League may have come to an abrupt end. The Australian manager had garnered praise for an extraordinary unbeaten run, quickly winning over doubters with a captivating style of play.
However, that admiration took a significant hit following his team’s heavy 4-1 home defeat to London rivals Chelsea. Going into the match with the aim of re-establishing a two-point lead at the top of the league above Manchester City, Tottenham got off to a promising start with an early goal by Dejan Kulusevski in the sixth minute. But chaos ensued.
By the final whistle, Tottenham had two players sent off and had suffered a 4-1 loss. Postecoglou’s unwavering commitment to his attacking style, even when down to ten players and a high defensive line, led to sharp criticism.
Former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy voiced his concerns on talkSPORT, saying, “The red card and the penalty were obviously game-changers, but at that point, Chelsea was starting to find space. I wondered whether at halftime (Postecoglou) might have gone with five at the back. You can still play attacking football with ten men, have wing-backs push forward, but defensively, you can be solid. However, he stuck with a 4-3-2 and a 4-3-1. I thought it was naive. It gave Chelsea the opportunity to exploit the space behind.”
Former England and Arsenal striker Paul Merson also expressed his astonishment at the tactics in a Sky Sports column, saying, “Tottenham playing on the halfway line with nine players was just extraordinary. I’d never seen anything like it. Ange Postecoglou should have changed tactics.”
Even before the full impact of Postecoglou’s tactical decisions was evident, former England and Spurs great Glenn Hoddle called for a change at halftime, citing the high defensive line with ten men as “footballing suicide.”
In the end, Tottenham maintained their attacking approach, leading to the bizarre sight of almost all outfield players crowding around the center circle as Chelsea exploited the space behind them.
Despite the heavy defeat, Spurs fans still showed their support for their new manager, applauding him at full-time. Postecoglou, known for his affable nature, responded, “It is just who we are, mate. It is who we are and who we will be for as long as I am here. If we go down to five men, we will have a go.”
The result has prompted a reevaluation of Postecoglou’s tactics and an important lesson in adapting strategies to different circumstances.
Originally published on news.com.au