Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou, the anti-Antonio Conte, silences sceptics with statement show

At half-time, back in the warmer confines of the Etihad Stadium dressing room, Ange Postecoglou let his players have it.

The Tottenham head coach later admitted "only a few words" of his team-talk were fit for public consumption, but the gist was clear: Effing go for it, mate!

"I said to them, whatever fallout there is, I'll take the responsibility," Postecoglou said. "I'm the one that's putting them out there. Let's at least show a little bit more conviction about the kind of team we want to be."

Unlike Pep Guardiola, his opposite number on Sunday, Postecoglou is still in the process of trying to convince everyone — the media, pundits, supporters and even his own players — that his approach is the way forward, and a breathless draw at Manchester City was a vindication of sorts for the Australian.

Spurs trailed 2-1 at the break before Postecoglou's tirade, but they twice equalised in the second half through Giovani Lo Celso and Dejan Kulusevski — ending their three-game losing streak and condemning stuttering City to a third straight draw.

If there were understandable questions before and during the game about the wisdom of Postecoglou sticking with his brave game plan against the European champions — and Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville in the Sky Sports studios were among the sceptics — the dissenting voices should be quieter today.

Spurs lined up against City without 11 first-team players and on the back of defeats by Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa. Other managers might have wavered, made some concessions for City's brilliance, but Postecoglou is not for turning.

Ange Postecoglou salutes the travelling fans (PA)
Ange Postecoglou salutes the travelling fans (PA)

The result went a long way to underlining that his approach and "non-negotiables" are bigger than any individual players — a stark contrast to last season, when Antonio Conte's dysfunctional side was so reliant on Harry Kane.

The risks of Postecoglou's football were nevertheless on display here: Yves Bissouma was caught in possession trying to play out ahead of Jack Grealish's 81st-minute goal, which looked to have won it for City, and Erling Haaland twice should have punished similar sloppiness in the first half. Spurs' best football, though, came when they passed bravely through City's lines, despite having two makeshift centre-backs in Emerson Royal and Ben Davies, who are not really suited to the approach.

They also started with the diminutive Bryan Gil up against Kyle Walker, the kind of stark mismatch which is rare to see in the modern Premier League, but improved after the Spaniard was replaced by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the interval, allowing Kulusevski to move back into the front three.

Gil played his part in the opening goal, starting the counter-attack which was finished supremely by Heung-min Son, but the Korean turned a City free-kick into his own net 137 seconds later to level the score at 1-1. Phil Foden finished a slick move to put City ahead after statuesque defending from Spurs.

It is easy to wonder about this team's limits when Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven are together again, not to mention the returns of James Maddison, Rodrigo Bentancur and the rest — and already the City rematch, at Spurs in April, is worthy of a note in the calendar.

Dejan Kulusevski celebrates his last-minute equaliser (Action Images via Reuters)
Dejan Kulusevski celebrates his last-minute equaliser (Action Images via Reuters)

The visitors did ride their luck at times, City twice hitting the woodwork in the first half through Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez, and Haaland was wasteful.

They also benefited from referee Simon Hooper's strange decision to blow up when Grealish was through on goal in the 95th minute, despite initially appearing to play advantage following a foul on Haaland.

The Norwegian questioned the decision after the game with a post on X reading "Wtf", which could land him a charge from the FA.

Most sides need luck to get a result at City, however, and Postecoglou can reason that fortune favours the brave.

His side have taken one point from a possible 12 since their key players began dropping, but they have arguably gained as much as they have lost: Lo Celso has emerged as a goal-scoring alternative to Maddison and Kulusevski as a thrilling option at No8; Gil, Davies, Hojbjerg and Emerson have done well enough.

Their selection crisis is now beginning to ease. Richarlison made a late cameo on Sunday, Romero will return from suspension against West Ham on Thursday and Pape Sarr should be fit to face the Hammers or Newcastle at the weekend.

Postecoglou will hope they are now through the worst of their troubles, but their "tough period", as he put it, has been strangely uplifting, from which everyone should emerge with increased faith in the manager's way.