Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou insists attacking tactics is the only way to improve at Spurs

Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou insists attacking tactics is the only way to improve at Spurs

Ange Postecoglou says he is loving the challenge of reviving Tottenham despite the worst injury crisis of his managerial career and mounting scrutiny of his tactics, which is only likely to intensify around Sunday's trip to champions Manchester City.

Postecoglou will be without 11 first-team players at the Etihad Stadium but promised "I aint going to change", even considering Spurs' record of five wins from the last seven meetings with Pep Guardiola's side using a contain-and-counter-attack approach.

After leading Spurs to their best start to a league season since 1960-61, three defeats on the spin have led to questions of Postecoglou's commitment to attacking football but the manager said he welcomed the pressure and felt in his "gut" that he would be vindicated long-term.

"I love it, mate. I love it," said Postecoglou, when asked how much he was enjoying the job amid an injury pile-up which he had earlier admitted was the worst he had experienced as a manager. "I don’t think anyone goes into management thinking it’s going to be smooth.

"There’s going to be some rough moments and you’ve got to be prepared for that, you’ve got to enjoy that. The alternative is I’m not in a job and I’m sitting on my couch with no pressure on me and no one questioning anything.

"I’m at a fantastic football club, I’m in the best league in the world, getting challenged every week. Why wouldn’t I be enjoying it?

"I really relish [tough times] because my belief gets tested on a daily basis, whether internally or externally, because invariably even internally people will always ask those questions. ‘Can you do this?’ ‘Are you able to continue playing this way?’ ‘Is it working or is it not working?’ All those kind of things.

"When I lay my head at night, I just believe in it. I get up the next day thinking I feel strongly about it. Maybe I’ll end up in a heap, mate, I don’t know, because there are no guarantees. But my gut tells me that I won’t. I enjoy it."

Four of Postecoglou's most recent predecessors have beaten Guardiola's City, with each victory in a similar fashion.

In the wins under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, Antonio Conte and Cristian Stellini, Spurs had between 29 and 35 percent possession but hit City ruthlessly on the break.

Harry Kane broke Tottenham's goal record with the winner over Man City last season (AFP via Getty Images)
Harry Kane broke Tottenham's goal record with the winner over Man City last season (AFP via Getty Images)

Postecoglou will, in effect, command his players to do the opposite this weekend and says he can learn nothing from those past successes.

"'No' is the short answer," he said. "There's a reason I'm sitting here [as Spurs boss] and the reason is the end game is not to beat City. If that's the end game, that's been done.

"Not that I'm dismissive of that, because it's a hell of an achievement to knock them off, absolutely, but it's not why I'm here. It's not the end game. I'm not trying to set up a team to beat Manchester City, I'm trying to set up a team to be successful.

"If that was enough [beating City], I wouldn't be sitting here. It would be somebody else sitting here. It's a legitimate question: 'Why wouldn't you do it if you know it's going to be successful?' And [those questions are] not a bad thing.

"We need to be scrutinised. I need to be scrutinised, I need to be questioned. That's what tests my resolve. I ain't going to change, but bring it on! It doesn't just test me, it tests the players, it tests the club. How resolved are we about doing this?

My role is to show them that this is the way forward if we’re ever going to bridge that gap

"I have a real strong belief in what I do and where the team is heading and I'm just not going to waver from it."

Postecoglou acknowledged, though, that this players would be asking questions of his approach ahead of the game but insisted they remain fully behind him.

"I’m sure the players are thinking ‘is this really going to work against Man City?’" he said. "And those are justifiable questions that they need to ask. My role is to show them that this is still the way forward for us as a group if we’re ever going to bridge that gap to being a successful side.

"We have to believe in the football we want to play. I don’t feel like it’s at a point where I’m losing people. The challenge comes if it stays that way, if we’re not getting a change."

Postecoglou can take heart from the only previous time he has faced City and Guardiola, when his Yokohama F. Marinos side went down 3-1 in pre-season in 2019 but won plaudits for finishing the game with 58 percent possession.

"We could have gone into that game and said, 'OK, let’s see how we can go about trying to beat Manchester City'," he said. "Or we can go in and say, 'Let’s just go in and play our football against Manchester City and see where that takes us'. And that’s what we did.

"We came out of that game with players with real belief. Even against the very best. They felt really good about themselves, even though we lost 3-1. They enjoyed it. They enjoyed that challenge."