Football News

‘He paid the price for being who he is’ – Ange Postecoglou lauds Cristian Romero ahead of Chelsea rematch

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:03, 1 May 2024

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou has pointed to Cristian Romero as someone his teammates should emulate.

The combative Argentine centre-back was arguably Spurs’ standout performer in their recent North London derby loss to Arsenal.

No one in Postecoglou’s side registered more shots on goal (four), with Romero netting Tottenham’s first in their 3-2 defeat.

Furthermore, he ranked in the top three when it came to duels won (second), tackles won (second), and total passes (third).

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“He was outstanding,” Postecoglou enthused afterwards. “He’s a World Cup winner and I’ve just got to get some of what’s in him into some of the others.”

Next for the Lilywhites, who are chasing a place in next season’s Champions League, is another London derby with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

To say Spurs are not in the best form away from home is an understatement. They’ve lost two of their last three Premier League away games (one draw), as many as they had in their previous 14 (seven wins and five draws). They’ve failed to score in both defeats, having only failed to score in two of their last 34 away league matches.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino could become the first manager to complete a Premier League double over the Spurs, having previously managed them in the competition. That earlier success was an incredible 1-4 victory, which saw Tottenham end the game with nine men. Among those sent off was Romero, whose dismissal came with Tottenham leading 1-0.

“On reflection, when you look at the challenge he got sent off for, I’ve seen half a dozen since, so he may be paid the price for being who he is,” Postecoglou commented when asked about Romero’s discipline since his Chelsea sending off.

“I haven’t had an issue with his discipline all year. That game we started well, we were flying. I haven’t had a problem. If historically it was different, it wasn’t under my watch. He’s been fantastic this year.”

Having previously agreed with Lionel Messi, who described compatriot and fellow World Cup winner Romero as the world’s best defender, Postecoglou gave an insight into the Argentine’s work ethic.

“Most of the boys don’t like to train against him. He’s a real competitor and I love that about him. Whether it’s training or a game, what you see is what you get with Romero,” he added.

Though he’s calmed down slightly following that Chelsea dismissal, Romero still plays within the absolute limits of the game’s laws.

“It’s something I’ve worked on. I’ve realised I’ve been picking up too many cards at some points here and there. When you’re a defender, you have to tackle, my style has lent itself to picking up cards in the past,” Romero said in Tottenham’s matchday programme for their game against Crystal Palace earlier this year.

“Through working on it you can try to eradicate certain things, maybe daft yellow cards for protesting too much, or clashing with someone. With the style of defender I am, those clashes can be unavoidable sometimes if you have a face-off with someone.

“I respect every opponent and team I play against and whatever clash happens it stays on the field. I’ve been working on it and hopefully eradicating some of those cards.”

Crucially for the Lillywhites, he’s forged an impressive defensive partnership with last summer’s acquisition of Micky van de Ven.

Now in the Tottenham leadership group, the Argentine has become vital in Tottenham’s set-up under Postecoglou when he is available.