Football News

The key improvements “brave” Tottenham have made under Ange Postecoglou

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:40, 13 March 2024

With 11 games left to play of the 2023/24 Premier League season, Tottenham are in control of the Champions League race.

Although the London side sit fifth, two points outside the top four, they do have a game in hand on Aston Villa above them. Sure, that’s against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues are inconsistent and Tottenham are growing.

Even if Tottenham have to settle for a Europa League spot, it would still be a testament of the work Ange Postecoglou has done this season. Take yourselves back to May 2023. Tottenham finished one point behind Aston Villa but then it was the difference between the Europa Conference League and no Europe.

It came at the end of a disastrous season for Tottenham, where the wheels well and truly fell off under Antonio Conte. To make matters worse, Harry Kane left in the summer. There was a lot for Postecoglou to deal with, and many doubted he could manage. But he’s proving those doubters wrong, and the improvements are as clear as day.

Let’s start with possessions won in the attacking third, an indicator of a high press and overturns at the right end of the pitch. Last season, Tottenham averaged 4.37 possessions won in the attacking third per game, with only four teams averaging fewer. This season, that’s gone up to 6.81 per game, with only Manchester City averaging more at 7.18. Tottenham are surrounded by a group of the right teams, with Arsenal (6.43) and Liverpool (6.07) all in the top five.

They also lead the Premier League for tackles per game this season at 20.11, compared to 16.24 in 2022/23 which had them 13th. And they’re top for assists during open play with 39, already four more than they managed in the entirety of the previous campaign. Then there are some more subtle improvements, but improvements nonetheless.

Tottenham are second for goals scored from open play per match at 1.76, up from seventh with 1.24 last season. They’re also in the top four for shots (15.48), Big Chances created (2.33), Big Chances scored (1.41) and chances created (12.19) per game in the Premier League. In those metrics, Tottenham averaged seventh or eighth last season.

Of course, it hasn’t all been perfect, but Postecoglou has had to deal with injuries to key players including Micky van de Ven. A fine centre-back with a lot of pace, Van de Ven is crucial to the way Postecoglou wants Tottenham to play with their high line.

Postecoglou has already scooped up Manager of the Year at the London Football Awards, beating the likes of Mikel Arteta and Emma Hayes. And he’s making a big impact on Tottenham’s players.

“Ange is brave, and he makes you brave. He doesn’t say a lot, but when he speaks, we can listen for hours,” Dejan Kulusevski wrote in The Players’ Tribune.

“You can tell that he’s been through a lot, and he often talks about what he learned from his father. He is different from any other coach I’ve had. Everybody talks about tactics and winning, and that’s good, but with Ange it means a little bit more, because it’s about you as a person. It’s about you as a man and what you believe in.

“Ange says, ‘I don’t care if we lose, because everyone loses in life. If we lose, we’re going to lose on our terms. Never go away from being you.'”