What Ange Postecoglou is already doing differently at Tottenham to help his chances next season| SolSportHQ
The Tottenham Hotspur head coach has taken his new team off across the world for their summer tour which starts with a trip to Australia
When Tottenham’s 31-strong squad list was named for their pre-season trip to Australia, Thailand and Singapore it’s fair to say a few eyebrows were raised.
Most expected a string of Tottenham players to be left behind at Hotspur Way as they seek new clubs, a tradition that has long been the practice in previous summers as the north London club try to move on a whole host of players they have been unable to shift permanently in previous windows.
Yet this time only club captain Hugo Lloris was “granted permission not to travel in order to explore prospective transfer opportunities” following his publicly stated desire to look for a new challenge, with Ange Postecoglou having already secured his new number one in the shape of Guglielmo Vicario.
In an unexpected move, the Australian took every other single senior player fit enough to travel, regardless of whether they are expected to move on this summer. They were all there on Sunday morning at the WACA Ground in Perth, getting a traditional welcome ahead of their first training session in the city. Only Rodrigo Bentancur (knee), Fraser Forster (back), Bryan Gil (back), Troy Parrott (groin) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) remained at home to continue their injury rehabilitation.
To be fair to Postecoglou, he had made his intentions clear to football.london about the make-up of his travelling squad in his first press conference on Monday.
“For me, I would really like as many of the group along as possible because it is the best way to figure out how we set up our environment and sort of the culture around the group if everyone is there,” he explained. “But if it is going to be beneficial for some guys to stay back, we’ll make that decision. I don’t think there will be too many in that boat at the moment.”
The 57-year-old head coach was true to his word and it was another marked difference in the way he has approached his work at the club and also the confidence in his own methods and beliefs.
Other new managers might well have thought the last thing they wanted on their first training camp abroad were wantaway players who might, unintentionally or not, undermine the building of the early foundations of a new look side.
Postecoglou has admitted himself that some might find his ways extreme, with his relentless attacking, possession-based football, with near non-stop training sessions of 60-70 minutes during the season to reflect the time the ball is in play during a match. In pre-season the work is even tougher to prepare the players’ bodies physically for the energy required in the months ahead.
“We are going to go down a different road. We are going to do things differently, not because I think it’s better or anything but because it’s me. I’m different to the other managers that have been here and I’ll do things my way,” he said this week.
“The more we have people buy into that the quicker we will get to where we want to because when there is resistance it just slows down the process down but what I’ve made it clear is that it won’t change the process.
“It won’t change where we’re going, it won’t change me or the way we do things, it might just derail it for a little bit and it won’t derail it for long because I won’t allow it. The quicker they jump on the train the quicker we will get to our destination.
“That’s been my message [to the players] and again allowing people to be themselves as much as possible, because when somebody new comes in the building I don’t want people to be that uptight that I don’t see the real them. Hopefully I can put people at ease so they can be themselves and then we can create the kind of environment that hopefully allows us to do what we need to do.”
Postecoglou will soon know who is on board his train and who is not and the fact that he has brought along so many players who were not expected to be part of his plans speaks volumes about his consistent message that he treats everybody the same, regardless of their status at the club.
There’s also another strand to his logic. The Australian will be well aware of Spurs’ struggles in offloading players in the past. It does no harm for every senior player registered at the club to be well versed in the way he wants to play in case they end up sticking around rather than having to play catch-up later.
It’s a far cry from the summers of the past when unwanted first team players have been told to train with the U21s or even alone with sports science staff.
Barring Lloris and those five injured players, every squad member has made himself available for the matches on the other side of the world. Amid the Harry Kane saga, there was no suggestion that he was ever going to miss this tour. The striker could be seen at the WACA Ground on Sunday enjoying the traditional Australian welcome and shook chairman Daniel Levy’s hand when he saw him after the event had ended.
Even Oliver Skipp, fresh from becoming a European champion with England’s U21s, has decided to drastically cut short his contracted 21 days of rest after the tournament in Georgia in order to build his relationship with the new head coach.
Postecoglou makes people want to get to work. His training sessions and his coaching staff have impressed so far and for all of his clear communication, it’s about what happens on the grass that makes the difference.
When new signing James Maddison told Postecoglou that his words convinced him to make the decision to come to Spurs, the Australian replied with trademark self-belief that the England international will soon realise it’s “more than just words”.
It’s not just the new signings. The Tottenham fans will now get to see whether any of those players they might never have imagined turning out in a Spurs shirt again may actually have their careers reborn under the new head coach.
Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon and Joe Rodon will all get the chance to give Postecoglou something to think about in the final month and a half of the transfer window. The fans will get to see them playing alongside Spurs players they have never taken to the field alongside before.
Players tipped to be leaving the club like Ivan Perisic, Davinson Sanchez and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will also get further opportunities to play with potential moves clearly not that advanced for them.
It’s a big melting pot of players with plenty of talent and plenty to prove. There are so many senior players in various positions that the usual habit of bringing a group of young players for the experience has had to be set aside.
The younger inclusions on this tour like Alfie Devine, Dane Scarlett, Josh Keeley and Harvey White have all had plenty of experience around the first team.
Postecoglou and his coaches are going to have their work cut out wrangling such a large group of players but the Australian appears to be relishing the challenge. It might just present the Tottenham fans with an unexpected player who becomes central to his plans for the season ahead.