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Ange-Ball & Spurs: How It’s Come to a Grinding Halt

Sam

Ange-Ball & Spurs: How It’s Come to a Grinding Halt

Ange Postecoglou became Tottenham Hotspur manager in the summer and has hit the headlines for his high-intensity football alongside his infectious personality.

His side plays with no fear, no strings attached, and are constantly told to express themselves on the pitch with attacking intent and purpose.

Despite a scintillating record-breaking start to the season which saw Spurs navigate through tough fixtures such as Manchester United (h) and Liverpool (a), however, their recent form has thrown their early title credentials off a cliff edge.

So, we look at the season so far for Spurs, and what has happened with the contrasting results from the earlier parts of the season until now.

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Team logoTottenham
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Team logoMan Utd
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Last updated 26/02/2024

Tempered Expectations

With no European football for the first time since the 2008-09 season, this was the perfect time for Spurs to almost hit the reset button.

Failed appointments from big names such as Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte would understandably leave Spurs supporters feeling they must be cursed, as they also search for their first trophy since their League Cup success in 2008.

Almost following the path of fierce rivals Arsenal, they too had a season away from the European spotlight and pushed Manchester City all the way as they finished an impressive second in the Premier League under Mikel Arteta.

Postecoglou taking the reins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium may have made fans question the direction and ambition of the club based on the previous crop of managers, however, this epitomises the change in direction of the club to find its core DNA of playing front-footed, attacking football first and foremost.

Coming Out of The Traps

After an entertaining 2-2 draw away to Brentford, the first real test of the new era came around quickly against Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United. They comfortably won 2-0 to lay down a marker that they’ll be competing for the top European spots against their rivals.

It wouldn’t take long for this Spurs side to win the hearts and minds of the fans after having a goal fest away to Vincent Kompany’s Burnley, who they dismantled 5-2 in a glittering attacking display.

The feel-good factor was well and truly back in this part of North London, Robbie Williams even recorded a lovely rendition of “Angels” to pay homage to Postecoglou, who had just won the August Manager of the Month award.

The Toughest Two Tests?

September had two box office games which the footballing world would be glueing their eyes to. The North London derby was followed by a stern test against Liverpool in quick succession.

Spurs went to the Emirates searching for only their second win at the Emirates since it opened in 2006, and it was a perfect time coming off the back of four consecutive league wins. Despite going behind twice, they managed to claw the game back impressively in a gripping 2-2 draw where you could cut the tension with a knife. Could this be the year Spurs become the surprise title package?

Liverpool came to North London soon after, which Spurs forced home a 96th minute winner causing bedlam amongst the supporters. Another entertaining display which saw Diogo Jota sent off in the 69th minute, in what was a fixture with controversial decisions. Nonetheless, Postecoglou’s side was in full swing as they consolidated their place at the summit.

Solid And Spectacular

After two Manager of the Month gongs for the Spurs boss, October presented itself with some winnable fixtures on paper.

Despite the adversity of being reduced to 10-men, a Micky Van de Ven winner saw Spurs overcome Premier League new boys Luton Town 1-0, and they followed it up with a 2-0 win against Fulham and a 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace.

It appeared this Spurs side was becoming a well-oiled machine, giving little away at the back whilst maintaining a goal-scoring threat, which also comes after the club sold Harry Kane to Bayern Munich in the summer.

Another record had been broken in October as Postecoglou walked away with a third consecutive Manager of the Month award whilst his side maintained a 10-match unbeaten start.

The Wheels Coming Off

An intriguing fixture came at the start of November with former much-loved Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino returning to the club with London rivals Chelsea, which would also be a test for his side.

Chelsea shocked the Premier League with a less-than-convincing yet comprehensive 4-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Dejan Kulusevski gave Spurs an early lead as normal service looked to be resumed. Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie BOTH got dismissed for Spurs as they folded by conceding two goals in added time after Cole Palmer and Nicolas Jackson turned the game around.

What was most compelling was Postecoglou’s team continuing to press and attack Chelsea despite the red cards. They stuck to their core principles and caused a few problems. But how would they respond to this setback?

Subsequent 2-1 defeats away to Wolves and red-hot Aston Villa would have raised a few eyebrows. However, Spurs had lost key players to suspension and injury which could have been a factor in losing three on the spin.

The Festive Picture

Spurs and Manchester City played out a pulsating 3-3 draw which saw Kulusevski score a last-minute equaliser at the Etihad Stadium, demonstrating the bravery and character in the Spurs camp since Postecoglou took charge.

This wasn’t enough to stop the current downturn in form, as West Ham came from behind to win 2-1. Even though the first half could have been a cricket score for Spurs, it was arguably the first time this season they looked abject and out of ideas in the second half as The Hammers rallied whilst profiting from individual mistakes at the back.

Spurs are still only three points off the Champions League places, but have the wheels come off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium?

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