By Andrew Warshaw
October 24 – They finished last season in eighth position and out of all the European places, then only a few weeks ago sold their revered talisman Harry Kane.
But in one of the Premier League’s most remarkable transformations, Tottenham Hotspur are suddenly flying, two points clear at the top after nine matches – their best start to a season since their last title success way back in 1961.
Much of the turnaround has been attributed to the acquisition of manager Ange Postecoglou, considered by many to have been a somewhat underwhelming appointment in the summer but who has galvanised the club on and off the field, instantly bonding with supporters to the extent that he even has a reworded Robbie Williams song, Angels, belted out at every game in his honour.
Postecoglou’s style of attacking, high intensity football is a far cry from the safety-first tactics of his two big-name predecessors Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho. And the fans, as the song they chant illustrates, are loving it.
Monday’s 2-0 win over Fulham, courtesy of goals from Son Heung-min – relishing the captaincy and extra responsibility – and James Maddison, arguably the most influential purchase of the summer, ensured Tottenham remained one of only two unbeaten sides in the league along with north London rivals Arsenal.
Postecoglou, 58, left Celtic for Spurs after winning successive Scottish Premiership titles in his two seasons in charge of the Glasgow club but no-one quite knew how the Australian would fare in the spotlight of a league of far greater quality.
So far he’s proving the sceptics wrong, big time, but no-one is getting carried away. Tottenham fans historically know all about disappointments and the second-half performance on Monday was below-par in terms of the standards the club has set so far this season.
But ‘Big Ange’, as he is colloquially known, has already become the most successful newly appointed manager in the Premier League era after this many games.
He insists his team, which many thought would struggle following the departure of Kane to Bayern Munich but which has allowed other players to come into their own, is still developing.
“I think I’ve sat here every week and said that we have a long way to go,” said Postecoglou whose tone rarely varies. “That doesn’t change. We are nine games in and we’re at the beginning of building something.
“It would be so much easier for me to sit here and say ‘yeah, we’re a great team’. What I’m saying is we have to improve and that puts the responsibility on me to make sure we do it. We can be better, absolutely we can.”
“Pleased with the start we’ve had, credit to all involved. We are where we are because we deserve to be, but plenty of reminders that there is work to do. That second 45 (against Fulham) gave me plenty to think about. I’m not going to let the fact that we’ve won the game disguise the opportunity there for us to improve …”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org