Arsenal great Martin Keown had nothing but good things to say about the “transformational” effect Ange Postecoglou has had at Tottenham, and the ex-Gunner pointed to one key moment that made him realise Spurs are for real.
Postecoglou wasted no time stamping his authority on Tottenham and reintroducing an attractive brand of football their fanbase craves.
The disappointing EFL Cup exit to Fulham on penalties blotted the Aussie’s copybook. That aside, it’s been a wholly encouraging first six weeks in north London.
Tottenham remain unbeaten in the league and earned a hard fought 2-2 draw on enemy turf against Arsenal last weekend. Another test awaits when Liverpool come to town on Saturday. However, as our exclusive Predictions piece shows, Spurs will no longer enter these types of games with fear.
Postecoglou has loosened the shackles on many of his players and crucially, ditched the back five deployed under former boss Antonio Conte.
Conte – as Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo were before him – was a defence-first manager and the negative approach did not go down well with the Tottenham faithful.
Now, while appearing on talkSPORT, even Arsenal legend Martin Keown has had to admit Postecoglou is working wonders at Tottenham.
Postecoglou instructions “liberating” for Tottenham stars – Keown
“It is transformational what I’m seeing at Spurs, all that cloud has been lifted from the club,” said Keown.
“It’s so liberating as a player when you go from being told just to win the ball and move it on to suddenly being told to play with freedom – I had that at Arsenal with Arsene Wenger after George Graham, and I see that with Spurs.
“This manager cares for his players and he believes in his players in a way that Antonio Conte simply didn’t, and I think now the club is seeing the benefit of that.
“I just see that they’re playing with much more expression a willingness to attack. The fans now will turn up tomorrow against Liverpool absolutely delighted that there’s going to be a fantastic game, looking forward to going to White Hart Lane.
“That stadium is a totally different environment now. It’s not toxic anymore. They’re there to support their team and there’s a unity within the ground.”
One Postecoglou moment made Keown take note
Keown then went on to highlight one key moment involving Postecoglou that made him realise Spurs could once again be a force to be reckoned with.
Keown referenced Cristian Romero’s early substitution during Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Brentford on opening weekend.
Romero had suffered a blow to the head minutes before giving his side the lead with a close-range header. However, the Argentine appeared woozy and was surrounded by concerned teammates while preparing for the game to restart.
Despite Romero’s protestations that he be allowed to continue, Postecoglou took the decision out of his hands and protected the player by bringing him off early.
Keown believes that type of caring and understanding approach – which did appear to be lacking under Mourinho and Conte – made him realise Tottenham will be a different animal under Postecoglou.
“When I say the words love and care, they can feel that now,” continued Keown. “Romero, the Spurs defender, when he went off in that first game against Brentford I saw something from a manager, a bit of care that I’ve not seen for years – not seen for years!
“He’s an aggressive player, he wants to put his foot in and he got a head injury in that game, so Postecoglou took him off.
“The guy was like a robot, he was raging, fuming, but Postecoglou said, ‘No you’re coming off’, and I saw a bit of care there from the manager.
“And I thought: ‘Well, if he’s like that around the place, this will be really interesting to watch’.”