Tottenham underwent a radical transformation over the summer. And no, it’s not just about Harry Kane, who was finally let go. The main transformation is their style of play. One can gauge this transformation simply by their possession statistics, which saw an increase of 10% compared to the previous season.
This change is credited to Ange Postecoglou, the new signings, and the principles that the players have embraced, having grown weary of the regimes under Mourinho and Conte.
As of now, the “Spurs” are once again playing in an attractive aggressive style, much to the delight of their fans. Importantly, this change in approach has yielded positive results.
However, experts and analysts are still hesitant to overrate Tottenham. For instance, in the upcoming derby against Arsenal, the betting company Pin Up UZ is favoring the “Gunners”.
The new coach has completely changed the approach
Ange is highly dogmatic. He once joked that he took all his ideas from Pep, but he is dead serious when he uses players, who under Conte would be strictly defensive, in more attacking roles as “inverted full-backs”.
The most notable transformation is that of Yves Bissouma. Under Conte, the Malian barely made it to the starting lineup, but now he has taken on the pivotal role of a playmaking defensive midfielder.
It’s a bold move. Bissouma’s ball-handling is quite unique (ever seen a dribbling defensive midfielder?), and he’s somewhat unreliable when it comes to regaining possession. But Postecoglou doesn’t mind. He’s the kind of coach who always sees the glass as half full.
It’s noteworthy that Tottenham doesn’t think of retreating at the first sign of trouble. They persistently stick to the principles that Ange instilled during the pre-season. Thanks to this, they have managed to turn games around, twice in terms of the score and once in terms of game dynamics (like the resounding victory over Manchester United).
Son is adapting to Kane’s position. His speed is the key to a hat-trick
For the first time since Harry Kane’s departure, Son Heung-min played as a striker for Tottenham. Before this, he had only had short spells in this position during the second halves of matches. Against Burnley, he was in this role from the get-go. The result was not just a hat-trick but an impressive performance in all aspects.
Son’s key attribute in this position is his speed. He utilized it effectively against Burnley, a Premier League newcomer known for their bravery but currently paying the price for their naivety.
Primarily, Son punished them for their high defensive line during pressing, netting two of his three goals this way.
Moreover, Son’s pace was handy against Burnley’s build-up plays, consistently pressuring the goalkeeper and disrupting their flow. His third goal, which turned out to be the winner, came precisely from such pressure initiated by the South Korean.
After the match, Ange Postecoglou admitted that Son was one of the reasons why Tottenham decided not to directly replace Kane in the transfer market. So far, the coach’s faith in the South Korean is being vindicated.
Son has shown that he can meet Postecoglou’s key requirements (pressing and creating chances).
Beauty is in the details
In every one of their matches, Tottenham surprises with their ball possession (the club has significantly improved in this aspect). From a counter-attacking team, they’ve transformed into dominators and a pressing machine. Against “United,” it was a vibrant and dynamic game.
There was a period of United’s dominance where they didn’t capitalize on their chances, followed by a period of Tottenham’s dominance where they took their opportunities.
Harry Kane’s departure has freed others and highlighted a new leader – James Maddison. Son Heung-Min will be evolving into a new role, at the very least as the team’s captain, and at the most as the leader of the attack and main goalscorer.
Guglielmo Vicario feels very comfortable as the primary goalkeeper and has seamlessly adapted to the new league.
Questions about the reserves
The first thought regarding their cup exit was clear – there’s something fundamentally wrong with Tottenham’s reserves, and perhaps they all need to be sold/disbanded. The mentality of the players was something even the previous main coach, Antonio Conte, relied upon.
New players have arrived in the team over the past six months, but ousting the old core has been a challenge (especially when one of the newcomers gets injured or needs rest, the spotlight returns to the same old reserve player).
The cup game looked grim, and nothing seemed to click. But this is a natural process, and Postecoglou mentioned this post-match: for many, it was their first start of the season, and the players deserve a chance based on their training performance.
When else to give this chance if not in the second round of the League Cup? Especially when there are no European cup commitments.
It also stood out that the main squad immediately began showcasing attractive football, quickly embodying the characteristics of Postecoglou’s team. This was a pleasant surprise as it’s not the usual trend.
Against this backdrop, the contrast between the cup game and the Premier League was immense. But at this stage, what’s essential is that the starting lineup is accepting Postecoglou’s ideas, displaying good football, and progressing.
If you gradually mix them with reserve players, it won’t be as critical. If you change everyone at once (well, almost everyone), then nothing seems to work.