Tottenham Hotspur are in Singapore for the final leg of their pre-season tour to Australia and Asia. They will play Singaporean league side Lion City Sailors tomorrow, a substitute for Rome who canceled their overseas tour after non-payment by their tour operators. Ange Postecoglou ran his team through an open training session in front of Singaporean Spurs fans today, also meeting the media for the first time since the canceled game in Bangkok. Fortunately, there were no German journalists in Bayern kits.
These press conferences are a good way to take the temperature of the squad. It is useful, especially in a transitional year with a new manager and a very different style of play. Postecoglou continued his line that the team is training well and working hard, but warned that there is still a long way to go.
– The boys have trained really well. I’ve been pleased with the response from working hard and in fairly trying conditions, especially the last few days. They have still pushed through it and their attitude has been first class in receiving information and training. We are trying to implement a new style of play and we are still very much in the embryonic stages, very very early. The first game was OK in terms of them trying to do things we’ve been trying to work on. You have to balance working on the game plan with the physical condition. From my perspective, we’ve juggled the two not too badly.
“But we have a long way to go. It’s still early steps. Looking forward to the game and any opportunity we get to play overseas and in front of fans who don’t regularly get a chance to see us regularly is a great opportunity for us to show our ability. I think it’s a good way for us to end the tour tomorrow, it’s a great stadium and hopefully we’ll get a good turnout.”
Postecoglou was asked about young players at the club, specifically academy youngsters like Oliver Irow and James Rowswell, who are starting to get some buzz. The conversation quickly shifted to the younger players in the first team. Postecoglou said he has been particularly impressed with Oliver Skipp and how he chose to return to training early after winning the U21 Euros with England.
“Yes, [Skippy] is part of my plans, absolutely. We gave him the opportunity. It’s fair to say that when it’s a tournament and he’s successful, you want him to enjoy it because probably, when he reflects later in life, it’s going to be one of the highlights of his career.
“You don’t want him jumping from one thing to another. We left it in his corner. I was more than prepared for him to miss this tour, but in the back of my mind I like that he came back early (laughs). It didn’t surprise me that that’s the decision he made and he’s been great.
“He is in really good physical shape, you can see that. He’s probably ahead of some of the other guys and he’s adapting really well to the way we train.”
Ange was also asked about Pape Sarr, who appears to be more integrated into the side under the Aussie boss than under previous managers. Sarr did not play much in the friendly West him in Perth and we don’t know what Ange’s plans for him were in the canceled friendly in Thailand. But Postecoglou had nothing but good things to say about him and his game.
“Absolutely. What a player. He never stops smiling, what else do you want from a footballer? He’s excellent and he’s always happy. I’ve seen plenty of excellent players who are quite miserable.
He is a great talent. The part that really excited me at the moment is that we have a clutch with Destiny, Pappy, Skippy. We have a talented and very exciting group there. There is real growth for us apart from establishing a team that can make an impact immediately.
“He’s very good technically. His mobility as a midfielder, which I think is becoming more and more important in the game, is excellent. His ability to find space, to break lines with and without the ball is very, very good for a young player and a 20-year-old. That kind of thing in a midfielder in the modern game is very desirable. These days, a lot of times now, most managers realize that the game is becoming a transition game and you need people who can cover territory and do it intelligently, and it does him. He’s always in the right spaces, he’s always looking to be aggressive in his approach. Technically, he’s very, very good.”
Finally, Ange talked a little about what we could see from the Spurs in the friendly against the Lion City Sailors. Ange said Tanguy Ndombele is back after picking up a knock ahead of the first friendly, which means we could see him play on Wednesday. Postecoglou also said he plans to use the game to get games for players who need the extra fitness and that, like against West Ham, Spurs should expect to see two completely different XIs in the first and second halves.
“Everyone is doing well – Danish Scarlett is the one who has suffered with a bit of an injury. But he trained like this morning, he probably won’t be available tomorrow. Tanguy was the other one who has been a slow burner, but now he’s training again so he’s also available. So yes health-wise I think everyone is in good shape.
“Again, I think that tomorrow I will not use all. When we missed a game, this was the game where I would give playing time to almost everyone in the squad, but when we miss a game, I will probably still focus on the guys who need a game. So I’ll probably do two two student’s again, which means some will miss something, but they’ll do some work, and then we’ll have a full week of training after that.”
Tottenham kick off in their final preseason friendly on Wednesday morning at 7:30am ET, 12:30pm UK. The match will be televised on CBS Sports Network in the US and streamed on SpursPLAY.