Postecoglou’s first Tottenham XI and the missing players
Ange Postecoglou went pretty strong with his starting XI for his first match as Tottenham boss against West Ham in Australia. Usually a time when head coaches mix and match due to varying fitness levels in the squad, the 57-year-old named first-team players such as Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Harry Kane in his squad.
Postecoglou then handed debuts to new signings Guglielmo Vicario, James Maddison and Manor Solomon, giving Spurs fans a glimpse of what could potentially come later in the season given how strong his side were. Taking a total of 31 players on their summer tour, some players were always going to be absent from the playing squad with 14 places allocated to the substitutes.
Those who missed out entirely were Josh Keeley, Eric Dier, Joe Rodon, Djed Spence, Tanguy Ndombele, Son Heung-min and Dane Scarlett. Perhaps not the biggest surprise to see Dier, Spence and Son left out as the trio return from injury from the end of last season. Ndombele, who some fans believe could play a big role under the new boss, appeared to take a knock in training on Monday night and that may have played a part in his absence.
Brought to Tottenham to help the club return to their former style of play, Postecoglou’s Spurs side made a bright start to proceedings in Perth. The Lilywhites took the game to their opponents and had two good chances on goal inside the first ten minutes to take the lead.
The first came through Oliver Skipp after Sergio Reguilon had chipped the ball to Solomon, who in turn slotted the midfielder in only for Lukasz Fabianski to deny him from close range. The West Ham goalkeeper was then called into action minutes later, this time saving from Dejan Kulusevski.
Solomon, who linked up well with Reguilon, was again at the heart of the action for Spurs as he was the main architect after playing for the Swede. The new signing showed glimpses of his quality in his year with Fulham and was unlucky not to score a goal on his Tottenham debut just before half-time after cutting in from the left and seeing a curling effort beaten into the corner by Fabianski before he even looked an attempt saved after Reguilon ate him up.
READ MORE: Tottenham second-half player ratings vs West Ham: Udogie, Perisic, Devine and Lo Celso impress
Joining Tottenham on a free transfer, Solomon looks set to be a very astute signing for Postecoglou as he made things happen for Spurs in the final third and always looked lively during his time on the pitch.
Tax transfer must
Tottenham have been active in the transfer market this summer, but they have so far failed to strengthen the central defence. A major problem for the team last season after delivering 63 goals in the Premier League, Spurs’ defensive problems were again on display in Australia.
Playing very good football at times but finding himself 2-0 down, Postecoglou will not have been happy with the goals Spurs conceded. With Spurs not clearing a corner properly, he didn’t close down Jarrod Bowen for enough time and he was given acres of space to slot a cross in at the back post which Danny Ings converted.
It was all too easy for the striker as Reguilon challenged his ball with his foot instead of his head, allowing the former Liverpool man to slot beyond Vicario. Not long after, the Hammers doubled their tally with another header.
Young striker Divin Mubama was the player on the scoresheet this time with Tottenham completely asleep when West Ham played a short corner. The corner all came from Pedro Porro who played the ball back to Vicario and the keeper cleared it out as he tried to pass back to the Spaniard.
Bad from a Tottenham perspective, it was to get even worse from the corner as Mubama drifted between Porro and Japhet Tanganga with ease to nod home. Already clear that Tottenham need new defensive additions ahead of the opening game of the 2023/24 campaign, the two goals they conceded against West Ham have sent a message to Daniel Levy that he needs to get transfer deals above the line for new centre. – back ASAP.
Ange applauds the Tottenham duo
As expected in Tottenham’s first pre-season friendly of the summer, Postecoglou made a number of changes at the break to give his side minutes on the pitch. A total of 11 changes were made, with Destiny Udogie, Alfie Devine, Giovani Lo Celso and Richarlison just some of the players to come on.
Richarlison was heavily involved after the restart as Tottenham looked to find a way back into the game. After seeing his low cross for Ivan Perisic go out for a corner, the Brazilian had a couple of chances on goal for himself.
One of them saw him clip the outside of the post after a superb pass from Lo Celso split the defense and put him through on goal. Postecoglou certainly appreciated the link-up play between the duo as the TV cameras caught him applauding both for their work.
Not long after Lo Celso got the goal his performance deserved when he volleyed home after Davinson Sanchez pounced on Perisic’s cross. It was a very strong performance from the Argentine, and it has given Postecoglou plenty to think about.
Attack, attack, attack
Postecoglou’s first Tottenham game may have ended in defeat, but the boss can take plenty of positives from the 3-2 defeat at West Ham. Starting strongly before going 2-0 down after 23 minutes, Spurs finished the first half on top and were unlucky not to reduce the deficit through two chances on goal for Solomon, Cristian Romero’s misfired effort and Bissouma’s shot from point blank range territory.
Bissouma’s effort was Spurs at their eye-popping best as the midfielder danced his way into the area and linked extremely well with Skipp and Kane before Fabianski denied him what would have been a goal. Substituting all 11 players at half-time, the wholesale changes did not disrupt Spurs’ flow and they continued to pepper the West Ham goal with Devine, Lo Celso and Richarlison impressing in the final third.
He managed to restore parity through Lo Celso and Udogie and it was the Hammers who would go on to grab the winner when second-half substitute Gianluca Scamacca was put through on goal and he made no mistake with a rare opportunity for the club in the East London.
Tottenham were completely dominant in the second half and the match statistics highlighted just that. With 30 shots on target, 12 of them on target, the Hammers, by comparison, only managed four shots in total, but they were all on target.
With 72 per cent possession, Tottenham made 574 passes to West Ham’s 235 and their passing accuracy was 91 per cent compared to the Hammers’ 75 per cent. David Moyes’ men may have come out on top, but Postecoglou can take so many positives from the game after only working with his team for a short period.
It will be a trip under Postecoglou during the 2023/24 season and beyond.
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