LONDON — Jurgen Klopp has spent latest years speaking about Liverpool’s “mentality monsters,” however Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham are rising because the Reds’ rival for the billing because the staff with the best combating spirit within the Premier League.
Make no mistake: Liverpool nonetheless possess the formidable never-say-die angle that has seen the staff win each main honour (excluding the Europa League) that it has competed for since Klopp took cost in October, 2015. But Spurs under Postecoglou are displaying those self same qualities this season, which have fueled their climb to second place within the Premier League, some extent behind leaders Manchester City, after yet one more efficiency that was outlined by their refusal to desert hope of a constructive final result.
That it wanted a 96th minute personal purpose by Joël Matip to offer Spurs a 2-1 win on Saturday in opposition to a Liverpool staff lowered to 9 gamers, following crimson playing cards for Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, nonetheless speaks volumes of the dedication and want of Klopp’s facet. Though Spurs’ persistence proved essential.
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For so lengthy, Tottenham have been dismissed a staff with the recurring flaw of being unable to run the additional mile to win when it issues. Last season, that shortcoming noticed them end eighth within the Premier League and miss out on European qualification. It additionally led to Antonio Conte shedding his job as head coach, and paved the way in which for Harry Kane to move by means of the exit door to affix Bayern Munich in his seek for a primary main honour of a glittering goalscoring profession.
Considering Tottenham’s peerless capability to fall quick, Postecoglou clearly had a job on his fingers after leaving Scottish champions Celtic to take cost of the membership this summer time. But the previous Australia coach has already remodeled the temper across the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, each on and off the pitch.
When he arrived, the supporters had been protesting in opposition to the possession and chairman Daniel Levy, however now they solely sing in a single voice to serenade “Big Ange” with their re-working of Robbie Williams’ “Angels.”
On the pitch, the 58-year-old’s humility and honesty is being mirrored by a bunch of gamers who now possess the character that has been missing at Spurs for therefore lengthy. For the primary time shortly, Spurs have a supervisor who does not give the impression that he’s doing the membership a favour by being there, and his persona is rubbing off on the gamers. They clearly wish to play for Postecoglou, and the religion they’ve of their supervisor is proven of their performances.
Spurs have earned factors from shedding positions in away video games in opposition to Brentford and Burnley, scored twice in stoppage time to beat Sheffield United at dwelling earlier this month, after which went to Arsenal and twice got here from behind to earn a draw within the North London derby on the Emirates. It was a special story in opposition to Liverpool, with Klopp’s staff cancelling out Heung-min Son’s opening purpose — Luis Díaz had already scored with a purpose wrongly dominated out as offside by VAR, an error that was later acknowledged — with a Cody Gakpo equaliser whereas lowered to 10 males.
Then, when Liverpool had been pressured to play with 9 gamers for the ultimate 20 minutes following Diogo Jota’s dismissal for 2 fast yellow playing cards, the organisation and work-rate of Klopp’s facet threatened to disclaim Spurs all three factors. Spurs had been lastly rewarded within the sixth minute of stoppage time, when defender Joel Matip turned Pedro Porro’s cross into his personal web, even when it was harsh on a Liverpool facet that had made it so powerful for the house staff.
“You want to put the game to bed earlier than we did,” Postecoglou stated. “But when you score that late, it can help build the spirit within the group.”
After solely seven video games of the season, it is nonetheless too early to label Spurs as title contenders, particularly if you issue within the membership’s historical past of over-promising and under-delivering. The lack of Kane’s targets could finally come again to hang-out them when Son stops scoring, or if Richarlison is unable to search out constant kind in entrance of purpose.
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For his half, Postecoglou, who guided Celtic to successive league titles throughout two seasons with the golf equipment, says he has not set a goal for his new staff but.
“I don’t have a schedule on marking progress,” he stated. “I’m not sitting here thinking we’re ahead of some schedule. For me, it’s just not of interest. I don’t know how far we can go with the group, we just have to keep kicking on.”
But in a sport that showcased the perfect of the Premier League, with two groups taking part in to the height of their powers, Spurs got here by means of as winners. That hasn’t occurred too typically previously, and it is a tribute to Postecoglou that, so quickly after his arrival, his gamers now have the mentality to do what their predecessors solely succeeded in failing to do.