Close this search box.

Postecoglou makes Tottenham prediction… and picks out ‘big challenge’ in first campaign

Tottenham made a dazzling start under Postecoglou but a home defeat started a slump

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou watching Spurs football

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou says his side’s thrilling home defeat to Chelsea in November was a moment of realisation in his promising first campaign at the club – and has predicted some players will establish themselves as “real heroes” next season.

Spurs had been top of the Premier League after a 10-game unbeaten run to start 2023/24, including eight wins and a 2-2 draw at arch-rivals and sustained title challengers Arsenal.

They took a sixth-minute lead against their London rivals but had Cristian Romero sent off before Cole Palmer equalised from the penalty spot. Micky van de Ven also exited through injury before Nicolas Jackson struck in the 75th minute and completed a hat-trick with two goals during added time to make it 4-1 and consign Tottenham to a first defeat.

“At the start of the game, we were flying,” Postecoglou told Spurs’ website. “We scored and Sonny [Heung-min] was inches offside from getting our second.

“Then Romero gets sent off, we had a penalty against us, Micky does his hamstring, so you’ve lost your two starting centre-halves. In that moment, my instincts weren’t about the game – they were ‘here it is, the first big challenge for us.'”

Tottenham results ‘inconsistent’

The result was the first of three consecutive losses as part of a five-game winless run which proved Postecoglou’s premonition correct, and Spurs were hindered further by long-term defensive absentees.

“If we hadn’t got off to a good start, with results and performances, it could have been even more difficult and challenging than it was,” he said. “We had a healthy squad and a strong bench, which kind of gave us the momentum which carried us through.

“I knew, from then on, it would be an interesting insight into where we’re at and how we react to extreme adversity. I was really happy with the way we did that. We were still competitive all the way through, although results were inconsistent. That gave me a lot of heart.”

Spurs only won consecutive games once during the second half of the season and their unsuccessful bid to reach the Uefa Champions League was almost fatally damaged by four consecutive defeats in May.

A fifth-placed finish remained an improvement on their eighth position the previous season, and fans and onlookers admired Postecoglou’s bold tactics and personable approach off the pitch.

Spurs squad 2024/25 contains ‘real heroes’

“One of the primary reasons I was brought in was to change the football, and I think most people would agree that has changed,” the Australian reflected, looking ahead to 2024/25.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll see our football on a more consistent basis. I’m a lot more confident that, as a group, we’ll be able to sustain our levels of performance.

“They’re going to get some real heroes to follow in the next couple of years. I can see quite a few in this group who are going to end up making a real impact.”

Picture of Ben Miller

Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.