Praise and criticism coexist. While Enze Postecoglou’s attacking style of play has been widely praised, there are certainly concerns about the lack of results.
Tottenham Hotspur drew 3-3 with Manchester City in the 14th round of the 2023-24 Premier League (PL) at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. The draw snapped a three-game losing streak for Tottenham.
Spurs have been impressive under Postecoglou this season, playing an attacking style of soccer that pushes the line to the extreme. They would press hard from the front and then create goals through sharp attacks centered on Son Heung-min and James Maddison. They also pulled up the defense to create space and create chances.
The result was the icing on the cake. Unbeaten since the start of the season, and at one point leading the league, they lost the core of their defense against Chelsea when Cristian Romero and Mickey van der Vaart were sent off and injured, respectively. This, coupled with injuries to the likes of Maddison and Xherdan Shaqiri, led to back-to-back defeats to Wolverhampton and Aston Villa, and a 3-3 draw at Man City, leaving them winless in four games.
There’s been a lot of talk in the UK. While Postecoglou’s football is certainly impressive, it’s been pointed out that he needs a Plan B with more than 10 injuries. Add to that the fact that key defenders Romero and van der Vaart will not be available for the Man City game, and it’s hard to see how he can use tactics that will boost his backline.
But Postecoglou disagreed. “This is our identity,” Postecoglou said. “It’s a difficult situation, but it doesn’t matter who we play. We will continue to play our football. It’s a good test of our project to be a team that plays a certain way. There is no better way to do that than against the best. It’s a strong test at the Etihad Stadium,” he said, calling for attacking football.
“The players are looking forward to it and so am I. “Games like this give us a good indication of where we are at. If you look at the best teams, they have one common trait. They have a plan, they invest in it, and they stick to it. They don’t shy away from struggles at first. If you look at the teams that have done well in recent years – Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool – they’ve all done that, and you have to do that because whatever you believe in, it’s only tested in the toughest of times.”
In fact, Postecoglou played attacking soccer against City as well. Playing a 4-2-3-1- formation with captain Son Heung-min, Hill, Johnson, Kuluczewski, Lo Celso, Bissouma, Udogie, Davies, Emerson, Foro, and Vicario in the starting lineup, Spurs pressed hard and played at a high tempo against City. In the end, an early goal from Son Heung-min and goals from Lo Celso and Kuluczewski were enough to earn a point against City.
However, there are critics. While Tottenham may have come away with a point, it was also a game that could have ended in a humiliating defeat had they not been so lucky.
In particular, former Spurs manager Tim Sherwood appeared on the TalkSPORT program on the 4th and said, “I would like to see a change in tactics. “When you play a team like Man City, the worst thing you can do is give the ball away in your own half and concede goals,” he said. At Postecoglou, we believe in passing. Passing or dribbling is a tactic that goes back and forth, sometimes with the best results and sometimes with the most ridiculous results. Players play with risk,” he points out.