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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Simon Collings

Ange Postecoglou interview: Tottenham boss talks playing style, Spurs rebuild and repaying Daniel Levy’s faith

When Ange Postecoglou met Daniel Levy to discuss becoming Tottenham’s new head coach, the Australian let his football do the talking.

There was no glitzy PowerPoint presentation or attempt to win over the Spurs chairman with an elaborate sales pitch. Instead, Postecoglou pointed to a body of work that extends over two decades with Brisbane Roar, the Australian national team, Yokohama F Marinos and Celtic.

“I am not that kind of person anyway to kind of sell myself,” Postecoglou tells Standard Sport. “It’s a weird thing when you are talking to people about what you are going to do and who you are and all those kind of things.

“I’ve been managing for 26 years: if you want to know how my team is going to play, there is plenty of evidence there.”

Three weeks into the job and it is already easy to see why Levy turned to the 57-year-old. Spurs’s style of play has quickly been transformed, evidenced by Tuesday’s 3-2 friendly defeat by West Ham here in Perth, in which they had 30 shots on goal and played with a commitment to attacking, which has not been seen since Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure.

The mood among the squad during their Asia-Pacific tour, which has now moved on to Bangkok, is increasingly optimistic, the majority of players welcoming a move to ball-heavy sessions and away from Antonio Conte’s repetitive and gruelling drills.

Postecoglou keeps conversations with his players short, usually only a minute, but some, including Yves Bissouma, have already said he is a father figure. In contrast to Conte, the training schedule has been planned in advance and stuck to, and has not involved double sessions every day.

New project: Ange Postecoglou believes Tottenham will have the support system in place to make his reign a success (Getty Images)

For all the talk of a structural revamp, it is clear Spurs are going to be built around the charismatic Postecoglou, and his challenge is to not only return the club to the top but implement a complete cultural reset, with Harry Kane claiming in March the club had lost some of its “values” over the past few years.

Plainly, Levy is prepared to give Postecoglou the tools to rebuild over time, and the head coach is expecting support from all angles, including the chairman himself. Scott Munn will soon join as chief football officer — effectively Levy’s No2 — and a director of football will be appointed to replace Fabio Paratici.

“For me, the immediate focus in the short-term is making sure the team is ready for the start of the Premier League season,” says Postecoglou. “Then all these other things, you kind of build around you. Scott will come in at some point. I am sure they will be appointing a director of football at some point.

“But the rest of it, you are better off letting that happen organically, because they have got to get to know a little about the way I work and kind of the way how I go about things.

“Because, ultimately, these things should be there to support the manager of the club. Whoever that is, they want that person to be successful.

“Sustained success only happens when the whole organisation is working sort of on the same hymn sheet in terms of what we are going to do.”

Levy’s relationship with Postecoglou, as it has been with Tottenham’s previous head coaches, will be key to making this rebuild a success.

So far I have had all the support I’ve needed in terms of the staff I’ve brought in, the transfers we made and it’s just got to continue like that

Ange Postecoglou

Levy’s closest partnership was with Pochettino, with the pair even going on holiday together during the Argentine’s five-and-a-half-year tenure. Postecoglou has suggested he will not go down that route, but there is already a mutual respect growing between the pair, who are both straight-talkers.

“Whenever you go into a role like this, you always know that relationships are going to help you as a manager to get the things you need to work the way you want,” says Postecoglou.

“Daniel is no different to all the other [executives] I have worked with. They are very passionate about their club. Then, for me, it’s about saying, ‘What’s that relationship going to look like?’

“Again, I think what he wants to do is support me. That will be easy as he gets to know me a bit better, which is only understandable.

“So far I have had all the support I’ve needed in terms of the staff I’ve brought in, the transfers we made and it’s just got to continue like that.”

Despite his record of success in all his previous jobs, there is a undoubtedly an element of risk in hiring Postecoglou, who has never worked in one of Europe’s top five leagues, and he is determined to repay Levy.

“He is the one that made the decision to bring me in,” he adds. “So, for me, there’s an obligation I have now to make sure I repay that faith. He gave me this responsibility.”

Levy is under pressure after the failures of Conte and Jose Mourinho before him, and there appeared to be little obvious strategy during their tenures, aside from having a big name in charge.

Similarly, Postecoglou will be at the heart of Spurs’s new project but looks a much better fit for the club’s values. Crucially, he understands the importance of managing up.

“Oh, you have to, mate,” he says. “It’s very important, because it doesn’t matter who the manager is, it doesn’t matter how brilliant you think you are, you do need support. You need resources, you need an environment set up the way you want it if you are going to be successful.”

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