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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Dan Kilpatrick

Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou agrees with Mauricio Pochettino as united squad reap rewards

Togetherness and team spirit are never easy to quantify in football, but there has long been a sense at Tottenham of an unsettled dressing room beset by factions.

Under the previous three head coaches, senior players have spoken about a loss of "values" or the need to "behave as a team", while Ange Postecoglou's predecessor, Antonio Conte, last season accused his squad of being "selfish" and "playing for themselves" in a memorable parting shot.

On Saturday, as Spurs completed the latest-ever comeback in Premier League history with a 2-1 win over Sheffield United, it was striking just how united Postecoglou's revamped squad is. There were riotous scenes at full-time, as the players joined hands to celebrate in front of the South Stand.

It was not just the starting XI enjoying the moment, either. Tellingly, Postecoglou's substitutes all played their part in the comeback and the aftermath, Richarlison coming off the bench to equalise and set up Dejan Kulusevski's 100th-minute winner, and Ivan Perisic, debutant Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg also decisive.

Substitutes joined in the wild celebrations in the 100th minute. (Getty Images)

Even the unused substitutes, including Eric Dier, were quick to mob man-of-the-moment Richarlison at full-time.

Perhaps it was all a bit much for a home win over the newly promoted Blades, but the manner of the victory felt like another big step in the development of Postecoglou's young team.

The manager is obviously an enormous factor in the squad's growing unity, so too new captain Heung-min Son, a player who "transcends groups within the squad", according to Postecoglou. Son literally pushed Richarlison to the front of the terraces so he could soak up the applause at the end of a difficult week, in which the Brazilian revealed he would seek "psychological help" to address stuttering form and a tough five months away from the pitch.

(Getty Images)

It is hard to imagine some other top-flight captains revelling so much in their competition for a starting spot being the game-changer.

"I was probably more happy than him," Son said. "This is [being a] part of family. We are getting really, really tight in the changing room. Everyone is working for each other, running for each other, fighting for each other."

Their unity was obvious in the way Spurs kept going against a stubborn opponent, who defended with a sea of yellow shirts and were happy to disrupt the game, particularly after Gustavo Hamer fired them in front against the run of play in the 73rd minute.

Postecoglou was afterwards pleased with his side's calmness and the winner was right out of the manager's playbook, Destiny Udogie winning the ball back in the press before a slick passing move was finished emphatically by Kulusevski.

Mauricio Pochettino instinctively understood that to compete with clubs that would always outspend Spurs on wages and transfer fees, the squad had to be more united than their rivals.

It is early days yet, but Postecoglou appears to understand the same.

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