Lewis Ambrose·6 June 2023
Lewis Ambrose·6 June 2023
The summer has kicked off and Tottenham have a new head coach, appointing Ange Postecoglou after two trophy-filled seasons at Celtic.
And, as is often the case, a new head coach will mean new chances for players and a new way of playing.
With Postecoglou’s Celtic side more than most, the style of play over the past two years has been instantly recognisable.
First off, before getting into positions and roles, there are the demands placed on every single player. Before anything else, from back to front, every single player in a Postecoglou team has to leave everything on the pitch.
The midfield and the frontline are as full as energy and hunger to win possession back as anyone else and that will be expected from his Tottenham side as well.
Now onto how Celtic actually lined up more often than not …
Most notably at the top of the pitch, the wingers stayed wide, relished attacking their fullback one-on-one, and looked to get to the byline before delivering for the striker and the winger from the opposite side lurking at the back post.
The two ‘number eights’ were full of energy and on-ball quality, drifting wide into space (or to cover a gap) and making late runs into the box with the ball on the flank.
The most important thing for holding midfielder, Callum McGregor at Celtic, is quality on the ball and an ability to dictate play, knowing when to play safe or when to speed things up with a quick turn, a big switch, or a pass through the lines.
And then, perhaps most notably, there’s the fullbacks, who are tasked with supporting the winger on their side but are often also found tucking into midfield to give the team superiority in the middle.
They have to be incredibly comfortable on the ball to play this way, ideally strong on both feet, and have a great sense for when to sit alongside the holding midfield and offer a short passing option or when to burst beyond the midfield, with or without the ball, without leaving huge gaps at the back.
So how does all of this apply to Spurs and what is a Tottenham XI likely to look like in 2023/24?
If Postecoglou does stick with his preferred 4-3-3, there are plenty of question marks.
Hugo Lloris has already spoken about “the end of an era” and is likely to move on this summer, so a new first choice goalkeeper will be needed.
If the Australian opts to use his fullbacks in the same way then Destiny Udogie is a natural fit, having drifted inside with Udinese all season long, but there is a bigger question mark on the right, with Pedro Porro much more of a traditional wing-back.
In midfield, the Australian does want technical quality in the final third matched to go with energy and defensive hard work. It’s hard to see more than one of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Yves Bissouma and Rodrigo Bentancur in the team as an eight, though Bentancur is probably the current squad’s best fit for the deep-lying playmaker role occupied by McGregor at Celtic.
Perhaps Dejan Kulusevski could play centrally or there will be a spot in midfield for Giovani Lo Celso and/or Tanguy Ndombele after the pair both spent the last 18 months out on loan.
And then there’s the question right at the top of the pitch. Out wide, Son Heung-min is an ideal fit when in form. Richarlison could be too, but he could also be an ideal Postecoglou striker if Harry Kane is to leave this summer.
Still, another quick, direct winger is likely to be needed if Tottenham want to play the way their new boss wants.