Tottenham Hotspur

Ange Postecoglou took the moral high ground over VAR – now he’s changed his tune

MAC OF THE NET: Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou tried to take a stance and has now realised it’s not possible when the stakes are so high in the Premier League

When Ange Postecoglou asserted in November that officials and referees ought to be treated with greater respect, he assumed the moral high ground.

When things are going great and your team has just suffered their first loss of the season, it’s simple to do. Even after an out-of-sorts Chelsea side had thoroughly defeated a nine-man Tottenham team, the charm offensive was still in full swing back then.

“I’ve never have and I never will talk to a referee about the rules of the game,” he said. “I was taught that you grow up and you respect the officials.” Postecoglou couldn’t argue with the officials that night because they got every decision right as Spurs got two men sent off for poor tackles and ill-discipline.

It’s amusing, though, how management may abruptly shift course when the going gets tough and the injuries mount. With every other Premier League manager in the pit pointing at the officials and referees, Postecoglou has now lost his moral superiority.

He has every right to do so. After Spurs’ most recent loss of the season to Brighton, Lewis Dunk ought to have been sent off for his challenge on Dejan Kulusevski. This may have resulted in another injury for the team.

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Dejan Kulusevski was the victim of a foul that went unpunished by VAR

When asked about the VAR’s decision to award a penalty in the first half thanks to Kulusevski’s shirt-pull on Danny Welbeck, the Australian boss fumed: “It was obviously clear and obvious because it only took him [referee Jarred Gillett] three minutes to see it on the screen and VAR picked up everything today except the one tackle which nearly cost me another player. So that’s their decisions.”

The VAR should not be missing incidents like that when they get punished in other games. Standards, consistency etc. But Postecoglou tried to take a stance and has now realised it’s not possible when the stakes are so high in the Premier League.

The same happened at Celtic. Not long after he arrived in Scotland he was asked about VAR, and said: “I’m totally

I’m conflicted about it. That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. Then he was calling it a “bit of a mess” shortly after the year began.

Eddie Howe has to believe that the Newcastle team’s January schedule might make the post-Christmas depressing situation much worse.

Liverpool away, fierce competitors In the FA Cup, Sunderland is playing away and is hoping for a shock before facing Manchester City and then soaring high-flying Aston Villa.

Before the month is out, the Magpies might be in the bottom half of the standings. Howe was upbeat because he thinks this could be the month when they save their season.

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