Tottenham Hotspur

What Postecoglou kept yelling at Son, why he grabbed Cristian Romero and Maddison’s apology

Here are our Tottenham Hotspur talking points after their 4-0 defeat at Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon

Tottenham had got through the first 21 minutes without conceding a goal – the point at which they were 5-0 down at St. James’ Park a year ago; this must be preferable to that horror show, right?

No, not in a big way. Eddie Howe’s team needed just 27% of the play and 185 passes in a boisterous stadium to defeat a Spurs defense that was so generous that you could have assumed that manager Cristian Stellini had chosen his team again.

Due to the fact that significantly more was expected this time around, the most recent loss at Newcastle turned out to be nearly as terrible as its predecessor. It was a performance that exposed every flaw and shortcoming of a team that is still a long way from being the one that Angel Postecoglou anticipates challenging for the Premier League championship the next season.

The Australian’s system requires everyone to be switched on, playing their part, physical in their play and most of all brave in their passing and movement. Without that it looks one-dimensional with the same rigid attempts to get the ball out wide and open to any opposition who wants to knock a ball over the top to a willing runner.

At its best, the Postecoglou way is a high energy display of total football with players interchanging positions and carving opposition defences apart and keeping the ball high up the pitch, only allowing the odd counter-attack that can be mopped up by a speedy centre-back or covering team-mate.

That was certainly not the case in the heaviest defeat of the Postecoglou era so far. Other than a string of early Timo Werner chances, Spurs created little and again struggled against an organised, packed defence with quick counter-attacking players.

The Postecoglou system falters if the players lack the courage to pass between the lines and run into areas to receive the ball. They have to play fast risky forward balls out from the back to beat the press and break the lines and to provide them with options requires movement.

That is what the Australian has been getting his coaches to drill into the squad over the past eight or nine months more than anything, but in the face of the opposition his players can sometimes revert to type.

If there are no options and they play the ball backwards then they invite the opposition upon themselves and make life incredibly difficult.

On Saturday, Tottenham’s passing success percentage was excellent throughout the team. You would think it would be a positive thing, but it was just a sign of how often Postecoglou’s guys were trying short safe passes.

“Anyone who’s played here before knows what kind of game you’re in for when you come here,” stated James Maddison. “I guess it still kind of caught us off guard. We simply made careless mistakes; we should have played forward and shown a little more bravery with the ball instead of going for the easy pass backwards, which would have only increased pressure.

“At 0-0 I felt like there was space there to capitalise on. You get the feeling sometimes in a game as a player about the space in between the lines and in wide areas, but we didn’t capitalise on it and we played too safe. We didn’t play that line-breaking pass enough times and it cost us I think.”

That’s not to say Postecoglou is blameless. Just six days before he had reacted quickly to a failing performance with half-time changes which were successful but this time he just seemed to watch on as his team wilted under the pressure.

By his own admission, he now has a squad strong enough to change things around whenever he feels like it – and it was a far strong bench than Newcastle’s – but he allowed the game to run its course until six minutes after After three players eventually entered the game at the customary hour, Spurs were behind 3-0.

It was a day that illustrated some of the shortcomings of the Postecoglou system that detractors will highlight, including the errors that result from incessant back-passing, the openings behind the inverted full-backs, the opportunity for opponents to counter with balls over the top of the high line, and the set-piece issues.Although the Tottenham head coach may not give a damn, he cannot allow the players to start to question the foundation he is creating.

On the whole, Spurs’ away form is generally pretty good. They have lost just four games on the road in the Premier League this season, one more than Arsenal and Manchester City and the fourth fewest away losses in the competition.

Mainly there have been too many draws on the road, their total of six the highest in the league. Tottenham fans might have taken a draw before the game – they certainly would now – but what they were served up was never in danger of bringing a point back down south.

It was such a poor result that it knocked Tottenham out of the top four below Aston Villa without Unai Emery’s side needing to kick a ball. Spurs will now have to rely on Arsenal doing similar to Villa, the worst of all desires – to want your local rivals to win. Technically to also help the Premier League’s chances of getting Champions League football for the fifth place team in case they need it, Tottenham could do with the Gunners also beating Bayern Munich in midweek. Yes it feels wrong. This is not how football fandom is meant to work at all.

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