Ange Postecoglou does not officially begin work as Tottenham Hotspur‘s new head coach until July 1, but one look at his to-do list might encourage him to start planning early.
Spurs endured a disappointing 2022-23 campaign in which they finished eighth in the Premier League, missing out on European football altogether for the first time since 2010 and extending the wait for a trophy into a 16th year.
Postecoglou has a track record of success. He won five of the six trophies available to him in two seasons at Celtic, guided Yokohama F Marinos to a J-League title in Japan, and his four years in charge of the Australia men’s national team saw them win their first Asian Cup in 2015.
Nevertheless, the Spurs job represents a significant step up for the 57-year-old, especially given the mixture of frustration and expectation permeating Tottenham’s fan base. The club, who have one of the finest stadium/training ground combinations in world football, have struggled to deliver success on the field, but could Postecoglou change that?
ESPN takes a look at the immediate challenges facing the new manager.
The first major issue of Postecoglou’s tenure could be the biggest. The shape of Tottenham’s summer, next season and beyond will be heavily influenced by Kane’s next move. The 29-year-old striker has one year remaining on his contract but has so far shown no willingness to sign a new deal. Real Madrid and Manchester United are interested in a transfer but Tottenham, to date, are reluctant to entertain any offers.
So, assuming a suitable approach is made for Kane — and his transfer fee could be worth £100 million in the circumstances — there are two courses of action: either accept a bid and use the money to rebuild the squad, or ensure Kane honours the final year of his existing deal and maximise the opportunity of having one of the game’s finest forwards at your disposal for another year. There is always the possibility that an exceptional season for Spurs would convince Kane to sign a contract extension, but it comes with the risk of losing him for nothing in 2024.
Missing out on European football is a major financial blow to a club where the margins are closely managed; Spurs made a post-tax loss of £50.1m in the year to June 2022, and the club announced a capital increase of £150m last summer to back former boss Antonio Conte, a financial mechanism the club cannot realistically activate every season. There will obviously be a desire to support Postecoglou in the market but Spurs are not Manchester City or Newcastle United.
On the one hand, a rebuild would receive a major financial boost from Kane’s exit, but on the other, what would it say about the club’s future prospects that their star player has left? Both Real and United are yet to play their hand, so things could change. But for the time being, Kane has not pushed to leave and Spurs are playing down the prospect of letting him go. If this situation persists, Postecoglou has 12 months to convince Kane he can finally realise his trophy-winning aspirations at Tottenham.
Could Ange Postecoglou tempt Harry Kane to stay at Tottenham?
James Olley details what Ange Postecoglou will look to bring to Spurs if he agrees to take over as manager.
Win over the fans
After delivering Celtic’s eighth domestic treble in their history with the 3-1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Postecoglou spoke candidly about his journey in Scotland.
“Without beating about the bush, I was ‘a joke,'” he said. “A lot of people made fun of me. But the supporters, for their own reasons, put their collective arm around me and said: ‘No he’s one of ours.’ It was up to me to repay that faith.”
Postecoglou has enhanced his reputation during two years with Celtic, but there is once again a degree of scepticism over his appointment in certain quarters. #NotoAnge became a popular hashtag among sections of the Tottenham’s fan base as news spread of the imminent appointment and his lack of experience in Europe’s biggest leagues could quickly become an issue if he does not begin the season well.
He is also walking into a potentially toxic environment. Protests against chairman Daniel Levy and club owners ENIC became a regular occurrence at home games towards the end of last season, and a slow start would stir up that ill-feeling once more. Postecoglou is Levy’s 13th permanent manager in 22 years and those individuals are not immune from criticism aimed at the club’s hierarchy; when Nuno Espirito Santo took charge in June 2021, supporters were chanting “you don’t know what you’re doing” at him by the end of October.
The Kane decision will be a key factor in shaping perceptions. Keep him and it will be a vindication of Postecoglou’s appointment; let him leave with a progressive plan to replace him, and fans do not have to fear a post-Kane era. Anything in between will raise concerns Postecoglou is not the right man for the job.
Implement a clear style
“Ange brings a positive mentality and a fast, attacking style of play,” Levy said after Postecoglou’s appointment was confirmed. “He has a strong track record of developing players and an understanding of the importance of the link from the academy — everything that is important to our club.”
Both of those traits suffered under Conte. The Italian showed little interest in developing players, urging Spurs to sign those with more experience who were ready to perform at highest level.
And the football was largely terrible. At its best, Conte’s 3-4-3 system was an effective framework delivering stability, but the team increasingly looked stagnant in that shape. Too often, Tottenham were passive at the start of matches, falling behind before trying to rally. It was hardly in keeping with the club’s “To Dare Is To Do” motto, and so there are high hopes Postecoglou’s high-press, front-foot style is a better fit. He will have a full preseason to implement his philosophy but, as with any manager, he will want new signings to help with that progression.
Stamp his authority on signings
Spurs currently do not have a director of football. Levy has a wealth of experience in transfer negotiations, but the club are looking to replace Fabio Paratici, who resigned in April after losing his appeal against a 30-month FIFA ban from the game relating to alleged false accounting at his former club Juventus.
Many managers have struggled in the battle for influence over Tottenham’s transfer plans. Conte had high demands that Tottenham only partially agreed to, creating resentment on both sides that eventually led to his sacking in March.
Nowhere is this better exemplified than at wing-back. On the left, Spurs followed Conte’s advice and signed Ivan Perisic, a player in his early-30s with a wealth of experience but no transfer value. On the right, they acquired Djed Spence for £20m in the same window from Middlesbrough — a highly promising but rough-around-the-edges youngster. Unwilling to nurture a precocious talent, Conte quickly described Spence as a “club signing” and sent him off on loan to Rennes in January.
Spurs can’t afford any major disagreements in their approach to the market, and Postecoglou appears better suited to their tradition of signing younger players who need time to develop than Conte ever was.
It could be a busy summer. They will likely need a goalkeeper after Hugo Lloris publicly stated his intention to leave, while at least two defenders and a creative midfielder would be obvious upgrades. Several players — including Harry Winks, Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso — will be made available.
Postecoglou hasn’t officially started yet but time is already of the essence.