22 July 2024

Ange Postecoglou explains why he left Celtic for Tottenham

Lo Celso is the only Spurs player ruled out for the Sheffield United game. Spurs are fit and feeling upbeat.

Tottenham Hotspur are just about as healthy as they’ve been for a long time. That’s the main takeaway from Ange Postecoglou’s press conference ahead of Spurs’ home match against Sheffield United tomorrow. Big Ange spoke to the assembled media and confirmed that the only Spurs first team player involved with the team since the beginning of the season not available for selection is Giovani Lo Celso, and that’s just as a precaution.

“Everyone’s back – they came back yesterday and we had an afternoon session, more of a recovery session for everyone. Today it was a full session and everyone was good, no issues. They all got through training and obviously we’ll see how they recover but at this moment in time they’ve come through unscathed.”

“[Gio] is not available for this weekend. He did train with us yesterday but we will give him another week and will hopefully be available for next weekend.

This includes Alejo Veliz, who had a small problem that he carried over from Rosario Central when Spurs signed him and only recently started training with the first team full time. We don’t know if it includes Ryan Sessegnon, but it likely doesn’t — in his weekly YouTube video a few days ago, Alasdair Gold expressed optimism on Sessegnon’s surgically repaired hamstring but suggested that he might not return to full fitness until sometime in October.

And of course there’s Rodrigo Bentancur who is just starting to do on-field work with Tottenham as he recovers from his long-term injury. Ange didn’t say when he’d be back but noted that he’s working hard on his recovery and is champing at the bit to play again.

“A couple of weeks ago [Rodrigo] came barging into my room wanting to start in the team. Rehab — talk to any player — that’s a tough thing. It’s not that you have to do the work. It’s the solitary element of it, where you’re not with the group. Just having him do the warm-ups and him being involved, he was buzzing yesterday. Then he was fairly dejected when we pulled him out after the warm-up. It’s good. It’s fair to say, he’s still got a fair bit of work to do. But great to have him involved, and I guess that just encourages him a bit more. It’s great to see.”

But everyone else is ready, and that’s good. Spurs are tissue-paper thin in some areas, especially at the back, something that Postecoglou noted when speaking of the recently-closed transfer window and the late departure of Davinson Sanchez.

“It’s fair to say we are a little bit light [at the back], but, at the same time, I thought for Davinson it was a good opportunity where he could get a long-term contract. We needed to rebuild and change this squad. There was no point us just tinkering around the edges. We need to do meaningful work, and it was never going to get done in just one window.

“Just as important was to create the opportunity for us now to go in in January, or the subsequent windows and bolster up that area. It’s fair to say we need, probably, another centre-back within the squad. Although, we’ve got players who are fairly functional in being able to do us a job in there.

“We’ve got young Ash in, who is working really hard and improving all the time. For us, to hold onto him for some sort of security would have been a missed opportunity. We need to change this squad, rebuild this team, and that was the reason we allowed Davinson to go.”

This press conference was the first opportunity for Postecoglou to really speak about Spurs’ newest signing Brennan Johnson. Ange was able to say in a little more in-depth way what appeals to him about Johnson’s game and what he can bring to Spurs’ first team.

“Great to get him in. He’s good a good profile for us — very similar to the other guys we brought in — in that he’s young but has had some good experience already. The footballing qualities he brings fit really well with what we want to do. He’s got energy, he’s got pace, he presses really well, he’s a wide player but can score goals. From that perspective, he ticks all the boxes. When I look at his career, he’s been at [Nottingham] Forest since he was a kid. That’s his football club but he’s taken the decision to go now and challenge himself. I think he’s a really good fit for us as a club. He’s had a couple of sessions with the boys. That group has been really good in embracing all the new players who have come in. I think he feels comfortable, and we’re looking forward to getting him into action.”

Postecoglou spent a lot of time speaking about the mental health and support available to his players, prompted by Richarlison’s announcement after his two games with Brazil this week that he was returning to England and seeking psychological help to get his “mind right” after a very difficult few months. Ange emphasized the humanity of his players, noted that there’s always something difficult happening in life, and that his players will always get the support they need from the club when they need it.

“I think with all the players they all get whatever help and assistance they require here. It doesn’t always happen in the public eye because most of it is done in-house. But we provide all the support and whatever the players need. Sometimes they seek it, sometimes we offer help. So whatever Richy needs, we’ll help him get to the space he wants to.

“From our perspective he’s put it out there because he was quite emotional after the game. And we’ll give him the support he needs. But we do that with all players and I think most professional clubs do. And my role within that is to make sure that whatever each player needs… sometimes it’s basic things like help with nutrition or relocating. Whatever it may be that the services are here and the help is here to get the players into the place they want to. What I will say is that no one has a perfect life. Sometimes we look at footballers and they do things well and we think they have all the money they need and that’s a perfect life. But that doesn’t make you immune from life itself, so I’m sure that every player in our dressing room is dealing with something.

“I think sometimes players fall into the trap of thinking their lives should be perfect because of the position they’re in but that’s not how life works. The things you do they don’t make you immune from what life throws at you. There’s always going to be something in your life that is not where you need it to be. It’s about keeping perspective, keeping a balance. There are probably parents and people this morning who have probably had a rough few days but they still have to front up for work and not lose their job because that’s part of life. That’s kind of the advice I give to all the players. To try and keep a balance because you’re always going to have something in your life that’s not absolutely where you want it to be.

“I think we do understand [mental health], it is just we ignore it. Who in their life doesn’t have something that is stressful? I have lived 58 years now and there has never been a time in my life where everything is perfect. I lost my father three years ago and he should have been here for the journey, so I have got to deal with it. That is me talking personally but everybody in this room at the moment, you could have one part of your life where it could be flying but there will be something. It could be a family member, a health issue, a financial issue because there is always something and footballers are not immune from that. Sometimes I think they fall into the trap to think they are, but they are not. Just because you have money or you are really good at something, life will still find a way to keep a balance so there will be stuff in there that will be stressful or upsetting and you’ve got to deal with that.”

Tottenham kick off against Sheffield United on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. UK at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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