The Australian-born Spurs hero, Ange Postecoglou, has recently had his fortunes completely turned around. With eight wins and two draws in his first ten Premier League games, the Australian was unbeatable and helped Tottenham take the lead. But since then, the English league has retaliated, losing to Wolves, Chelsea, and now Aston Villa.
This implies that if Tottenham loses four straight games at the Etihad in a match against Manchester City, he will become the first manager to do so in almost 20 years. That previous run occurred when Daniel Levy, a new young chairman, was still getting his bearings and honing his skills.
By March 2003, Levy had hired and fired club legend Glenn Hoddle and handed the reins temporarily to caretaker-in-residence David Pleat. Having led them into the mid-table doldrums, their run of results up to Easter was a sign that the club was unravelling.
Manchester United beat Spurs 3-0, Southampton and Chelsea by the only goal of the game and then Everton beat them 3-1 to ignite talk even of a relegation battle. Thankfully, Postecoglou’s wobble is nowhere near so catastrophic.
Admittedly, Tottenham have dropped out of the top four, but that is more of a reality check than a crash. Something clearly changed in that 4-1 defeat to Chelsea that sparked this recent slump and it does not take a genius to work out what.
They lost Cristian Romero to a three-match suspension and Micky Van Den Ven to a long-term injury that looks set to keep him out till next year. That high-line press simply has not worked since then. In the 235 minutes since Romero was given his marching orders, Spurs have conceded eight goals. That is an average of around three a game.
Before that, Spurs’ success had been built on a back four that had conceded barely a goal a game in its opening eight-and-a-bit Premier League fixtures. A mixture of Emerson Royal, Eric Dier and Ben Davies have filled in but with catastrophic gaps, and despite taking the lead in all three games, Spurs have ended well beaten.
Postecoglou, though, is not for changing. And the likeable Aussie might just have continued to get away with it were it not for one thing. The absence of Harry Kane. With every goal the England captain continues to fire in for Bayern Munich, it reinforces what a loss he is to the Tottenham equation. His ability to convert the chances they will inevitably create at Manchester City might at least have given Spurs a shooter’s chance.
Instead, ironically, it is Postecoglou’s “no fear” attitude that will have many Spurs fans hiding behind the sofa next Sunday.