There was a moment during the Spurs-Chelsea game last night where the commentators quoted Ange Postecoglou’s incredible home team stats.
He didn’t lose a single domestic game at Celtic Park. His record stretched back more than 50 games, including some in Japan. It was an extraordinary admission of this man’s incredible talents as a manager.
But at half time they were dissecting his tactics in a very negative way.
By full time, after Chelsea had won 4-1, Jamie Carragher was ripping them to pieces.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, of Spurs still trying to chase an equaliser with nine men whilst playing a high defensive line. “It would be risky with eleven men let alone like that.”
These are valid criticisms. These were concerns we all shared, especially in Europe. But this is the first chance the pundits down there have had to pick over the bones of a defeat at Spurs. None of them expect his team to go the distance.
I don’t myself, although he has sorted out a dressing room full of egotists and bent them to his will in a quite incredible way.
The snobbery of it is unreal though. They still sneer at this guy and his accomplishments up until now, as though they were nothing.
I know a few Spurs fans and I told them when he was at Celtic that they ought to come up to Glasgow and watch what I was calling “Europe’s most exciting football.” They didn’t believe me. They do now.
Yet the press down there is getting ready to tear strips off the guy and I actually understand why and I get what they are saying.
I loved that Spurs chased the game last night even with nine men, I loved that they didn’t just give up and settle for a loss … but there were ways to attempt it which didn’t have to leave them so exposed.
I joked last night that Brendan would have found a way, but it was only half a joke. He would certainly have kept it tight whilst trying to pull it off.
The whole game was insane, with VAR again playing a starring role for all the wrong reasons – five goals were chopped off or reversed and there were 21 minutes of time added on – and Ange lamented it in the aftermath.
But he was also at great pains not to criticise the officials, which is probably easier to do south of the border … up here I hated that he did that, I thought that it was madness and I am glad that Rodgers is not the type to stay silent.
When Ange was asked about the wide open style of football he told Spurs fans and the media down there what we already knew; this is how he plays and he’s not for changing it. “It’s just who we are mate, it’s who we’re gonna be as long as I’m here,” he said.
“If we go down to five men, we’ll have a go.”
The hacks couldn’t believe that someone would talk like that. It challenges the orthodoxy. It breaks all the rules. Last night was the first time it was properly exposed by EPL opposition. I fear that this is just the start.
There is a brilliance to what he wants to do, but a naivety as well and although I was rather ambivalent about his success or failure in England, genuinely not caring either way, there is an element of the romantic about what he’s trying to do there and because it’s a good reflection on us if he can make it I think I’d now like to see him pull it off.
But still I have my doubts, and I think that for all their arrogance those English critics are going to eventually be proved right, that such blazing, all-out attack can’t work indefinitely.
Once teams figure it out, there are too many good players and too many good sides down there for blitzkrieg football to deliver the trophies … but I’ll tell you what, it’s going to be entertaining, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride watching them try it and he’ll never be short of offers.
Because that was crazy-entertaining last night, and it was no wonder that Spurs fans applauded the team off the pitch at the end although they were comfortably beat.