Ange Postecoglou has say on Ben White gloves moment, Timo Werner future and Tottenham set pieces

Ange Postecoglou has given his verdict on the moment Arsenal defender Ben White tried to undo Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario's gloves and has spoken again about the team's set piece problems as well as Timo Werner's future.

In Sunday's North London derby, White was involved in a couple of incidents with Vicario. The first involved him trying to distract the Italian by attempting to flick open the Velcro on his goalkeeper gloves as the corner was about to come in that Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg would head into his own net.

Then before half-time, White ran around and rammed himself backwards into Vicario, forcing the Spurs stopper towards his own goal line and out of position as Kai Havertz sent a free header into the net.

Postecoglou was asked whether he felt the first moment with Vicario's gloves was a player employing the 'dark arts' as some call it or simply cheating.

"It’s a strategy. You can label it, but it’s a strategy. I don’t take a lot of interest in that stuff, never have. I’m not casting judgement, but I just don’t really care. If people are going to think that's going to give them an advantage or whatever, I just don’t worry about that stuff. I just try to focus on building teams that win things," he said.

On whether it distracted Vicario, the Australian added: "You know what? If it's not going to be that then it's going to be something else. Who cares? I know it’s great theatre. Whether he’s trying to undo his glove, tickle his armpit, or whatever, I don't care. I try to get my players not to worry about that stuff, not focus on that stuff.

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"It's not important and if you want to go down that avenue, what’s he supposed to do? Turn around and throw a punch and knock him out or say ‘please don’t touch me’. What does that do? Seriously, we’re not in the school yard. It’s never been where my focus lies.

"To be honest, if I saw one of my players do it I’d be saying ‘Mate, seriously? Get the ball and play some football’. That doesn’t mean it’s not a strategy that can’t be used, but I just don’t care about it. Makes no impact on me."

Spurs have asked the referee's body - Professional Game Match Officials Limited - to provide clarification on the rules around obstructing the goalkeeper after another game in which Vicario was targeted this season.

"You're allowed to reach out to them. They’re not a hidden society. I’m sure all the clubs do. We seek clarification in case certain things have changed," said Postecoglou. "You never know. We just wanted some clarity on what the actual position is on interference on the goalkeeper.

"I’m ancient, mate, but I always thought that the goalkeeper was a bit of a protected species. Maybe that’s shifted now and I missed the memo."

When asked whether he or the club had received any clarity from the PGMOL, the Spurs boss simply said: "No, not really."

The two goals from those situations made it 14 now conceded from set pieces in the Premier League this season - giving Spurs the sixth-worst record in the division - and Postecoglou was asked whether he was bothered by that growing tally.

"Not in the least. I get it. It’s not an answer [people want]. To quote Billy Joel 'you may be right, I may be crazy, but it's maybe a lunatic you're looking for'," he said.

"I’m just not interested in it. I never have been. Enough of you [journalists] have done enough research on me to know this is not the first time I’ve been questioned about set-pieces in my coaching career. There is an underlying reason for that which I'm very, very comfortable with."

When asked what that reason is, he replied cryptically: "No. Do a bit of work, mate. Come on."

On whether the number of set piece goals will improve, the Australian would only say: "Eventually I will create a team that has success and it won't be because of working on set-pieces."

Spurs take on Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea on Thursday evening with a trip to Stamford Bridge. The last time the two teams met in November at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium it ended up being a pivotal game for Tottenham after an unbeaten start to the season for Postecoglou as he lost James Maddison and Micky van de Ven to long-term injuries, Cristian Romero to a three-game suspension and Destiny Udogie to a one-match ban.

Reflecting on what has happened since that night, the Spurs boss said: "There are things that’ve happened, you’re always assessing how to continue the progress with what we’re dealing with but a lot of it isn’t mapped out. You just don’t know," he said.

"We started the season with a clear idea of the squad we were going to have but were still doing business in the last week of the transfer window, and the challenges since in terms of injuries, a couple of season-ending ones, and absences and disruption to our fixturing means you’re looking at how to overcome the fact we haven’t had a regular run of games.

"How do I really assess what I have at the moment? Some of them are not playing as much as I would have wanted so I can see where we’re at. They’re the kind of things you try to fill the gaps that exist.

"For me there’s three pillars to building success. One is the environment which we’re on the way to doing but I have some further development there. Our football, again a work in progress but progress, and the squad. All those three things haven’t changed my mind about what I think we need to do, but there are certainly some gaps I would have liked to see more evidence from."

So will Spurs be more Ange Postecoglou than ever next season?

"I hope so, that’s the plan."

One player who Postecoglou will have to make a decision on after the season ends is winger Timo Werner. The German arrived on loan from RB Leipzig in the winter transfer window and has started most games for the Australian and contributed five direct goal involvements in 13 Premier League matches, not including an own goal or two he forced.

A hamstring injury suffered in the first half against Arsenal means the 28-year-old's season is now over with five games left and Postecoglou was asked when Spurs will make the decision over whether to sign Werner permanently with an option to do so for around £15million.

"Post-season, and the only reason for that is that it’s not about the here and now, it’s about the overall strategy," he said. "I’m talking about where I want us to be, next six months to be in a better place than today. Timo we signed until the end of the season on loan and he’s part of that strategy to see what we need to do in the summer and can we do it.

"Are there going to be other gaps and where does Timo fit in with that strategy? So we have a plan in place, and that was irrespective. I think he’s been very good for us. He came in at a really important time in January when Sonny was away, then Richy got an injury. We were short in wide areas. Him coming in was very helpful for us and I think he’s made an impact but in my mind to make those definitive decisions, I still need some clarity about what we've got here first."

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