Ange Postecoglou blames Spurs’ clear schedule for lack of momentum

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Richarlison;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Richarlison</a> will be out for three or four weeks after injuring a knee in Tottenham’s home defeat by Wolves.</span><span>Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters</span>

Ange Postecoglou feels his Tottenham team would benefit from playing more matches as he lamented the stop-start nature of their season and the difficulty in generating momentum.

Spurs played only seven times in January and February and their home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday is the first of four in March. Some of the reasons have been self-inflicted: they failed to qualify for Europe and suffered early exits in the domestic cups.

There have also been the realities of the schedule, taking in the winter break, which Postecoglou described as a “bit weird”, and the international windows plus the occasional quirk; Spurs’ fixture at Chelsea was postponed from Friday of last week because of the involvement of their rivals in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final which they lost to Liverpool.

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Injuries have been a constant disruption for Spurs, with Richarlison the latest player ruled out. The striker, who has nine goals in the past 12 matches, hurt a knee in the home loss to Wolves and will be out for three or four weeks, according to Postecoglou.

Spurs are in a fight with Aston Villa for fourth place – they are five points behind with a game in hand; the teams play at Villa Park next Sunday. It could be that fifth place is enough for Champions League qualification. Villa are still in the Europa Conference League – they play at Ajax in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday – and it has been suggested that Spurs’ clearer schedule could be an advantage. Postecoglou is not so sure.

“Definitely, yeah,” Postecoglou replied, when asked whether he wanted more games. “For a club like us who want to compete at the highest level, you need a strong squad and to have a strong squad you need consistent games and opportunities.

“At the moment, if we get an injury then we’re liable to throw somebody in who hasn’t played for four or five weeks. It’s not easy on that player. Whereas if you’ve got games there’s a natural rotation you need to make all the time and also gives you a bit of rhythm.

“I had the other extreme at Celtic [playing 60 games in 2021-22 and 53 last season]. I found that a lot easier to manage. If you ask me would I rather be in Europe? Absolutely, 1,000%. I’d rather be in Europe at this time playing games.”

Postecoglou said that the stop-start part of it might have been a factor in the number of injuries which have affected the squad. But he also accepted they were to do with the high-intensity approach he brings to training and matches. Postecoglou believes Spurs are “top of the league on most of the high-speed metrics” and it was the “one consistent area of our game that has got us to where we are … that’s helped us overcome the lack of quality in our play, at times”.

Postecoglou has tended to have more muscular injuries in his first seasons at clubs. “There’s no doubt that the change in the training regime has an impact,” he said. “It’s happened before to me when I’ve come into clubs that the first year there’s always a little bit of an uptick in injuries.

“A lot of the injuries are just the way we train and play. It’s players, sports science staff and the medical team understanding that and making adjustments. In my experience, I see that the players’ bodies adjust and they become more resilient to it. There’s also a science to it that helps us along in that way.”