Ange Postecoglou's surprise and what he'll do next after green-lighting Tottenham transfer plans

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Ange Postecoglou looks on
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images))

Post-season tours are set to become the norm for most clubs as they look to push an extra million or two or three into their bank accounts just before they have to be submitted for the various financial fair play reviews.

That they will become more common place will not dull the criticism of the cash-generating exercises, whether it be through the immediate short term financial gain from the match or the long-term gain from expanding the fanbase across the globe.

It was the last thing the Tottenham players needed as they flew off on their 24-hour flight straight after their 3-0 win at Sheffield United on the final day of the season. James Maddison admitted he woke up in the early hours of Wednesday morning, on the day of the game in Melbourne, and was left staring at the ceiling for hours as his body refused to adjust to the new time zone.

Even Ange Postecoglou only just managed to stifle a yawn at his pre-match press conference the night before the game, having touched down that same day on the long-haul flight, admitting the jet lag was "as you'd expect".

Amid the criticism back home of the trip, not to mention the environmental aspect, the one thing - away from the financial benefits - that showed another side to why it happened was the Australian fans.

On the night, 78,419 of them packed inside the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground and for just one evening it was their chance to see the stars that they only normally see in the early hours of the morning on their television sets.

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Melbourne is a sporting city. It's Olympic Boulevard houses multiple stadiums from the MCG to the Rod Laver Arena, to AAMI Park while Marvel Stadium is not too far down the road among others. There are sports clubs galore across the place and Ange Postecoglou is one of the city's favourite sons, for his journey as a child immigrant from Greece to the top of the game in the world famous Premier League has captured the imagination.

Football still remains below AFL - their football - as well as cricket in the food chain - yet on Wednesday throughout the city's streets, restaurants and coffee shops were Spurs and Newcastle shirts aplenty.

This was their chance to have their day and the question marks back in the UK about the trip meant precious little to them as they gathered around the remarkable bowl of the MCG to watch their teams coming together on the huge cricket pitch.

For Postecoglou it was life coming full circle as he returned to the city where he grew up in south Melbourne in the district of Prahran as a child and now he was leading his world famous team out inside its most famous stadium.

"It is [fitting]. I guess the last few years have kind of moved along it seems pretty rapidly to where I am today, but yeah it was nice today because it wasn't that long ago, in an alternate universe I would have been on the other side of the fence watching the game because that was my kind of existence for a very long time," he said.

"To be in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world, bringing them back to my home town in front of 80,000, it's pretty special and I feel pretty blessed to be in that position."

The game itself was mostly what you would expect from a group of jetlagged players taken to the other side of the world just hours after having competed in the intensity of the Premier League's final weekend. It was disjointed for long periods and lacking in intensity.

Most of that came from Newcastle though as to Tottenham's credit, they still mostly played the energetic football Postecoglou asks of them. They pressed high up the pitch and the scoreline should have been well in their favour before the game went to a penalty shoot-out that completely surprised their head coach, who had already shaken hands with his opposite number Eddie Howe, before the two men shared a chuckle.

For what it's worth from a post-game friendly, the stats show how much Spurs dominated the encounter with 63% of the possession and 18 shots to Newcastle's four, forcing Howe's men into making 12 clearances to their four. The key stat, as has perhaps been too often the case in the regular season, is that only three of Spurs' 18 efforts on goal were sent on target.

There's not too much you can take from the performances of the senior players. Son Heung-min put on a determined show for the many Korean fans that had made the trip to watch him in action.

James Maddison netted from a jinking run, albeit after looking like his interception of Nick Pope's pass bounced up on to his hand, while Radu Dragusin put in a solid stint to set him up nicely for the Euros with Romania after his recent game time and we got to see him alongside Micky van de Ven for a while.

Emerson Royal played for much of the match as he's had relatively little football and isn't going to the Copa America with Brazil. The full-back showcased all of his endeavour and energy, while also allowing Jacob Murphy to get past him to cross for Alexander Isak to eventually poke home after Brandon Austin has pushed the ball his way.

Dejan Kulusevski was busy and suited the central attacking role again while Brennan Johnson showed once more that while he has contributed plenty in his debut season at the club, his finishing needs to become more lethal as he passed up another big chance when toe-poking a great Son low ball straight at Pope from about four yards.

Bryan Gil's likely final touch in a Tottenham shirt before he departs this summer was his penalty that was saved and proved to be the only one missed in the shoot-out, handing Newcastle the victory which brought slightly sarcastic celebrations from a couple of their players, one of whom raced across the pitch.

Postecoglou was happy on the whole, even if that penalty shoot-out did catch him by surprise.

"I thought the first half was really good. It was a decent game. I thought we played really well actually. It was important because as I said to the lads before the game, it's 80,000 people here and it wasn't that long ago I was on the other side of the fence. I used to get hugely disappointed if I felt overseas clubs came here and went through the motions," he said.

"I felt in the first half it was a decent game and both teams were at it. I thought we played really well. Second half obviously we both made some changes. Some young boys got experience and the game sort of tailed off, which is kind of expected. Considering the boys literally 48 hours ago were playing on the other side of the world, and we lost in a surprise penalty shoot-out, so yeah disappointed."

On the first half he added: "I thought first half we worked really hard and our pressing was really good, which is has been all year. Our football was really good as well though and we had some passages where we got through Newcastle and created some good opportunities for ourselves.

"I just felt the lads were really, really disciplined and tried to the best of our ability to play our kind of football, rather than just play a game with no real purpose. A lot of the stuff I saw in the first half was the stuff we've been working on all year, which was really important.

"The game being so close is not ideal, but we made a commitment to come out here and once you make a commitment you've got to follow it through and treat it in the right manner. We're representing one of the biggest football clubs in the world and you make a positive impression tonight and our fanbase grows even further which is important.

"So I thought the players handled it really well and I'm really proud of them. They deserve a break now and that's what they'll get."

Tyrese Hall was in impressive form during Tottenham's post-season friendly against Newcastle United
Tyrese Hall was in impressive form during Tottenham's post-season friendly against Newcastle United -Credit:Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

A good experience for the youngsters

One important aspect of the tour was the experience the young Tottenham players will have picked up from their time away with the first team and also their minutes on the pitch in an iconic stadium, in front of almost 80,000 fans.

For many it would have been way beyond their previous experiences of football and for them the pressure to perform would have been present when it wasn't for the relaxed older professionals.

The young guns were all trying to catch the eye of Postecoglou with the aim of more first team training time with the first team when pre-season begins in July and perhaps more experience abroad with the trips to Japan and South Korea to come.

Many of them will need to recover quickly from the moment they land back in the UK on Thursday, for Sunday brings with it a big Premier League 2 Play-off Final against Sunderland at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The youngsters who took to the pitch in Melbourne were George Abbott, Alfie Devine, Ashley Phillips, Jamie Donley, Tyrese Hall, Yago Santiago, Dane Scarlett and first appearances for U21s midfielder Rio Kyerematen and U18s midfielder Leo Black with the first team.

They were all marshalled by Spurs academy product Oliver Skipp, an inspiration to them all after surpassing 100 appearances for the club this season.

The 23-year-old's future remains unknown, needing game time to develop next season after a campaign which brought only seven starts in the Premier but Tottenham may fear letting him go out on loan as he is one of their very few club-trained players for European football.

Skipp put in a trademark dogged performance, starting in midfield and ending the game as a centre-back, a role he used to play occasionally in his academy days as they looked to improve his understanding across the pitch.

He managed to pick up the only yellow card of the game, impressive for a friendly, but mostly he was a guiding figure for the youngsters who look up to him. He also buried his penalty in the shoot-out.

Of those young players, they all handled the stage well. Devine and Phillips are coming off a loan spell at Plymouth, the latter looking very assured, with one sliding interception in particular, after being named his loan club's young player of the season.

The versatile Abbott looked solid after a season in which the 18-year-old U21s captain earned a new three-year deal, having been handed his Premier League debut by Ryan Mason last year.

Donley was a creative threat, even with a slight knee issue that has dogged him recently, and his curling penalty in the shoot-out was the best of the bunch. Scarlett looks to have continued to bulk up and got himself into the positions to have three decent chances that should have brought at least one goal, although he did net in the shoot-out.

Santiago continued to show his pace and trickery, with many regular watchers of the academy surprised he hasn't had an opportunity with the first team with the absences down the wings in recent weeks. Santiago has been on the bench for Spurs in the Premier League and trained frequently with the first team, but whatever Postecoglou has seen has not convinced him yet to hand the 21-year-old Spaniard his competitive debut.

Kyerematen and Black looked at home in their late cameos but it was Tyrese Hall who took his chance to shine on the MCG stage during his 19 minutes.

There are high hopes for the 18-year-old midfield who was handed a long-term contract until 2029 this month and was then given a spot on the bench for the Premier League match against Manchester City last week.

Hall looks every inch a Premier League player in the making and his confidence on the ball was there for all to see in front of the near 80,000 crowd on Wednesday. His penalty in the shoot-out was entirely fitting with his performance, a ridiculously confident rolled effort that sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Brandon Austin and Alfie Whiteman were the old academy hands at the back. Austin made one good claim from a cross but will be annoyed with himself for palming Murphy's cross into Isak's path, while Whiteman came on late, leaving Guglielmo Vicario as the only player on the trip to get the night off.

The future is looking bright for Tottenham's youth with prolific striker Will Lankshear, named Premier League 2 Player of the Season this week, not included among the squad and exciting 16-year-old attacker Mikey Moore on duty with England at the European U17 Championships and scoring twice, including one wonderful solo effort, in their match against France, with Spurs team-mate Callum Olusesi coming off the bench.

One criticism levelled at Postecoglou this season is that while the young players have been placed on the bench to plug the gaps left by injuries galore in the first, they have rarely been used. Only Donley, who has had a remarkable season for the U21s, and more recently Moore have had a handful of minutes to their name.

Postecoglou will take another look at many of them in the summer, with another exciting 18-year-old midfielder in Lucas Bergvall set to join the group. The Europa League could prove to be the pathway for many to get their chance and prove that gems can lurk within the club's academy. Spurs' best player in recent memory is testament to that.

Tottenham's transfer plan is Postecoglou approved

Whether his demeanour changes come July, whatever Ange Postecoglou has been presented with as the Tottenham transfer plan for this summer appears to have hit the right spot for him.

The Australian has made no secret of his desire for Spurs to compete for the Premier League title next season and in order to get anywhere near that and make up a major chunk of the 25 points between the club and champions Manchester City will require bringing in plenty of round pegs for the round holes of the Postecoglou system.

Second seasons under the experienced head coach are often ones to remember, with, in most cases, three transfer windows to transform the squad into something that can really deliver the purest form of his football. has previously reported that Tottenham would among those clubs looking to get a number of deals done before the end of June, but in a better position than most and taking advantage of the need for many clubs to get cash through the door before the end of the financial period for the Premier League and UEFA's profit and sustainability rules, which are expected to be further tightened in the seasons ahead.

Postecoglou also wants players in early to get them through his full rigorous pre-season with his very different football to ensure they hit the ground running when the campaign begins. Last season Maddison and Vicario were bought before the club jetted off on their summer tour and the start to the season showed the benefits before injuries struck.

The Tottenham boss told that his aim is to get signings through the door early again this year.

"Yeah, look it is important. I think it works better Ali. Last year it certainly benefited us in having a couple of players in early to be with the whole squad," he said. "Again looking at the schedule this year with international commitments, we're not going to get them all back for the start of pre-season, but if we can get ones in early.

"It's easier said than done. Everyone wants to get business done early, everyone is keen to bring players in but the reality is that it takes a little bit of time.

"The good thing for us is that we know what we need to do, we've had the plan in place for a while and it's just about now going through that process."

That plan appears to be one that the Australian is very much in favour of and he will have worked with technical director Johan Lange and chief scout Rob Mackenzie to identify the list of perfect players for his system who can be prised away from their clubs.

When asked whether he also expects to keep all the Tottenham stars he wants to, he said: "Yeah. There's no indication [otherwise], but all those things are moving parts. You always understand that things can change really quickly but we've got a plan in place that I'm really comfortable with in terms of incomings and outgoings. Whether that all comes together you just never know but having clarity about what we need to do I think helps the process."

One consistent phrase Postecoglou has come out with during this season is that the attack is the area where he can see "the room for most growth". Postecoglou teams normally score goals galore.

This season they were only the Premier League's seventh top scorers with 74 goals, even if it was the most goals Tottenham have scored in a league season since notching the same tally in the 2017/18 campaign.

Postecoglou wants many more goals to be plundered though and a new free-scoring centre forward and a winger or two are being sought to add firepower to a squad that must contend with far more than the 41 games it played this season, with European football back on the agenda.

Lange and Mackenzie have been looking for Postecoglou system-fitting strikers across the continent since arriving at the club late last year with a number of high-scoring front men in various leagues watched and their data crunched to find the best fit.

Postecoglou admitted to that attacking players were right up there on the list of priorities for this summer transfer window.

"Yeah, absolutely. It's no secret. You saw the way we finished the season. We obviously lost Richy and Timo as well with injuries but we're fairly light in that area," he said. "We started last season with Manor [Solomon] and [Ivan] Perisic and we were quite healthy in that front third in terms of numbers, but as the year went on it became pretty evident that we need to bulk up.

"We're in Europe as well next year so we'll have more games and it's definitely an area of the park we'll need to strengthen."

Richarlison's future could go either way this summer. Postecoglou likes the Brazilian and he has fitted well into his system when fit, with 11 goals and four assists from 28 Premier League games this season. However, he has missed too many important periods of the season through injury and a big bid from the Saudi Pro League might prove difficult to ignore if the player is keen on the move.

The future of Timo Werner remains in the balance. Spurs have an option to make the German's loan move permanent for £14.5million with reports in Germany suggesting there is a June 14 deadline for the decision.

The 28-year-old had proved effective at times on the left for Postecoglou until suffering the hamstring problem that ended his campaign. The German is believed to be keen on remaining in the Premier League but he is also a high earner which might cause hesitancy at Tottenham for winger who could be competing for a role rather than a consistent starter next season if he were to stay.

Postecoglou admitted to that negotiations would take place between Spurs and RB Leipzig and that there was a deadline in place.

"I think from our perspective there's a deadline there. Again a lot of that will depend on the negotiations between the clubs and how Timo feels," he said. "Again from my perspective I'm comfortable with that situation and I'll let the other guys steer it to see what kind of outcome there is."

Postecoglou will want another central midfielder on top of the arrival of Lucas Bergvall, with a number six in particular being eyed as well as potential box-to-box players for the eight role, with Conor Gallagher a Postecoglou favourite. The anchorman role in the axis of the Postecoglou system is so crucial to its forward momentum and Yves Bissouma has proved to be inconsistent in his output.

The Australian coach has already admitted that he wants another centre-back this summer to add to Cristian Romero, Van de Ven and Dragusin, with one of the young defenders in Ashley Phillips or Alfie Dorrington, who recently underwent hamstring surgery, expected to provide back-up for the increased number of fixtures.

At least one full-back to provide more natural cover for Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie is on the cards, with Emerson Royal on the wanted list at a few clubs across Europe with interest also from the Saudi Pro League.

It will be the outgoings that could shape the extent of the incomings this summer, once the priorities are brought in, as Postecoglou's need for change has come at the perfect time, with a large number of players reaching the final year of their contract at the club.

Ryan Sessegnon has been informed that he can leave for free this summer as Spurs will not be taking up the extra year option on the currently injured 24-year-old's deal.

With contracts that end in 2025, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon, Tanguy Ndombele, Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga are all expected to depart, with Millwall looking to make the latter's loan move permanent and Leeds expected to try the same with Rodon, especially if they win the play-off final on Sunday.

The club and Ben Davies will have to decide on what comes next for the long-serving Welshman as his deal also ends in 2025. Postecoglou has leaned on the versatile 31-year-old a lot this season through injury problems but his suitability for the inverted full-back role is questionable and centre-back chances could decrease next season.

Son Heung-min and Troy Parrott both have contracts until 2025 but the club hold options to extend both deals. The Spurs captain's extension is a no-brainer, while the club could look to cash in on the young Irish striker this season after an excellent season with Eredivisie side Excelsior Rotterdam has caught the eye of clubs across the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. Holding an EU passport will also help his ability to move to such clubs.

A new destination will be sought for Bryan Gil, who is not part of Postecoglou's plans and has barely played again this season, with interest from Spain and the Netherlands among other leagues in the young winger.

Djed Spence is also not part of Postecoglou's thinking, while another loan move is likely to be found for Alejo Veliz as Spurs have to carefully manage their foreign player numbers with European football squad lists in particular to adhere to. Veliz's loan spell at Sevilla was a mistake that Spurs will not want to repeat if the young Argentine forward is to develop.

In the next couple of days Postecoglou will take a breath. He did not fly back with the team from Melbourne on Wednesday evening, instead remaining to catch up with some old friends, although he is unlikely to switch off from the work calls that will come.

"I've got the bus ride back to the hotel and that'll be it mate and then we get going," he said in Melbourne. "It never really stops. That's the reality of it. I'll have some time off. I'll meet up with the family at the weekend and then we'll go to Greece and switch off for a couple of weeks.

"It never stops with plenty to do. There's a lot of people working, doing the bulk of it. I've just got to be there to provide hopefully some direction."

He then joked when asked soon after about making early transfers.

"See I was asked how much time I'm going to get off and it's the next question. I've got to get players in tomorrow, they've got to be here," he said with a grin to the local reporters at the MCG.

Postecoglou will be in constant discussions with Lange, chairman Daniel Levy and no doubt his long-time friend and agent Frank Trimboli, who is one of the heads of the powerful CAA Base agency that has fingers in plenty of pies at Tottenham and across the global game, as well as being close to Levy.

Away from Spurs and the large number of players they have on the club's books, Base represent the likes of Eberechi Eze, Trevoh Chalobah, Samuel Iling-Junior and Roony Bardghji, who have all been among the many names linked with Tottenham. Base often also work as intermediaries on deals for Tottenham with other agencies.

James Maddison, also a Base client, has high hopes for what will come next under Postecoglou.

"Yeah he's quite popular isn't he?" he said after hearing the 80,000 fans at the MCG roar for the Spurs boss. "Ange is a good man. He's a great character. I love working for him and to see him in his country with the support he gets here was nice to see," he said.

"The first season of any new project is always challenging. It has its ups and downs. I'm really enjoying working for him, genuinely, and I think we can achieve big things hopefully. So the first year of many I hope."

Postecoglou will take a couple of days to meet some old friends and he will rest up this summer in Greece with his family around his ITV punditry duties at the Euros, but his mind will rarely stray too far from what he is building at Tottenham Hotspur.

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