Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou issues defiant new riposte to Spurs set-piece critics

Tottenham: Ange Postecoglou issues defiant new riposte to Spurs set-piece critics

A defiant Ange Postecoglou has told his critics he will build a successful team at Tottenham and added: "And it won't be because of working on set-pieces!"

Defeats by Newcastle and Arsenal have increased scrutiny on Postecoglou's style of play and his side's defending at set-pieces ahead of Thursday's crunch derby against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Postecoglou has repeatedly insisted he is not concerned about Spurs' vulnerability at dead-ball situations after they twice conceded from corners in Sunday's 3-2 defeat by Arsenal - making it 14 goals shipped from set-pieces in the Premier League this season.

Repeating the point ahead of the trip across London, the Australian quoted the musician Billy Joel and suggested his previously successful teams had similarly struggled at set-pieces at first.

"[I'm] not in the least [concerned]. I get it. It’s not an answer [that people want]," Postecoglou said when asked again about set-pieces.

"To quote Billy Joel, you may be right, I may be crazy, but it’s maybe a lunatic you’re looking for.

"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.

"Eventually I will create a team that has success and it won’t be because of working on set-pieces."

Tottenham conceded two more goals from set-pieces against Arsenal (AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham conceded two more goals from set-pieces against Arsenal (AFP via Getty Images)

Spurs fell behind against Arsenal when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg headed Bukayo Saka's corner into his own net and Kai Havertz made it 3-0 before half-time, rising unmarked to meet Declan Rice's ball from the opposite side.

A video has since emerge of defender Ben White appearing to tamper with the gloves of Guglielmo Vicario before the opening goal as Arsenal became the latest side to target the Spurs goalkeeper.

Postecoglou described White's behaviour as "a strategy" but said he had no interest in such antics and would never encourage similar from his own players.

"It’s a strategy. I don’t take a lot of interest in that stuff, never have," Postecoglou said.

"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.

"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. 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 referees' body, the PGMOL, for clarity on what constitutes a foul on a goalkeeper but asked if they had received any, Postecoglou replied: "No, not really."

He added: "We seek clarification in case certain things have changed. 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."

Meanwhile, Postecoglou says Spurs will not make a decision on Timo Werner's future until after the end of the season after the German was ruled out for the rest of the campaign through injury.

Werner pulled up in the first half of the defeat by Arsenal, which will prove his last game for the club if Spurs decide against exercising an option to make his loan move from RB Leipzig permanent for around £15million in the summer.

"[We'll decide] post-season, and the only reason for that is that it’s not about the here and now, it’s about the overall strategy," Postecoglou said.

Who cares?

Ange Postecoglou on Ben White's north London derby antics

"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 [Heung-min Son] was away, then Richy [Richarlison] 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."