In the before times, or at least the before times after Mauricio Pochettino, down 1-0 at home in the 80th minute, Spurs would’ve folded. But that’s not an option under Ange Postecoglou, whose introduction of Richarlison snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. Now, unbeaten in five games to start the season, Tottenham only trail Manchester City in the table after a stoppage time goal and an assist from the Brazilian as the game wound down.
This contribution couldn’t have come at a better time for Richarlison whoduring what has been a tough start to the season. But being involved in turning the tide in front of his home fans offers quite a lift ahead of a critical North London derby on Sunday, Sept. 24 in an away trip to Arsenal.
It would not have been a surprise to see this team struggle out of the gate under Postecoglou, especially after selling Harry Kane to Bayern Munich. Five games later Spurs have exceeded all expectations, which is down to the influence of Postecoglou. He has upped the tempo of the Spurs attack by playing through James Maddison and so far teams can’t adjust to it. Spurs are exceeding their expected goals of 9.58 with 13 goals in five matches, and part of what’s going on is that the side has taken 101 shots, the most in the Premier League, giving them ample opportunity to find themselves on the right side of variance.
Averaging 20 shots per game isn’t sustainable, last season Brighton led the Premier League with 16 shots per match, but it is quite a contrast to the team under Antonio Conte. Last season, Spurs were only averaging 13.6 shots per game with the vast majority going to Harry Kane. Now, not only has the attacking production risen but the team has also gotten unpredictable.
From Pape Sarr floating into dangerous spaces, to Dejan Kulusevski beating his man on the dribble and even the wing backs getting into the mix, Spurs have been able to score even when Son Heung-Min and Maddison aren’t at their best. The North London derby will be their biggest test of the young season to date, but it’s fair to expect Postecoglou to have the team prepared as they’ve met every challenge so far.
The shift from five managers in the past four years to a man with a plan in Postecoglou couldn’t be more clear even just from watching his press conferences from afar.
“Whatever Richy needs, we’ll help him get to the space he wants to. He was emotional after a game and that’s fine,” Postecoglou said about Richarlison prior to the match. “We’ll provide all the support he needs. I’m sure every player in the dressing room is dealing with something. There’s always something that isn’t where you want it to be. It’s about keeping perspective and balance. That’s part of life.”
It should be of little surprise that following that, Richarlison then put on his best performance in a Spurs shirt, because good man managers put their players in the best position to succeed. If Spurs can keep it up, they just may be able to skip the rebuild phase and fast forward to seeing themselves right back into Champions League.