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The evolution of Tottenham’s playing style

By The Boy -

The evolution of Tottenham’s playing style
Spurs ended the 2023-24 season 5th on the Premier League table, which is a huge
improvement from the previous season when they finished 8th. And they did this by playing a
brand of football that was markedly different from what the fans had ever seen. How did they get
there, though?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the evolution of Tottenham Hotspur’s playing style.
For five years under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs played pretty direct football which was heavily
dependent on young and energetic players. The Argentinian gaffer consistently set up youth
players to succeed at Spurs, memorably giving a young Harry Kane a shot ahead of a more
experienced Roberto Saldado.

His direct, intense, and high-octane football produced great results for Spurs. He led them to the
League Cup final, a second-place finish in the Premier League, and the club’s first-ever Champions League final in 2019.

That final was obviously the peak, but after they fell to Liverpool in that game, it felt like burnout
set in, so with Spurs 14th on the table, Poch was sacked in November 2019.

Jose Mourinho was hired to replace him, and obviously, the style of football changed. Spurs
became more conservative. Mourinho set his team up to be defensively solid but he also gave
the attackers freedom to fly, and that was evidenced in the crazy outputs that the strike
partnership of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son produced.

And that style proved to be very effective. Mourinho was able to take the team from 14th to 6th
in just 6 months. The following season, still adopting that same style, Mourinho led Spurs to the
EFL Cup final, but he was shockingly sacked before the game.

Nuno Espirito Santos wasn’t there long enough to really change the club’s identity. But then
Antonio Conte came and he brought with him a style which felt like a combination of what Poch
and Mourinho played at the club. Conte emphasized defensive solidity like Mourinho, but he
also wanted his players to play high-octane attacking football like Poch.
But Conte wasn’t exactly satisfied with the way the club was run, he left the club by mutual
consent in March 2023.

Three months later, Ange Postecoglou was hired, and he did a complete overhaul. He came in
with a completely new style and new players to execute them as well.
“Angeball,” as his style is fondly called, is an exciting style of football which involves building out
from the back, dominating possession in the midfield, and creating loads of chances up front.

This style involves the defenders being very high up the pitch, and while it is great when it
works, it has also cost them a couple of times, famously in the London derbies against Chelsea
and Arsenal.

Postecoglou started out well with Spurs, winning the first 3 Premier League Manager of the
Month awards after his arrival, but there are still some flaws in his playing style, so he’ll have to
modify it a bit if he wants his Spurs team to compete for trophies in England.

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