Spurs managers old and new face off as Postecoglou awaits Pochettino's Chelsea
Thu, Nov 2, 2023
Soccer News (AP)
MANCHESTER, England (AP) - A lot has changed at Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino was shown the door four years ago this month.
The club is on its fourth different manager since then, for a start.
But by design or sheer luck, Spurs have stumbled across a coach in Ange Postecoglou who has re-energized the club in double quick time and brought the kind of feel-good factor that hasn't been present since Pochettino's departure.
The Australian's impact since being hired at the end of last season has defied expectations and Pochettino returns to Tottenham on Monday with his former club undefeated and at the top of the Premier League after 10 games.
Postecoglou is the first coach to win the Premier League manager of the month award in his first two months in England's top flight - a feat even Pep Guardiola did not manage. And he could make it a hat trick after being nominated again for October.
Even the most optimistic of Spurs fans could not have hoped for such an impressive start - particularly on the back of a chaotic period post-Pochettino.
Jose Mourinho sparked hope that his pragmatism could bring trophies to a club starved of success, but lasted less than two years.
Nuno Espirito Santo always felt like an underwhelming choice to succeed one of the most successful coaches in modern history and he was promptly fired barely three months into his first season.
Then came the combustible Antonio Conte. Like Mourinho, he was a proven winner. But, like Mourinho, he was also gone in under two years.
After the stability of Pochettino and the joy he spread around the club by leading an exciting team to the Champions League final in 2019, Tottenham was swept up in the turbulent cycle of trying to recapture his magic.
After a revolving door of managers saw the club fail to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2009 last season, fans demanded action.
Postecoglou was the man who under-pressure chairman Daniel Levy turned to. The straight-talking former Australia coach had just won a trophy treble with Celtic in Scotland, but turning Tottenham's fortunes around had already proved too much for more celebrated managers than him.
And he had to do it without record goal scorer Harry Kane, who was sold to Bayern Munich in the offseason.
Which only makes his achievements so far all the more impressive after winning eight and drawing two of the opening 10 league games, which have included clashes with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Next up is Pochettino's Chelsea in a game that will see Tottenham in the rare position of being the favorite against its fierce London rival.
Chelsea has dominated this matchup in recent years. Its loss to Tottenham in February was its first league defeat against Spurs since 2018.
But under Chelsea's new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the 2021 Champions League winners have undergone a period of major upheaval that saw it record its lowest points total in the Premier League era last season and fail to qualify for Europe. After spending more than $1 billion on new signings, Chelsea still looks set for another disappointing campaign, with qualification for the Champions League unlikely following a run of just three wins in its first 10 league games.
There have at least been some signs of improvement in recent weeks, with Pochettino guiding the team to the quarterfinals of the League Cup on Wednesday.
Monday is likely to be an emotional occasion for the Argentine and a potentially chastening one if Postecoglou's impressive start at Tottenham is extended with another win.
Erik ten Hag says he must take responsibility for Manchester United's ever-worsening form. A loss against Newcastle on Wednesday ended his team's title defense of the League Cup and delivered another blow to the under-pressure manager. United travels to Fulham on Saturday in desperate need of a win to take the heat off Ten Hag after eight losses in all competitions.
"I am a fighter and I am in that fight and I have to make sure that I share the responsibility with my players and that we stick together and fight together, and get better results," the Dutchman said.
NEWCASTLE VS. ARSENAL
The question facing Arsenal and Newcastle this season was whether they could go again after exceeding expectations last term. Arsenal led the way in the Premier League for most of the campaign until a late collapse cost the Londoners their first title since 2004. Newcastle, backed by Saudi money, secured qualification for the Champions League after a 20-year absence.
This year Arsenal is back in contention towards the top of the standings and has registered two standout wins against Manchester City in the Community Shield and the league to underline its title credentials.
Newcastle, meanwhile, is heading in the right direction after a difficult start and in midweek beat Manchester United in the League Cup to advance to the quarterfinals. A 4-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League was another highlight.
Arsenal travels to Newcastle on Saturday and a win could see it go top of the standings depending on Manchester City's result against Bournemouth.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer"