Ange Postecoglou has revealed the “key driver” behind his move to Tottenham while also responding to high praise from Lionel Messi towards one of Spurs’ key defenders.
Speaking to talkSPORT in a wide-ranging interview, Postecoglou was asked about Messi’s claim that Argentina teammate Cristian Romero is the best defender in the world.
“For me, he is the best defender in the world right now. Amazing performance tonight, man of the match,” Messi told reporters after the 1-0 win over Ecuador last week.
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Postecoglou, who said Romero was one of three leaders at the team alongside James Maddison and Son Heung-min, was certainly not going to disagree with it.
“I don’t argue with Messi,” the Australian said.
“I tell you what, I wouldn’t like to play against him. Most of the boys don’t like to train against him. He’s a real competitor. I love that about him.
“Whether it’s training or a game, what you see is what you get with Romero.”
Tottenham’s vice-captain is certainly also a fan of Postecoglou, telling the Evening Standard late last month that he was totally bought into the new manager’s vision for the team.
“He’s a coach that works perfectly for Tottenham, he’s brought a lot of new hope,” Romero said.
“It might take a while, but I think what he’s doing is fantastic. He’s putting together a great group and creating a really good atmosphere.
“It’s only been two or three months, but all of the team are behind him. It’s always positive to have a coach who wants to assume responsibility, and the club needed this new energy.”
Tottenham currently sits in second place behind Manchester City after an undefeated start to the season, highlighted by a 5-2 thumping of Burnley before the first international break.
Tottenham’s 15-year wait for a trophy means there is already plenty of pressure on Postecoglou to deliver, although that doesn’t mean he will lose sight of his long-term vision for the “sake of winning”.
It is a point Postecoglou stressed when asked about the criticism he faced after Spurs fielded a weaker team for the Carabao Cup and were subsequently eliminated from contention.
“I’ve been at pains to say for my whole career that supporters should feel the way they feel. I’m not going to tell them to not be disappointed,” he said.
“I’m not in this job desperate to win something just to win something. I’m here because I want to create a club that has the opportunity to win things on a yearly basis.
“There’s a difference because us winning a Carabao Cup and finishing tenth is not what I think this club is about. That’s not dismissing the Carabao Cup. I want to win every game — trust me. I was disappointed on that night as well.
“But that’s not the end game for me. It’s not about just winning something for the sake of winning something. It’s about building something. That’s what’s always driven me my whole career.
“I want to build clubs that have sustainable success and supporters go into every season feeling good about their prospects and watching their team play football.”
The chance to do just that — and at one of the biggest football teams in the world that is yet to taste true success at the top level — is a “key driver” for Postecoglou.
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“I love a challenge,” he said.
“I’ve done that through my whole career. Every step along the way, I’ve usually moved on the back of success, wherever I’ve been. It’s because there’s a challenge out there that really stirs me.
“Firstly, you’ve got to get asked. That’s the first thing; you’re not always asked. Secondly, you look at what you’re going into. The fact that it is, for all intents and purposes, one of the biggest clubs in the world but hasn’t had success for a very long time was probably the key driver for me.
“When you go into a challenge like that you know that, should you be able to implement the things you want to and it goes well, you can make an impact and leave a mark on the club you’ve worked for. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“That was the biggest attraction for me — the fact that the club hasn’t had a lot of success, it was coming off the back of a particularly poor season even by its own standards. The opportunity there to create something.”
And Postecoglou is already doing just that, with Socceroos great Robbie Slater describing his connection with the fanbase as “amazing”.
“It’s the style of football,” Slater said on Fox Sports News.
“Look at what Son Heung-Min said after the game. It’s those expressions that are giving Tottenham fans a lot of hope and a lot of joy.
“Ange’s connection already with the supporters is amazing, the way he goes to the supporters, he makes the players go to the supporters.”