Ange Postecoglou's pre-meditated rant was about something more significant than some Spurs fans wanting his team to lose, writes IAN LADYMAN… one day we may find out exactly why he did it

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So a Tottenham manager heads in to a summer recess muttering darkly about things he wants the world to know about but doesn’t wish to expand upon. Sound familiar?

Mauricio Pochettino went there after losing a Champions League final in 2019. Antonio Conte did it three years later. Now it’s Ange Postecoglou with the beef and as Spurs fans woke up this morning it won’t just have been the bells on their alarm clocks that were ringing.

With Pochettino and Conte it was about money. At Tottenham it’s so often been about money. This may be part of what’s eating Postecoglou deep down too. That part is yet to be fully understood.

But what we do know is that Postecoglou’s demeanour during and after Tuesday night’s defeat to Manchester City was that of a man irked about something more significant than a handful of supporters who had suggested his team may wish to lose on purpose to prevent Arsenal winning the Premier League.

No, this was about more than that. It had to be about more than that.

Ange Postecoglou was left seething after Tottenham were beaten by Manchester City on Tuesday and took aim at his own supporters

Ange Postecoglou was left seething after Tottenham were beaten by Manchester City on Tuesday and took aim at his own supporters

Ange Postecoglou's Tottenham has been guts and glory this season, and while progress has been made under the Australian, the club will be desperate for silverware next season 

Tottenham's defeat to Man City meant they missed out on Champions League football

Tottenham's defeat to Man City meant they missed out on Champions League football

The Australian confronted one Tottenham supporter in the stands during the match

The Australian confronted one Tottenham supporter in the stands during the match

An argument with a supporter during the game – with footage available on Mail Sport’s social media channels – was followed by a post-match press conference during which Postecoglou’s mood was not so much dark as run through with brooding menace.

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Man City won because they were always going to win, not because of the politics of envy or fear, writes OLIVER HOLT… Spurs fans can rest easy

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The question was something tame, a half volley about building for the future. The answer was clearly pre-meditated and laced with intent and with warning.

‘The last 48 hours have revealed that the foundations are fairly fragile,’ said Postecoglou.

‘It’s revealed a fair bit to me. We need to go back to the drawing board on certain things. Outside, inside. Everywhere. It’s been an interesting exercise.

‘It’s my observations. You can make your assessment. I probably misread the situation. But that’s OK. Maybe I’m out of step but I just don’t care, I want to win.

‘What other people, how they want to feel and what their priorities are, has zero interest to me. I just want to build a winning team. I already knew what I wanted to do but I need to make adjustments on to how I do it.’

Pressed on the matter, Postecoglou wouldn’t expand. It was a tactic straight from any old managers’ playbook. We’ve seen it before from so many. Toss something out there that’s too hot to be ignored but also so ambiguous that any interpretation of it can subsequently be denied.

What will worry Tottenham fans more than the content and the meaning, however, will be the tone, the mood and the intent. They have, after all, travelled this path before and generally on that side of the Seven Sisters Road it doesn’t tend to end well.

For what it’s worth, if Postecoglou really was irked about the suggestion that some Spurs fans didn’t care much about the result of this game then it would be a little odd. Much of that chat had come from Tottenham supporters on social channels and from those happy to stand in front of a Sky camera outside the stadium and say something daft.

If Postecoglou seriously believes people inside the club were unsure about what they wanted from the game then he does indeed have a problem. There was, it must be said, no sign of a questionable attitude from his players. Arguably, only City’s replacement goalkeeper Stefan Ortega stood between Spurs and a draw. Postecoglou’s team, as it happened, played pretty well.

Those who have worked with and been around the Australian during his time in Scotland, Japan and Australia say this is all a familiar and classic Postecoglou tactic. The irritable uncle act is, they say, merely a way of making sure players, staff and indeed board members don’t rest easy, don’t fall in to the trap of feeling that a job is done.

If so, he’s been at it for a while in north London. The 58-year-old began the season winning games, winning manager of the month awards and having songs reordered in his honour by Robbie Williams. But he has finished it losing games – five of the last six – and greeting every post-match inquisitor with the countenance of a bear who has just found someone else sitting by his favourite tree.

Top four? Not for me, mate. Set piece problems? I’m not overly concerned, mate. And so on.

Against all of that has to be placed the life Postecoglou has breathed in to a football club left lame and almost bed-ridden by the moribund nature of Conte’s football. The former Celtic manager has been a huge force for good at Tottenham and indeed in the Premier League. They should finish fifth this season. They were eighth last time. In terms of the football it’s been like a sun coming out from behind a cloud.

Son Heung-min missed a late chance which could have given Arsenal the advantage in the title race

Son Heung-min missed a late chance which could have given Arsenal the advantage in the title race

Tottenham will have a big summer as they look to kick on from the progress they have made

Tottenham will have a big summer as they look to kick on from the progress they have made

But now the work begins. Postecoglou will need to talk to chairman Daniel Levy about money for players. They are never easy conversations. The lack of Champions League football will impact that. Spurs want a centre forward and a wide player at the very least. West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen has been mentioned.

Beyond that, Tottenham will need to start next season well and Postecoglou will know this. If they take recent poor form into next season then their manager, likeable as he is, will find himself under some very real pressure.

On Tuesday night Tottenham gave City a proper game. Talk of them not wishing to win was, as we suspected, nonsense. They were decent but not quite decent enough. A pretty good summary of their season, perhaps. But as it turned out, the most insightful activity took place after the game had finished. Postecoglou knew what he was doing last night. One day we may find out exactly why he did it.

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