Tottenham Hotspur are currently in Perth, Australia where at the time of this article’s posting they are engaged in an open training session for Spurs fans in Oz. But prior, Ange Postecoglou gave a press conference, just his second in charge of the club, and in front of a friendly “home crowd.”
In that presser, given with Son Heung-Min sitting beside him, Postecoglou was naturally asked about Harry Kane and the conversation the two had after Harry’s return to training on Wednesday. Ange warned fans not to expect anything groundbreaking out of that initial conversation, but praised Kane’s professionalism.
“Question one, eh? I had a good chat with Harry. As I said before (in his first press conference), nothing earth-shattering or defining from I guess what people are seeking. Just a good chat. I introduced myself and we spoke mainly about the club and where he thinks it’s at and where he thinks we can improve things. (We’ve been) training ever since, it’s been good.
“It’s not a specific vision for one person, it’s about the group. Me and Harry were perfectly aligned in that, we want to see a successful team this year.
“For me it’s about really focusing on everybody and making sure we set the environment in the right way. The players have been brilliant so far, really receptive and open-minded about what we’re trying to do. Coaches have been brilliant in delivering that message. It’s been as positive as you can. It’s pre-season, you know. I think everyone thinks they have a great pre-season until the games start but so far it’s been good.”
But nobody’s pretending that there isn’t a transfer saga happening right now. And when asked, Ange did leave the door open slightly to the possibility that Kane might not be at the club when the transfer window closes in September.
“Again, I said the discussion wasn’t really about that. It was more about the collective and what we’re doing. Harry’s the same as all the other players, you know. It’s not something I ask when they walk through the door, ‘Have you got a ticket or not?’
“It’s just about as we go along, we’re working hard as a group. Some will be on for the whole journey and others won’t. But a lot of that gets decided along the way. It’s not something that I’m sitting down and demanding from people right from the outset.
“The reality is we have a bit less than a month before the season starts, the transfer window is still open for a while, so we’ll see how it all transpires.”
It was noted that Postecoglou brought a large squad of 31 players to Perth for Tottenham’s tour, including a number of players that are likely to be sold or loaned before the end of the window. Postecoglou was asked about ideally what size squad he wants in a season where Spurs will only be playing one match per week, and he admitted that Spurs need to slim down.
“Fair to say less than that [will be here in September]. I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone, the players included. My view has always been to treat everyone the same. Whether it’s short, medium or long term, they’re all part of our club so I don’t differentiate. We brought a group that are all healthy and fit and can play.
“Will they all be there at the start of the year? Unlikely, very unlikely. But that doesn’t mean I’ll treat them any differently now. That’s just the way I work. Obviously, the players will look for opportunities elsewhere if they think they’re not going to get them here. When that comes across my desk I’ll discuss it with the players and we’ll come to the decision that’s best for all of us.”
The only player who did not accompany the team to Perth and that wasn’t injured was club captain Hugo Lloris, whom the club said remained behind in order to “seek other opportunities in the transfer market.” That absence was noted, and Ange both spoke highly of him while also admitting that his time at the club has come to its natural end.
“Yeah I had a good chat with Hugo. He’s been an outstanding servant for this football club for quite a long time. Captain of the club, and has left an indelible mark on Tottenham Hotspur football club. I had a chat with him and he felt that he’s hoping for a move somewhere else so he can play and begin the next phase of his career. I had a good chat with and left it up to him whether he wanted to come along because I think he deserves that respect to garner the direction of his own future. Because of his standing.
“I’ve only had two or three chats with him but even in training I can see he’s not only an outstanding goalkeeper but an outstanding human being. From my perspective we had an open discussion and he just felt that with a move imminent it would be better for him that rather than bringing him halfway around the world he stays at the training ground and works there and prepares for his next opportunity.
“It doesn’t diminish what he’s contributed to the football club. It’s the hardest thing for a footballer that you can’t write your endings. It’s probably not the way he wanted to end his time at Tottenham with everything that he’s contributed, but at the same time I don’t think it needs to be anything other than a positive outcome in that he leaves as someone who’s made a mark at a very big football club, and I guess for all players that’s what they’re looking for.”
Ange has had success everywhere he’s managed, but this is the biggest challenge for him yet because it’s the very top levels of club football. He was asked whether transfers are different in Australia or Scotland compared to the higher fees and pressure in the Premier League market. Postecoglou said that the players and the price range may change, but the principles he uses for success are the same, and he’s found they transfer.
“It’s all kind of relative. I have said before that people are kind of, not dismissive, but they kind of think success at a lower level is something easier than a higher level. But you are always competing against comparable competition. So, every time I have moved it’s allowed me to work with a different type of player, a different level of player. It’s fair to say it’s the same here. But I have access to some fantastic footballers here at the club that I can work with and hopefully try and develop.
“We can bring in some quality players, the same as every other Premier League club. So from that perspective it’s just about, like I said, trying to do what I do in the best possible manner possible to make us competitive. In terms of the kind of players we bring in, for me it is still a big thing the kind of people they are more than the kind of player - because the world is full of fantastic footballers. It’s whether they fit into the game I want to play, and in terms of people whether they fit into the environment I want to create.”
Tottenham’s first friendly of the preseason is Tuesday against West Ham in Perth. The match kicks off at 6:00 p.m. local time, 6:00 a.m. ET, 11:00 a.m. UK. The match is streamed on SpursPLAY and televised on CBS Sports Network in the United States.