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Ange: Cristian Romero “good to go” ahead of United match on Saturday

Tottenham’s newly-appointed vice-captain is back in the team to face United.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Playmaker/MB Media/Getty Images

It’s only Week 2 but Tottenham Hotspur are getting set to play one of their biggest competitors for top five when they host Manchester United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow in the late kickoff. It’s not only Tottenham’s first home match of the season but an early benchmark of Ange Postecoglou’s side — after earning a 2-2 away draw against Brentford, what can Big Ange’s tactics do against a much better team that is trying to improve on last season’s third place finish?

The biggest open question was the status of central defender Cuti Romero, who was an early substitute for Ange Postecoglou’s side amidst concerns of a concussion after scoring Spurs’ first goal against Brentford. In his pre-match press conference today, Ange Postecoglou tried to alleviate any concerns about Romero, saying that despite a clash of heads vs. and some worrying symptoms at the time, he’s good to start against United.

“Cristian is good to go. Obviously he’s been in the hands of the medical team going through all the protocols. He’s ticked all the boxes and felt fine all week. Aside from that, no change from last week.”

That suggests that we’ll likely see more than just 11 minutes of action with both Romero and new defensive partner Micky van de Ven on the pitch. It’s unclear whether, or how much, Postecoglou will rotate his squad for Saturday’s match — United are not set up to defend and counter in the same way as Brentford, though they do possess speedy attackers that can and will exploit any openings behind Spurs’ back line.

Van de Ven was also a topic of conversation after an impressive Spurs debut despite only having a few training sessions with the squad after his transfer from Wolfsburg was finalized. Postecoglou said that while he played well against Brentford, he will need to continue to show his quality and improve over time as he gets acclimated to his new teammates and to the Premier League.

“Look, we signed him because we believe he has got some great attributes, a great profile and some great potential but I wouldn’t go as far as to say one game justifies all those things. Micky knows he is here to challenge himself, for sure, he is here to improve and he is here to hopefully develop into the defender he wants to be and we believe he can be in the toughest possible environment. He only had one year in the Bundesliga and before that he was with Volendam, not one of the big Dutch clubs with respect to Volendam.

“So, he has made some enormous leaps and that was encouraging to me because it means this is another enormous leap that he will be able to handle, but he will be the first to say one game is not what he came here for. He is here to challenge himself and will be facing some of the world’s best strikers on a weekly basis and that will be his challenge but he is a willing learner. He came with that mindset and our role is to provide that environment now and that is our responsibility. We have taken the potential and now it is to give him the environment to turn that potential into what he can be.”

There’s still a fair amount of unrest among the Tottenham supporter base, especially around the recent and substantial increase in season ticket prices. A Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust-led protest against the ticket price increases is set to be held outside the stadium before the United match, and Postecoglou was asked about it and whether it has an impact on him as the leader of the first team, and how he feels that he’s already garnering respect from fans after a short time with the club.

“I think my role within that is as you said to make sure the stuff I am in control of, they respond to it in a positive way because ultimately it is their football club. To be fair it’s not an unusual space for me. I know people talk about the treble I won at Celtic but the beginnings at Celtic were very similar, there was a lot going on and off the pitch at the time and it’s only natural when football clubs have a disappointing period that there is going to be that environment with people unhappy, but my role within that is to hopefully get people to focus on what we’re all here for and that is the football club, the players, the team and having success.

There is no doubt that we will get there quick if we’re united on and off the field absolutely, but I have never and never will tell people how they should feel, how they should behave or the context of how to express their emotions. I think that is their right and they have earnt their right to do that. My role within that is to try produce a team that gets us united to what’s most important.

“[The fan support] means a lot but I’m not comfortable with it. You love what it means. For the most part it’s blind faith. I haven’t earned it yet. Hopefully when the day comes that we deliver something it will mean even more. I’m not dismissive of it and I’m very appreciative of it but it reminds me of the responsibility that I have to repay that faith.”

There are still two weeks to go in the transfer window, and while the buzz has all about outgoing players there’s still the possibility that new faces could join the club before the window closes. Ange was asked about the state of play in the transfer market and he admitted that the large size of the squad means Spurs have to get some out the door.

“The reality of it is we can’t just keep acquiring players. We’ve got too big a squad as it is. It affects the training, the players themselves because they all want to play and be involved. It’s not so much one has to happen for the other but our focus at the moment is trimming the squad down and seeing where that takes us in terms of reinforcements. We’re assessing that on a daily basis. There’s still two weeks to go in the window and I’m sure you’ll see some movement.

“[We’re] not necessarily [targeting a striker]. I know that’s the obvious place people look at because of recent outgoings but we’d been planning for that for a while. There’s still areas we can strengthen in all our lines: defensively, midfield, up front. Again that’s not just bringing players in for the sake of it. They have to fit the profile we’re looking at. We’ve purposefully gone a bit younger because we want to build a team here. It’s not about putting the finishing touches on something, we’re building something here. So that’s the mind of profiles we’re looking at.”

Tottenham kick off against Manchester United in the late match Saturday afternoon. The match begins at 12:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. BST at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.