It was a big week for Richarlison. What started with tears on the sideline in a match between Brazil and Bolivia and an admission that he’s struggling with his mental health ended with Richy thumping in a headed goal off of an Ivan Perisic corner in one of Tottenham’s most dramatic comeback wins.
Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Richarlison certainly added his share of the good vibes that are permeating Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. His head coach was also pleased for him — Ange Postecoglou was quick to praise Richy’s performance in the post-match press conference after Spurs’ 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Sheffield United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
“Yeah Richy was great. I thought all the subs who came on really helped. But that’s been a consistent theme. And yeah for Richy I think it’s the point I was trying to make yesterday - for him to understand that you try and maintain a balance in life. And his football hasn’t been that bad, he’s still been contributing for us.
“Sometimes when you struggle with certain parts of your life you let it go into other areas. But the football is one area where he can control, and he works hard everyday in training and really got his rewards today. And hopefully that gives him a bit more of a settled feel to deal with the other areas in his life. For everyone, it’s about not letting it overwhelm you. And hopefully a day like today helps him.”
Richarlison is a popular player in the dressing room and it was immediately notable how happy the rest of Spurs’ players were for him. The entire Spurs bench exploded after his equalizing goal, and after the match, club captain Son Heung-Min physically pushed Richy towards the celebrating home fans so they could properly celebrate him.
All of that excitement was player-driven, according to Postecoglou. When asked whether he spoke to Richy after his return from Brazil duty, Big Ange said no— that’s not his role. His role is to create an environment where his players can feel comfortable and safe in their football, and to get help from other more qualified people when they need it.
“No I didn’t speak to him. That’s not my area of expertise, not just for Richy but for all the boys. If they have issues we have people who are much better equipped to handle those kind of things. For me, I try to provide an environment for the players where they can feel comfortable to come into that space. I didn’t want to overwhelm Richy by asking him a million questions or offering advice for stuff I don’t really know and probably shouldn’t because that’s for him to work out with people better equipped than me.
“My role is to provide an environment here at the football club that allows them to feel secure in this part of their life. So I didn’t really have anything to say to him. I’m sure it’s a group of players and they’ve been around him, and you saw at the end how happy they were for him.”
The game’s match winner came from Dejan Kulusevski, and in comments made on SpursPLAY, Deki was quick to offer his support to Richarlison as well.
“Richy is a top player. I’ve always said it, I always love playing with him. He’s an unbelievable player, we’ve just got to feed him the balls because with his head he’s always to score like that. We’ve got to help him a lot off the pitch and on the pitch. He’s a great guy, he’s so funny and he helps our team so much.
“We speak a lot, we joke a lot, because he’s a funny guy and we always have fun. We’re always there for him, for everybody. It’s tough sometimes being a football player. People don’t always understand that from outside. That’s why we football players have to keep in touch and stay in touch, stay together and help him.”
Postecoglou is known for quickly getting fanbases on his side — he’s done that everywhere he’s gone, from Celtic to Japan to Australia. Ange noted the importance of the home crowd in Saturday’s win, and how the improved atmosphere was a big factor in Spurs completing the comeback.
“Yeah, it’s crucial. I think you’re right, the fans played their part today. It was a real frustrating game, in terms of there was a lot of stoppages and dead time. Sometimes we didn’t deal with it well, talking to referee in unnecessary moments instead of getting on with the game. It would have been easy for our supporters to get frustrated but I do think our supporters are seeing in this team, even when things weren’t going to script today and we were 1-0 down, they can see the team trying to play the kind of football they want to see and I think that helps. They can resonate with that. That’s what they want to see in their team. They want to see aggression when we have the ball and aggression when we don’t have the ball. I think they’ve bought into that because they can see that’s what the players are trying to do. In this early phase it’s crucial because that hopefully fast tracks our development as a football club because there’s no doubt that the players got energy from the supporters today. No doubt about it.”
In his club interview on SpursPLAY, Ange went even further, quickly shutting down suggestions that Spurs fans should temper their expectations, especially with two very tough games coming up — an away North London Derby next Sunday and Liverpool at home the following weekend.
“No, no, no, let them go, let them go and enjoy it. My role is not to burst people’s bubbles. Let them get excited, let them get ahead of themselves. That’s the beauty of being a supporter. They go through enough pain mate, you want to let them enjoy it.
“If they think we’re going to be world beaters then great, that’s up to us to match that expectation. Our supporters deserve to have some happiness and enjoy it any way they want to.”