Postecoglou names Tottenham's three best trainers in his squad and reacts to Klopp replay talk


Ange Postecoglou believes that the efforts of those Tottenham players who are not in his starting XI sets the tone for those who are and has responded to Jurgen Klopp's suggestion of a replay of Spurs' game against his Liverpool side.

Spurs have come out of the blocks flying under Postecoglou and could go top of the Premier League table if they can beat Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Saturday. The Australian has created a strong tight-knit group within the club with new leaders and new faces in the starting line-up.

The Tottenham head coach made it clear that with the experienced likes of Hugo Lloris, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Eric Dier all watching on and only the Dane getting the odd minutes here and there, it is not down to him to keep players happy.

"I've never seen my role as keeping players happy. My role is to try to create an environment where they feel like they're valued, they contribute. The reality is 11 players will play and some players have had more game time than others," he said. "I mentioned it to the lads this week, if you see our training our best trainers are guys like Ben Davies, Skippy, Emerson Royal - unbelievable training, and these guys aren't playing.

"So that sets the standard for the whole group. If you're not training well, these guys are ready to step in. They're disappointed they're not playing, 100 per cent, as they should be. The way they train, I think I mentioned Fraser Forster a couple of weeks ago, the reason we've had a strong level of performance so far is because our training has been at such a high standard.

"They're the guys who can potentially affect your training. If they're not at it or if they're feeling sorry for themselves it affects the whole training group but that they've been the best players means the guys who are playing know they had better train well or 'these guys are ready to take my spot'.

"That doesn't mean they're happy. I wouldn't expect them to be happy but that's not my role. I don't go round taking surveys on how people feel every day. It's about setting the right environment where they feel valued, we work with them, we treat them all the same and when the opportunity arises they get the opportunity to contribute."

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On Dier, Postecoglou added: "I haven't had any chats with Eric. He's had a couple of disruptions, a couple of injuries and last week he wasn't well. He was in the squad but he wasn't well so we left him out. He's training and he's making himself available.

"With all these guys, if they feel the need to discuss their future I'm more than happy to do that but I'm not going to go out and seek it unless I see there's an issue. For me the issue is: are they training well? Are they contributing to what we're doing? If they're doing that I see no reason to have extra discussions with them."

One player who the club has gathered around this week is Destiny Udogie after the 20-year-old left-back was the victim of racist abuse on social media after Spurs' victory against Liverpool.

"He's OK, he’s good. We’ve got a good environment here where people have the support they need," said Postecoglou. "The players are well aware these days that there are avenues where you can deal with these things. There’s no need to deal with them on a personal level. You can alert the authorities and make sure the people who are doing these things get treated accordingly."

The VAR mistake from that match against Liverpool has provoked endless discussion over the game with Klopp having suggested that he felt a replay would be the fair response, only to step back from those comments later in the week.

When asked if he felt a replay was necessary Postecoglou believes that the incident while unfortunate was simply a mistake and you cannot rush to that replay outcome for every error made in a game of football.

"I think Jurgen's said that maybe that was taken a little bit out of context. My view is when you're talking about a replay, there’s got to be some sort of threshold and I don’t think a mistake is a threshold for that, irrespective of the consequences," said the Spurs boss. "If we stray into integrity or misappropriation of the law, then you maybe have a case to say ‘well, you know what, there’s something there’. But, ultimately, when you strip it all back it was a mistake, that’s what it was.

"It was a unique mistake, people have used 'an unprecedented mistake' and I agree with that, but it was still a mistake. So if your threshold for replays is mistakes by individuals, that’s 365 games a year, I reckon."

Postecoglou is not a huge fan of technology in football and he was asked whether he would make a case for getting rid of VAR from the game.

"I would in its current form. I just don't think that technology's ready for our game. I've got nothing, I've got absolutely zero against goal-line technology, that’s a no-brainer because that’s quite significant, but it works for our game," he said.

"I just think our game is unique and I know people say well let’s get referees explaining their decisions - oh my God. Seriously? Could you imagine sitting there listening to a referee explain every decision on the game. I’m going to the gridiron on Sunday, I love it, I love American football. It’s three-and-a-half hours mate. Do you want to sit through three-and-a-half hours of listening?

"I mean referees, the measure of who was a good referee was the ones you never noticed, and we’re trying to make them the stars of the show. We’re analysing in slow motion yellow cards. We as players and coaches, we’re the worst culprits for it because we talk about integrity and all these things, but watch a game of football tonight, any game, the first throw in I bet you both teams appeal for it. With one knowing it’s not theirs, and if you get it, you don’t go ‘oh, it wasn’t ours, it’s theirs. Give it to them’.

"It's just human beings, we’re trying to take advantage. There’s nothing wrong with that, we’re trying to work within the framework of what we’re given, but I just think with VAR at the moment, we think it’s going to eliminate…and the more we use it, I think the worse it’s going to get."

He added: "It was there for the clear and obvious error, it seems like everything now. Yellow cards, fouls, corners, everything’s getting scrutinised. It’s not our game, we’re not rugby, we don't have those stoppages. What I always loved about England was the frenetic pace of football.

"That’s what everybody said. Premier League, English First Division, that was the difference between some other leagues where you ‘oh, it’s so slow and ponderous, it drives you nuts. Not the English league, it’s bang, bang’. Why are we trying to take that out?

"Now, I think part of the consequence of last week was that none of us liked it when they were taking so long to make a decision and it sounded like last week they were rushing into a decision. That suggests to me that I don’t think the technology in its current form is suitable to our game, but I know I will be in a minority with that and my role within that is to accept that whatever my feelings are on it, ultimately, there’s still going to be an arbitrar of decisions and we have to abide by it when they come about."

So has VAR sucked all of the fun out of football?

"I don’t know about that, it’s still fun, but this is probably the only time I’m happy I’m 58 and not 38," said Postecoglou. "I don’t know what the game is going to look like in 20 years’ time and I'm not sure I would like it with the way it’s going.

“I've always loved the fact that our game has more flaws in it. The uniqueness of our game is the goal is so hard to get. We always focus around that. Usually goals came from either a combination of brilliance or some flaws by someone. A player, a manager, a referee, something happened and a goal came.

"We’re trying to sanitise all that by trying to make it into something that I just don’t think is our game. That’s not what I’ve loved about football. I’ve loved the imperfect nature of it.

"When you’re sitting there analysing every little decision - and it seems we’re going that way where people just want every decision to be right - then that will slow down the game invariably, there will be more interruptions and they’ll take away from what I love about the game, but that’s me personally, other people might see it differently."

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