Ange Postecoglou defends Son Heung-min over Asian Cup incident

By Sports Desk February 16, 2024

Ange Postecoglou has leapt to the defence of Tottenham captain Son Heung-min over an incident during South Korea’s recent Asian Cup campaign that left the attacker with a dislocated finger.

Son’s nation exited the tournament in the semi-final stage after a 2-0 loss to Jordan, which resulted in Jurgen Klinsmann being sacked on Friday.

A report this week revealed Son dislocated his finger the day before the last-four clash after the Spurs skipper was involved in an altercation with younger members of the South Korea squad, who had allegedly left a team dinner early to play ping-pong.

Son returned to club duty last Saturday with a key role off the bench in a 2-1 victory over Brighton, where his right fingers were taped up and Postecoglou talked up his leadership.

“From what I know of the incident, and I haven’t asked too much about it, it was Sonny being Sonny. Being a leader and when you’re a leader, sometimes you get in the firing line,” Postecoglou said.

“That’s what leadership is all about. Leadership is not about being popular and trying to make everybody happy, it’s about when you see something that you don’t feel is right then you stand up for it because it’s the best thing for the group. I see that in Sonny.

“Sometimes people are mistaken about Sonny because he’s such a positive guy, who whenever you see him is smiling and everyone has a real affection for him, but he wants to win.

“He doesn’t like standards slipping and I’ve seen him do that around here. If something is not right, he will say it.

“Sometimes it is not the popular thing to do. Sometimes that puts you in the firing line with the playing group and with coaches or the club, but as a leader if you think this is the right thing to do, then you should go strongly on it.

“Sonny by nature is a nice guy. He is very polite and very respectful but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a real winner and a guy who has high standards.

“There is a real discipline you need to last this long, especially in the Premier League, and that drive to have high standards transfers to leadership. The best (leaders) are the ones who are themselves because people respect that. When you try and be somebody else people see through that.”

Son will aim to keep Spurs out in front in the race for Champions League qualification at home to Wolves and should be back in the starting XI after his cameo against Brighton.

Postecoglou has lost full-backs Pedro Porro (muscle) and Destiny Udogie (knee) to minor injuries but has boosted options in midfield and attack.

Yves Bissouma, who started Tottenham’s first eight league fixtures, is primed to make his first club start since December 15 after missing the past two months through suspension and international commitments.

Postecoglou added: “It’s fair to say with Biss, he’s probably a little bit frustrated with the way the season has gone.

“Really early on I could see the way we played really suited him. He really thrived in that responsibility in that role.

“Look, he’s ready to go. He’s had a good week of training. Looking forward with him, Rodri (Bentancur), Madders (James Maddison) is now back, Lo Celso is now available, Skippy and Pierre (Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg).

“We’re looking really strong through there. Not just to start games; the ability for us to change games. I think that’s going to be a really big part of us having a strong finish to the season.”

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