Ange Postecoglou remained defiant and insisted Tottenham were on the path to being “a very good football team” despite a 2-1 home loss to Aston Villa consigning them to a third consecutive defeat.

Spurs were without 11 first-teamers but Postecoglou doubled down on his philosophy with a back four containing no centre-backs, several attacking players handed first league starts of the season and no recognised defensive midfielder in the starting line-up.

It initially paid off with Giovani Lo Celso firing Tottenham ahead in the 22nd-minute and while the hosts had 18 shots, three goals disallowed and hit the woodwork twice, Aston Villa punished their profligacy to move above them into the Premier League’s top four.

Postecoglou reflected: “It is just the situation we’re in at the moment, but we’ll get through it.

“It might take a little while, but we’ll get through it and as long as we show the same intent and play the football we did today, I’ve got no doubt when we come out the other side, we’ll be a very good football team.

“We had four full-backs out there so we didn’t really have the height, which we knew would be an issue for us today but you kind of take those calculated risks with the flipside of it being that some of our football was outstanding today.

“I mean some of the goals we could have scored would have ended up being showreels for us in the way we want to play our football, so for me the positives definitely outweigh the negative of the result.

“We’ve just got to make sure the players stay focused on what’s important right now and you need to win games of football to keep yourself in the mix to be in a strong position come the end of the year, but right now we’re still building a side.

“What’s more important is the way forward has to be with what the end goal is in mind and today was about trying to play the football we want to play.

“If we fell short, we fell short but I didn’t think we fell short today. I thought it was just fine margins for us and not getting the rewards.”

To add to Tottenham’s growing issues, Rodrigo Bentancur’s first start since February following a serious knee injury was cut short after he was on the receiving end of a poor first-half tackle by Matty Cash.

“It is his ankle, I think,” Postecoglou revealed. “It wasn’t a great tackle. I thought he started the game so well and I think it was the reason we got a real good foothold on the game.

“He’s such a creative player. It’s the last thing we needed. Another injury, so (I’m) disappointed to lose him, but we’re yet to see the extent of it.”

While Tottenham created chances aplenty, it was visiting Villa who clinched an eighth victory from their last 10 matches after Pau Torres’ header in first-half stoppage-time was backed up by Ollie Watkins’ low effort after 61 minutes.

It pressed home their case as a genuine contender for Champions League qualification but former Arsenal boss Unai Emery insisted there are seven teams ahead of them.

“That was an amazing match,” Emery added.

“I think both teams, different ways tactically but very hard, very tough. They create chances, we create chances and we were efficient and clinical.

“Really I enjoy it but I lost all my energy.

“Of course we can get confidence when we are winning matches like here at Tottenham, but still in my mind, it is 38 matches that we have to be consistent.

“We have to try to get each opportunity with three points and try to get a good position in the table. We are in (the top four) now, but we are not a contender.

“There are seven contenders more than us to be in the top seven, to be in the top four but while we are there, we are going to try to keep (there).”

Ollie Watkins hailed a “massive three points” after Aston Villa came from behind to win 2-1 at Tottenham.

Giovani Lo Celso put Spurs in front after 22 minutes, before Pau Torres headed an equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

England forward Watkins scored a second just after the hour which proved enough to take Villa above their hosts and into the top four.

“They are where they are in the league because of how they’re playing, so a massive three points,” Watkins told Sky Sports.

“It’s unbelievable, a great feeling and we are playing great football, but we’re not getting carried away.

“We’re not even at Christmas yet and we have some tough matches coming up, so we have to keep going.”

It was a third consecutive defeat for Spurs, whose profligacy in front of goal cost them as Villa went on to secure an eighth win from their last 10 matches.

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou told Sky Sports: “A tough outcome, but I couldn’t be happier with the way the boys played.

“I’m really proud of them. I thought we played some fantastic football and on another day we would have won comfortably. I can’t fault the effort they put into the game.

“There’s no frustration. We played well and as a manager that’s all you can ask for.

“Sometimes the outcomes don’t go the way you want, but as a manager I want the players committed to what we are trying to do and they were all totally committed.

“On another day we would have had a few goals but it was a combination of outstanding goalkeeping and woodwork.

“From my perspective all I can ask is what they gave. The players played an outstanding game of football and as a manager that’s all we can ask for.”

Ollie Watkins fired Aston Villa into the Premier League’s top four with the winner at Tottenham to inflict a third consecutive defeat on the hosts.

Unai Emery’s side came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory and leapfrog Spurs after a thrilling end-to-end contest, with Pau Torres scoring a first-half header and Watkins scoring a second after 61 minutes.

Giovani Lo Celso had drilled Tottenham in front after 22 minutes with Ange Postecoglou’s selection gamble paying dividends at this point, but the hosts’ profligacy in front of goal cost them and Villa secured an eighth win from their last 10 matches.

Hours before the match it was revealed former Spurs player and manager Terry Venables had died and a minute’s applause occurred before kick-off in his memory.

Postecoglou’s team selection could have been out of Venables’ playbook, with the Australian going even more attacking than usual despite 11 first-team players being out, with Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg dropped.

Rodrigo Bentancur, Lo Celso and Bryan Gil all earned first league starts of the season and it could have been 2-2 after five minutes.

First, Villa captain John McGinn’s cutback was too powerful for the unmarked Matty Cash during the opening 60 seconds, then, down the other end, Destiny Udogie was sent clear but he sliced over with his weaker right foot.

Dejan Kulusevski struck a post immediately after from Son Heung-min’s clever through ball and Brennan Johnson’s follow-up was blocked by Torres.

Torres then should have broken the deadlock but he directed his free header wide from McGinn’s free-kick.

The breathless start showed no sign of slowing with a Gil effort saved by Emi Martinez before Son hooked over, although the offside flag was subsequently raised.

Another chance went begging when Pedro Porro’s cutback for Son was intercepted, but Tottenham did finally open the scoring in the 22nd minute.

A Porro corner was cleared out to Lo Celso and his sweet half-volley from the edge of the area took a deflection to leave compatriot Martinez with no chance.

It was Lo Celso’s first Spurs goal in more than two years, but Villa initially produced the perfect response.

Straight from kick-off, Lucas Digne got away down the left and crossed for Watkins to head home.

Villa’s joy was cut short when a three-minute VAR check eventually ruled the England forward had been offside.

The end-to-end nature was abandoned not long after when Bentancur injured his ankle after a poor challenge by Cash.

While Son found the net before half-time it was disallowed for offside and Villa’s growing dominance turned into an equaliser in the 52nd minute of the half.

Douglas Luiz’s free-kick from the touchline picked out Torres and he made no mistake with his header this time to make it 1-1 at the break.

Emery celebrated enthusiastically with his backroom staff but also made a double substitution, with Youri Tielemans and Leon Bailey introduced for the second period.

Bailey almost made an instant impact when his curled effort slipped through Guglielmo Vicario’s grasp but hit a post.

The frantic nature of the contest had returned now, with Johnson inches away from Kulusevski’s cross before Son had another effort ruled out for offside.

Villa remained a threat and not long after McGinn’s long-range lob sailed harmlessly over, they made it 2-1.

Substitute Tielemans was at the heart of it with a quick one-two giving Watkins a sight at goal and the England forward arrowed the ball into the bottom corner with 61 minutes played.

Postecoglou’s side responded strongly, with Porro testing Martinez and Ben Davies heading over from the resulting corner.

Vicario did keep Tottenham in the game with a finger-tip stop to thwart Digne’s free-kick before Martinez was required again, but produced superb saves to deny Johnson and Hojbjerg’s long-range curler.

There was still time for Son to have another goal disallowed after Porro’s initial effort hit a post, but Postecoglou’s side failed to find a late leveller and suffered a third straight loss.

Former England, Barcelona and Tottenham manager Terry Venables has died at the age of 80.

As a player he made more than 500 appearances for Chelsea, Tottenham, QPR and Crystal Palace but made his real mark as a coach, also managing Palace and QPR.

“We are totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful husband and father who passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness,” read a family statement.

“We would ask that privacy be given at this incredibly sad time to allow us to mourn the loss of this lovely man who we were so lucky to have had in our lives.”

Terry Venables will forever be remembered as the manager who oversaw the summer when football came home.

The charismatic boss, who has died at the age of 80, enjoyed a colourful and controversial career, the undoubted highlight of which was leading England to within a penalty shoot-out of reaching the final of the European Championship on home soil in 1996.

That fixture was his last as the national team’s manager after he left the role to focus on his upcoming court cases, but by the end of the year he was, perhaps typically, combining a new role as Portsmouth chairman with another as Australia coach.

That ‘wheeler-dealer’ streak saw Venables court controversy for his dealings outside of football.

‘El Tel’, as he became known during his time in charge of Barcelona, also co-owned and managed Tottenham, and was the subject of allegations of improper business conduct, as well as claims he once paid Brian Clough a bung.

The one-time midfielder was born in Dagenham, Essex, on January 6, 1943, and was an only child.

Having shown promise as a footballer, he joined Chelsea as an apprentice in 1958 before signing professional terms two years later, and then winning a League Cup winner’s medal in 1965 following a 3-2 victory over Leicester.

He had earned his two England caps the previous year in fixtures against Belgium and Holland, having represented his country at schoolboy, youth, amateur and under-23 level.

It was his transfer to Tottenham in 1966 that led to his most successful period as a player, during which he won the following year’s FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over his former club.

He left Tottenham for QPR in 1969, moving on five years later to Crystal Palace.

His talents did not just lie on the pitch, though.

During his playing career, Venables co-wrote detective novels, which were later turned into the TV series Hazell about a wise-cracking cockney private eye. It ran for 22 episodes from 1978-79.

It proved a significantly bigger hit than one of his early business ideas – the ‘Thingummywig’, a hat with a built-in wig so women could go out without removing their curlers.

After one season as a player at Palace he retired and joined the coaching staff and, in 1976, he was promoted into the role that proved his most natural fit – manager.

Venables required only one year to lead Palace to promotion from the Third Division and just a further two to secure the Second Division title.

In October 1980 he resigned to take over at QPR, leading the second-tier side to the 1982 FA Cup final, which they lost to Tottenham in a replay. The following season he guided them to the Second Division title, while becoming both their major shareholder and managing director.

He led QPR to a fifth-placed finish and qualification for the UEFA Cup in the 1983-84 campaign, but in May 1984 he resigned to become manager of Barcelona.

He charmed the crowd present at his first match in charge by addressing them in Catalan and, more significantly, in his first season he led the club to their first Spanish league title in 11 years.

Venables signed Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes during his time at the Nou Camp, also selling Diego Maradona.

However, Barca only finished runners-up in the league during the following two seasons, also losing in the final of the 1986 European Cup as Romanian opponents Steaua Bucharest triumphed on penalties after a goalless draw.

His dismissal in September 1987 was followed by his appointment as Tottenham manager in October. He brought Paul Gascoigne to the club and linked up with Lineker again.

Venables led Spurs to 1991 FA Cup glory with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest in the final, although the match was overshadowed by Gascoigne’s cruciate ligament injury.

When Venables and Alan Sugar won the takeover battle for the club that June, he was also appointed chief executive, but his relationship with the then chairman gradually broke down.

In 1993 Sugar sacked him, and later that year the BBC’s Panorama programme alleged misdealings connected with Venables’ businesses, which he responded to by threatening libel action.

Despite any damage to his reputation, in January 1994 he was appointed England manager, and his first fixture in charge came two months later when they defeated Denmark 1-0 at Wembley.

That August, police also dropped their inquiry into allegations he paid Clough a £50,000 bung to arrange a player transfer.

In January 1996 Venables revealed he would resign as England manager after that year’s European Championship to focus on pending court cases, but the imminent conclusion to his reign could not take the gloss off what so nearly became such a glorious summer for the hosts.

With Arsenal’s Tony Adams as his captain at the heart of defence, Alan Shearer in form up front and a rejuvenated Gascoigne pulling the strings in midfield, they progressed to the knockout stages following a 4-1 thumping of Holland that still ranks as one of England’s finest performances.

Venables’ use of the ‘Christmas Tree’ formation was considered instrumental to their success, which also included a penalty shoot-out victory over Spain in the quarter-finals.

England produced another memorable display in the semi-final, only to lose on penalties to eventual winners Germany. Despite the cruel nature of the defeat and the fact it proved his final match as England manager, he later described that summer as the “best time of my life”.

That July, Venables made an unexpected return to the sport as Portsmouth’s director of football and by November he had been appointed Australia manager, also becoming Portsmouth chairman, having bought the club for £1.

In January 1998 he stepped down from his role of chairman and also agreed to a High Court order banning him from holding company directorships for seven years.

His return to Palace as manager that April was short-lived, but he was recruited again, this time by struggling Middlesbrough, in December 2000.

Having left after leading them to Premier League survival, in July 2002 he returned for one last job in club management, this time at financially-troubled Leeds.

The sale of key players including Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler and Jonathan Woodgate contributed to their plight and in March, as the threat of relegation loomed, he was sacked again.

Venables surprisingly returned to the England set-up as new manager Steve McClaren’s assistant in the summer of 2006. Failure to qualify for Euro 2008 saw them dismissed in November 2007.

Having speculated in clubs and property, his final business venture began in 2014 when he opened a boutique hotel and restaurant with wife Yvette in Penaguila, Spain.

Venables, who died on Saturday, is survived by his wife and daughters Tracey and Nancy.

Ange Postecoglou has promised Giovani Lo Celso there will be opportunities for him to turn around his Tottenham career over the coming weeks.

Spurs are without at least nine first-teamers for the visit of Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

Yves Bissouma (suspended) and James Maddison (ankle) will definitely miss out and the prolonged absence of the latter has resulted in calls for Lo Celso to be given a first league start for Spurs since 2021.

 

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Signed four years ago towards the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure, the Argentina international worked with current Villa boss Unai Emery at Villarreal last season, but could get the chance to haunt his old manager this weekend.

“I looked at Gio really well before I got here, both here at Tottenham and his spells at other clubs,” Postecoglou said.

“You can see he has certain qualities. He’s had a disruptive season for us. He’s had a few injuries, he hasn’t really had a clean run at it.

“He’s one of a number of players that has happened to, but you can see technically, he’s a very creative player, he works hard for the team.

“He’ll get an opportunity over the next few weeks to hopefully come in and make an impact.”

While Lo Celso has struggled to make his mark in England, the 27-year-old remains a key figure for his country and started Argentina’s 1-0 win in Brazil on Tuesday.

But Postecoglou admitted: “I don’t think his national-team form is a direct correlation to here. Just like anyone else’s.

“Gio will get an opportunity, particularly over the next few weeks because we are down on numbers and have a fair few games between now and the new year.

“If they’re here, they’ll get an opportunity. That’s all you can offer.”

Lo Celso was heavily linked with a move away in the summer, but Postecoglou made clear from the outset his desire to keep him at Spurs.

Barcelona remain interested in the midfielder and while Tottenham’s injury list makes departures unlikely in January, the Australian conceded now is his chance to cast an eye over the squad.

Postecoglou added: “From my perspective, this is the time when I am getting an opportunity to make all these assessments because if you lump it all into one and look at previous exposure here at the club, that’s not really relevant to me.

“It’s what I see from now on and how the players feel themselves about playing the football that I want and whether they see themselves fitting into that.

“It hasn’t happened by design but I am certainly going to get a good look at everyone.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou heaped praise on opposite number Emery for turning Villa into top-four contenders inside 12 months.

“I haven’t come across him, but I have been a great admirer of his coaching,” Postecoglou revealed.

“He came over here and the experience (with Arsenal) didn’t deter him in any way. He didn’t lose any belief in who he is as a manager.

“He has turned Villa around very, very quickly and you have got to remember what position they were in.

“I have looked at his teams and they have always been very well organised and structured, with a clear identity.

“And he has transferred that across three different countries. He is a quality manager.”

Ange Postecoglou insists he has too much on his plate to worry about an investigation by the Football Association into a potential breach of agent rules during a 2008 transfer which involves Tottenham.

The Times reported this week that an unlicensed agent may have been used during the negotiations of Jermain Defoe’s transfer from Spurs to Portsmouth in the winter transfer window of 2008.

The FA has confirmed to the PA news agency that they are looking at the case, which did go to an arbitration hearing at the time of Defoe’s move to Fratton Park in the 2007-08 campaign. PA has contacted Tottenham for comment.

No action was taken against any party involved in the transfer, but with Spurs dealing with a growing injury list ahead of Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa in the Premier League, any potential punishment is far from Postecoglou’s mind.

“In 2008? I think I was maybe coaching Brisbane Roar mate, so fair to say I wasn’t around then,” he said.

“And really, if you think that’s coming across my desk? People are keeping a fair bit away from me at the moment because of what’s really important and that is we’ve got a big game on Sunday.

“With the issues we’ve got around the team, that’s where my focus is.

“It’s not across my desk, mate. For me to give you an answer would mean me sitting down with whoever is doing the investigation, whoever has all the information here, you know how many hours?

“I don’t know if you’ve spent any hours doing that but I don’t have that time in my day to be assessing those kinds of issues.

“With those kinds of things, any of those issues, there are those responsible, maybe I’m the spokesman, but I’m the spokesman for the football club in terms of the football.

“I would hate it absolutely if you got a lawyer out here and he started talking about what sort of formation we should play at the weekend.

“I’ll keep my mouth shut with those things, not for any other reason, but I respect the space that other people are in and that I’m in.

“If you’ve got real questions about that, there are probably better people to ask than me.”

Meanwhile, an FA spokesperson told PA: “We are looking at the case, and as part of that we will be reviewing the arbitration panel award.”

Ange Postecoglou is excited to see Tottenham midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur close to his best again amid a growing injury crisis at the club.

Spurs host Aston Villa on Sunday with at least nine first-team players ruled out and Pape Sarr a doubt after he returned with a knock from international duty with Senegal.

A much-needed positive for the Australian is the return to fitness of Bentancur, who made his first competitive start in nine months in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Tuesday after a serious knee injury.

With first-choice midfielders James Maddison (ankle) and Yves Bissouma (suspended) definitely absent for the visit of Villa, Bentancur could be thrust into action.

“The back four is probably the major issue for us at the moment. We’re really low on depth there, but midfield as well. That’s just the period we’re going through,” Postecoglou reflected.

“The fact Rodrigo got an opportunity to start (for Uruguay) is good for us. It gives him that confidence that he’s able to get through a game.

“The beauty of him is he can play a couple of different areas. I think he can play as a six, he can play further forward as an eight and he’s even creative. I think he can score goals as well.

“We were kind of hoping with him, Madders, Pape, Biss and people like Pierre(-Emile Hojbjerg) we were well stocked in that midfield area for different kinds of combinations, but obviously that has been disrupted a bit.

“The key for Rodrigo is to get him back to that level physically and mentally where he feels really comfortable about playing at this level.

“I don’t think he is far off it from what I’ve seen and again certainly over the next few weeks he will get that opportunity.”

Bentancur was one of Tottenham’s best players last season and impressed in a box-to-box role before he sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in February.

Uruguay boss Marcelo Bielsa used him at the base of a midfield three on Tuesday, which is where Bissouma has played for Spurs so far this season.

With Bissouma suspended for the Villa match after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign at Wolves, Postecoglou hinted Bentancur could fill that void.

He said: “Yeah, potentially. Watching the (Bolivia) game and how he played, he did it really well so you know he can play there.

“I don’t think he is that far off from a physical perspective of being able to play his normal game, whether that is box-to-box, and part of it is getting belief in himself and his own body that he is capable of doing it.”

Spurs’ hopes of returning to winning ways have been hit by their lengthy injury list, but Postecoglou insisted: “Aston Villa will be a great test for us, but we’re at home.

“Apart from the Chelsea game, our home form has been really strong and we need to make sure we get back to that.”

Belgium international and former Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen has ruled out immediately starting a coaching career once he brings down the curtain on his illustrious playing career.

The 36-year-old, enjoying the challenge of rejuvenating Belgian giants Anderlecht after a disappointing campaign last year, now has his eyes firmly set on investment opportunities off the pitch.

Despite being coached by the likes of Roberto Martinez and Mauricio Pochettino, Vertonghen does not see the lure of being back on the grass when he calls time on his playing career in football.

"I have my A licence, I did it just to understand how coaches think and what kind of work they need to put in," he said to Stats Perform.

"So, when I'm sitting on this side of the room in a meeting, I understand where it comes from. It's important for me to understand people, how they think, what work they have to put in, how the data works, and the physical load.

"That's why I did it, to understand that side and for me, it's not an option – definitely not for the first couple of years – mainly because I am looking for the right balance in my life.

"I feel that the husband I want to be, the father that I want to be and the coach that I want to be, I can't see it will work because I see the work they put in.

"They arrive at seven, they go home after seven. I want to see my kids, as I said, my son has started playing football. I want to go to his training sessions. I want to go to his games. I want to take my daughter to dance class. I want to pick my other son up from school.

"And that life doesn't exist being a coach or being an assistant coach or a physical coach. And if you take a job like this, you can't disrespect the job. You have to put the hours in, and I can't do that at the moment."

Vertonghen joins other elite athletes to work with investment company APEX to invest in the sports, media and entertainment industry.

APEX boasts 15+ investments among an athlete community of over 100 from the world of F1, football, boxing and surfing.

Antonio Cacorino, APEX co-founder and chief executive, believes having Vertonghen on board, along with the other global sporting stars, reinforces that notion athletes are keen to make the most of their potential away from their respective fields.

CaCorino said: "Traditionally, the thought was, 'Let me only think about investing or being active in something different when I retire. Let me focus 1,000 per cent on sports'.

"Unless you are Cristiano Ronaldo or a few other athletes in the world, when you retire, you just become irrelevant. It's unfortunate but it's the reality.

"We work with guys like Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly. In football, Siem de Jong, Luuk de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Raphael Varane. Anthony Joshua is a big boxer, so just really building a very strong, diverse asset community.

"We created an amazing athlete community of athletes from all over the world who have this sort of entrepreneurial mindset and this like-minded approach to how they want to position themselves beyond pure athletes."

Vertonghen, an Athlete partner at APEX, reveals meeting the young and ambitious co-founders, along with a star-studded list of sports stars involved, gave him the confidence to get involved with the Lisbon-based company.

"When you invest in a company with other high-profile names, most of the time they're surrounded by the best possible people," added the defender, who is Belgium’s most-capped player with 153 appearances for the Red Devils.

“They invest in the best possible companies with great opportunities.

"It makes a bit less sense if I invest in software from any kind of thing. For me, it's a sport-minded company where I can have my input, where I can talk to anyone who I want, where I can get the information that I want."

However, Vertonghen has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet, nor is he ready to give up keeping clean sheets either.

After a difficult 2022-23 season, which saw Champions League regulars Anderlecht finish in a lowly 11th place, he takes satisfaction in what has been a positive start to the campaign.

He continued: "Last year was a very, very bad and disappointing season, but we had a very good transfer window, great signings.

“[The manager] brought some great young guys in, experienced players like Kasper Schmeichel, for example, just leaders and guys who just want to win, and that's what we needed. The atmosphere in the team is great.

“In Belgium, it works with a play-off system. If you get into the top six, you go for the Champions Playoffs, and that's our ambition, to be in that top six.

“And then whoever's in the top six can be champion. It's just important for all the teams who have the ambition to achieve the highest things, to be in the top six.”

Tottenham sacked manager Mauricio Pochettino on this day in 2019.

The sudden and unexpected decision came less than six months after the Argentinian had guided Spurs to the Champions League final.

Pochettino had been in charge for five-and-a-half years but paid the price for a poor start to the 2019-20 season.

He left Spurs 14th in the Premier League table after winning just three, and collecting only 14 points, from their opening 12 games of the campaign.

“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing,” said chairman Daniel Levy.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change. It is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste.”

Pochettino left Southampton to take over at Spurs in May 2014 and led them to the League Cup final in his first full season but lost to Chelsea.

They pushed Leicester for the title in 2016 but ultimately finished third. They were runners-up the following year and third again in 2018.

Their run to the Champions League final in 2019 included memorable wins over Manchester City and Ajax in the knockout stages but they were beaten by Liverpool in the showpiece in Madrid.

They also won only three of their final 12 Premier League matches of that season and it was the continuation of that form that eventually cost Pochettino.

His period in charge had also spanned Spurs’ move from their old White Hart Lane stadium to their new arena on the same site, with home games played at Wembley for 18 months.

Spurs wasted little time in replacing him, with his successor Jose Mourinho appointed the following day.

Pochettino returned to the game as Paris St Germain manager in January 2021, and after leaving the French club 18 months later he took charge at Chelsea this summer.

Tottenham got the "deal of the century" when they signed James Maddison from Leicester City in the summer.

That is the view of their former striker Bobby Zamora, who has been impressed by the start Ange Postecoglou has made as manager after joining from Celtic.

It was a dramatic transfer window for Spurs as they sold talismanic striker Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, with England international Maddison, goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, defender Micky van de Ven and winger Brennan Johnson among the players brought in.

England international Maddison has been ruled out until January with an ankle injury after making a stunning start for Spurs, scoring three goals and five assists in 11 Premier League matches after joining for around £40million.

His form has helped Tottenham fourth in the table, just two points behind leaders Manchester City, with Zamora – who played for the club in the 2003-04 season – liking what he sees.

"They are very impressive," Zamora said to Stats Perform, speaking on the Pro Am Padel Tour.

"The manager, I really like him as well. They have made a couple of good signings and when you see Maddison, he has certainly been on fire.

"I can't believe the price they paid for him and it's the deal of the century to be honest. 

"They're looking in a really good place and it'll be interesting to see if they can continue that form for the whole year or not."

After the international break, Spurs are back in action with a crunch home match against in-form Aston Villa on November 26.

Kane, meanwhile, has made a sensational start with Bayern. He has scored 17 goals in just 11 Bundesliga appearances, the highest total in Europe’s top five leagues, adding five assists as well.

He has scored another four goals in the Champions League too and Zamora understands the England captain's move given his desire to play at the highest level and desire to finally win some silverware.

Zamora added: "He has gone out there to win something, which I don't blame him for. 

"He spent a lot of time at Tottenham and has done fantastically well for them.

"If he wants a bit of silverware, I think he's moved there to Bayern and he's going to get some silverware.

"Plus [it helps] that he has not gone to any rival clubs in and around Spurs."

The Premier League has arguably never been more competitive than it is this season, with just three points separating the division’s top five teams.

Manchester City sit top of the table on 28 points, with Liverpool and Arsenal one behind on 27, Tottenham on 26 and Aston Villa on 25.

It is the first time in Premier League history that five teams have amassed 25 points or more in their first 12 matches.

However, the level of competition extends beyond the top few sides, as demonstrated by several of the weekend’s results including City’s thrilling 4-4 draw at Chelsea and Spurs’ injury-time loss at Wolves.

Just 12 matches into the 2023-24 campaign, it is already possible to create a continuous ‘victory loop’ from English top flight results.

A victory loop is made by arranging results so that Team 1 beats Team 2, Team 2 defeats Team 3, and so on until Team 20 beats Team 1.

Sheff Utd 2 Wolves 1 (Nov 4)
Wolves 2 Tottenham 1 (Nov 11)
Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1 (Sep 30)
Liverpool 3 West Ham 1 (Sep 24)
Brighton 1 West Ham 3 (Aug 26)
Brighton 3 Bournemouth 1 (Sep 24)
Bournemouth 2 Newcastle 0 (Nov 11)
Newcastle 1 Arsenal 0 (Nov 4)
Arsenal 1 Man City 0 (Oct 8)
Man City 2 Nottingham Forest 0 (Sep 23)
Nottingham Forest 2 Aston Villa 0 (Nov 5)
Aston Villa 3 Crystal Palace 1 (Sep 16)
Man Utd 0 Crystal Palace 1 (Sep 30)
Burnley 0 Man Utd 1 (Sep 23)
Luton 1 Burnley 2 (Oct 3)
Everton 1 Luton 2 (Sep 30)
Brentford 1 Everton 3 (Sep 23)
Chelsea 0 Brentford 2 (Oct 28)
Fulham 0 Chelsea 2 (Oct 2)
Fulham 3 Sheff Utd 1 (Oct 7)

Andre Villas-Boas has spoken of the challenge faced by managers due to the increased use of data analysis, recalling it led to “massive, massive arguments” over the potential signing of Joao Moutinho when he was Tottenham head coach.

The Portuguese wanted to sign compatriot Moutinho from Porto in the summer of 2012, but the midfielder was only sixth on the list compiled using data and statistical analysis by then sporting director Franco Baldini.

Spurs pushed ahead with other targets, including Mousa Dembele, and only returned for Moutinho at the end of the summer transfer window, missing out on his signature by a minute.

With more and more clubs using data and artificial intelligence to identify targets, Villas-Boas knows the conundrum that managers will now begin to face.

“The most evident case I had when I was at Tottenham and I wanted to sign Joao Moutinho and he was sitting sixth on the list compiled by data people,” he said at Web Summit in Lisbon.

“The first on the list was Dembele, we ended up signing him and we almost ended up signing Moutinho as well, but we lost it against the clock on the last day of the transfer window.

“But it drained me emotionally to the point where, here was a guy that the data was not showing all that he represented from the coach’s perspective, which is a player that knows your leadership, a player that knows your style, adaptability to your style.

 

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“This can be quantified, but it must be done in the view of a coach and not a single view.

“This was the problem in the beginning and we mad massive, massive arguments in the beginning because of this with Moutinho.

“We signed Dembele but missed out on Moutinho and it was unfortunate because we were going to build up a very strong midfield.

“This is precisely where you have to have that balance to understand, what is your coaching philosophy and how it should be integrated into the data that has been provided to you.”

Villas-Boas has not been in work since leaving Marseille in 2021 and has forged a career as a rally driver while also spending time with his family.

The 46-year-old says he expects to remain out of the game until next year, when he could run for election as Porto’s president.

“Now is not the right moment to talk about going back,” he told the PA news agency. “At this time I am dedicating my time to my family.

“I have managed to find a break where I can dedicate myself to them 100 per cent and this is likely to be until June 2024. They deserve my presence.

“I have this objective of serving FC Porto as a president and at the moment it is going to go up for election in April or June 2024, so I always have the idea the present myself.”

Eric Dier believes it is still possible for Tottenham to win the Premier League this season.

Spurs made a great start to life under Ange Postecoglou, going unbeaten in their opening 10 games and topping the table.

But the wheels have come off in the last two games as they were beaten 4-1 by Chelsea with nine men and then lost 2-1 at Wolves in a game where they were leading going into stoppage time.

 

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Dier, who found himself out of the team at the start of the season, says Spurs can still be in the mix along with Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

 

“We’re still at the start of the season, there is still a long way to go,” he said at Web Summit in Lisbon.

“I am experienced enough to know anything is possible.”

Dier’s own future remains in doubt as he is out of contract in the summer and he will be able to talk to foreign clubs at the end of next month.

While the 29-year-old, who grew up in Portugal and played for Sporting Lisbon, is insistent he would like to return to his childhood home once he has retired, he could not promise he will play for Sporting again.

“One day I am sure I will be back. I think it is inevitable, if my wife wants to, we’ll come back one day to live when I have finished my career,” he added.

“To come back and play here, you never know, I can’t say.

“Sporting is my club, it will always be my club, it’s where I spent 12 years. Portugal as well for me is my home.

“I’m 29 so I hope I have a lot of years left to play. I’m still young. Football is my priority.”

Ange Postecoglou insists Tottenham must accept the pain of defeat after Wolves’ stunning late show.

Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina scored in stoppage time to cap an astonishing finish, seal a 2-1 win and deny Spurs top spot in the Premier League.

Brennan Johnson’s first Tottenham goal had given them an early lead and they were set to move two points clear at the summit despite riding their luck for much of the game.

But, instead, Spurs have suffered successive defeats following Monday’s 4-1 loss to Chelsea.

Postecoglou said: “It’s part of the pain of football when things happen in those circumstances. You’ve just got to take it. I can’t fault the players’ effort or their commitment. It was always going to be a tough game.

“We started well but we could have been a little bit more positive and aggressive with the ball. I’ve got to temper that with the fact we have had so many changes and we’re not going to get the same, especially when three of your back four are almost starting for the first time.

“We’ve had a particularly settled line-up. You could see they were feeling it towards the end. For the most part Wolves didn’t have many big chances but at the end they scored. Wolves were able to lift themselves, particularly with the crowd behind them.

“The character and commitment was there, don’t dismiss that. The guys have played their first game of the year and you are changing three of the back four so it’s fairly disruptive. There are plenty of positives to take.”

Johnson gave Spurs, without injured pair James Maddison and Micky van de Ven until January, a third-minute lead when he turned in Pedro Porro’s cross from close range but, from then, Wolves took control.

Their tenacity and determination left Tottenham struggling but the hosts’ final ball let them down.

It took until nine minutes into the second half for a clear chance but, when it came, Hwang Hee-Chan scuffed wide with just Guglielmo Vicario to beat.

Tottenham looked like they would hang on, even going close to a second when Jose Sa turned Giovani Lo Celso’s shot over, before Wolves finally found the breakthrough.

Substitute Sarabia, on the pitch for just two minutes, levelled when he collected Matheus Cunha’s neat pass and smashed a volley past Vicario.

It was a deserved leveller but Wolves wanted more and got it in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Tommy Doyle’s quick free-kick sent Sarabia away and he picked out Lemina, running from deep, to poke the ball into the bottom corner.

Boss Gary O’Neil said: “It was the most proud I have been of a group I have coached, to produce what they produced against a top side.

“I would have been very proud of the group even if the game had finished 1-0 to Tottenham. I spoke to the boys at half-time, that the scoreline was irrelevant. We were the better side, don’t let the scoreline dictate how you feel.

“I try to make the team resemble me but I was never good enough to produce a performance like that.

“To be 12 weeks in, we’re ahead of where we expected to be. There was a lot of noise around the place about how much of a struggle it might be but we’ve beaten Man City and Spurs, the top two, early on in the transition. We’re ahead of the curve.”

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