Ange Postecoglou Wenger comparison raises many questions

Keown heaps praise on Postecoglou, even comparing him to Arsène Wenger in his initial days at Arsenal. But does this analogy stand up to scrutiny?

Martin Keown in the Daily Mail 30 September 2023

Martin Keown’s recent article in the Daily Mail on Tottenham Hotspur’s transformation under new manager Ange Postecoglou does more than raise eyebrows for Arsenal supporters—it reignites memories.

Keown likens Postecoglou’s initial impact to that of Arsène Wenger‘s transformative entry into Arsenal in 1996. While the comparison may flatter Spurs fans, the perspective feels overly optimistic, especially considering Postecoglou’s relatively brief stint in charge.

Seven games into his tenure, the heralded transformation appears premature.

Spurs were knocked out of the League Cup by Fulham and have managed only a draw against Brentford, a team Arsenal beat with their B team.

Although they managed to secure a very late win against Sheffield United, it’s hardly a scalp to put on the mantelpiece. Against Liverpool’s nine men, they needed a Liverpool goal incorrectly ruled out and a last-minute own goal before celebrating like they’d won the league.

Some players even brought their kids on to the pitch.

Yes, they also beat Manchester United, but given United’s current dismal form, that’s hardly an achievement worth lauding. They’ve lost four of their opening seven league games, including another defeat at home, this weekend to Crystal Palace.

Much like the bulk of the media, Keown’s piece glosses over these teething problems, choosing instead to focus on Postecoglou’s tactical nuances and player management.

While it’s true that players like James Maddison are showing good form, let’s not forget that Tottenham played out of their skins at the Emirates when Arsenal had a bad day and still couldn’t take all three points.

The article talks about Tottenham’s players looking “totally unified,” but Wenger’s Arsenal also had a sense of unity, along with consistency and the ability to compete at the top.

The piece mentions Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven forming a strong partnership at the back, but they haven’t truly been tested by a top-quality attack for a full 90 minutes. The absence of such critical perspective makes the piece feel slightly lopsided.

Keown, as an Arsenal fan, admits that the Tottenham transformation worries him. Yet for many Arsenal fans, the worry would come from a long-standing, consistent threat, not from a team that has had an arguably flimsy start under a new manager just because they smile a lot now and he says ‘mate’ every five minutes.

It is too early to say if Postecoglou will go on to transform Tottenham into a football powerhouse.

But for Arsenal fans, the current scenario is hardly reminiscent of the Wenger years—years filled with tactical brilliance, a highly competitive squad, and, most importantly, silverware.

If anything, the early signs from Spurs under Postecoglou should evoke more relief than concern.

After all, there is more to football than a few games of good form, something Wenger’s Arsenal knew all too well.

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