fbpx Skip to main content

Ange Postecoglou remained defiant in the face of more debate over Tottenham’s set-piece issues and insisted they would not copy the “strategy” adopted by Arsenal.

Spurs have shipped 14 goals from set-pieces – excluding penalties – in the Premier League this season after they conceded twice from corners in Sunday’s 3-2 home loss to the Gunners.

Leaders Arsenal have become set-piece kings since Mikel Arteta recruited specialist coach Nicolas Jover and one of his tactics was to have Ben White attempt to dislodge the gloves of Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

Whether it worked or not can be disputed but what is clear is that Vicario has been targeted in recent months from corners and free-kicks after notable struggles against Manchester City and Everton earlier this year.

Quizzed on set-pieces again before Thursday’s trip to Chelsea, Postecoglou recalled the lyrics from ‘You May Be Right’ by the famous singer Billy Joel.

“I’ve answered this question and I don’t think it satisfies people, but no I don’t see it as an issue. It’s something that we work on along with everything in our game,” Postecoglou claimed.

“To quote Billy Joel, you may be right, I may be crazy, but it’s maybe a lunatic you’re looking for. I’m just not interested in it. I never have been.

“Enough of you (media) have done enough research on me to know this is not the first time I’ve been questioned about set-pieces in my coaching career. There is an underlying reason for that which I’m very, very comfortable with.

“Eventually I will create a team that has success and it won’t be because of working on set-pieces.”

On White’s interference of Vicario’s gloves, Postecoglou claimed: “It’s a strategy. You can label it, but it’s a strategy.

“I don’t take a lot of interest in that stuff, never have. I’m not casting judgement, but I just don’t really care. If people are going to think that’s going to give them an advantage or whatever, I just don’t worry about that stuff. I just try to focus on building teams that win things.

“I know it’s great theatre. Whether he’s trying to undo his glove, tickle his armpit, or whatever. I don’t care. I try to get my players not to worry about that stuff, not focus on that stuff. It’s not important.

“And if you want to go down that avenue, what’s he supposed to do. Turn around and throw a punch and knock him out or say, ‘please don’t touch me’. What does that do?

“Seriously, we’re not in the school yard. It’s never been where my focus lies.

“To be honest, if I saw one of my players do it I’d be saying, ‘mate, seriously? Get the ball and play some football’. That doesn’t mean it’s not a strategy that can’t be used, but I just don’t care about it.”

All eyes will be on how Spurs cope with set-pieces at Stamford Bridge but the fixture also conjures up memories of the dramatic clash between the teams at Tottenham in November.

The 4-1 defeat was the first league loss of Postecoglou’s tenure, although the score only tells half the story with the hosts reduced to nine men but being applauded off after the derby remained in the balance until stoppage time.

Postecoglou reflected: “The manner in which we played I think maybe gave people a small insight into what we’re trying to create here and the way we’re going about it and deal with challenges.

“Subsequent to that we’re still trying to do it the same way.

“We haven’t always succeeded but I think all the pain we’re going through this year is going to hold us in good stead.”

Despite recent inconsistencies, Tottenham have enjoyed a fine debut season under Postecoglou but opposite number Mauricio Pochettino is under scrutiny after Chelsea’s lavish spending.

“I think there is an avenue there (for success) but it’s not guaranteed and it certainly isn’t inevitable,” Postecoglou conceded.