Ange Postecoglou promised Tottenham would improve and praised the resilience of his squad for not allowing Harry Kane’s departure to distract them after they battled to a 2-2 Premier League draw at Brentford.
Kane’s exit to Bayern Munich – coupled with four full debutants being used in their season opener – contributed to the start of a new dawn at Spurs and along with hosts Brentford, they produced an entertaining affair in west London.
Cristian Romero headed Tottenham in front after 11 minutes before quick-fire efforts from Bees forwards Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa turned around this season opener, but James Maddison – wearing the 10 shirt in Kane’s absence – set up Emerson Royal to level matters on the stroke of half-time.
It stayed 2-2 despite the visitors having 69 per cent possession and 18 shots, which pleased Postecoglou to an extent but the Australian was also aware they must get better in the final third, especially following the £100million sale of their record goal-scorer.
“Football clubs move on pretty quickly,” Postecoglou reflected when asked if he had discussed Kane’s departure with the squad.
“I haven’t needed to address it, I haven’t needed to give them a warm fuzzy cuddle just to see how they are. We had a game to prepare for and they knew that.
“I think that was the important thing for us.
“If it felt like we were distracted, I was distracted or anyone else, I think you would have seen evidence of it today, particularly after that first half and the way it went.
“We showed a real resilience that we’re going to need because it’s going to be a challenging year for sure.
“It was a good starting point for us today, but we need to improve and we have to improve and we will.
“I think that 2-1 down, having conceded a penalty and an own goal, it would have been very easy for us to drop our heads but I never sensed that in the group.”
After Romero had combined with fellow vice-captain Maddison to open the scoring, he was forced off following an earlier clash of heads with Mbeumo.
The Argentina international wanted to stay on, but Postecoglou had no doubt over the substitution, although was critical over how a pedantic minor error by Spurs’ backroom staff penalised them when it came to further substitutes.
Postecoglou added: “They were pretty sure we needed – for his own benefit – to get him off and obviously what we know about head injuries, for me it is not even an issue. We will always err on the side of caution.
“Disappointed that we apparently filled out the wrong slip and it was not a concussion sub.
“In this day and age, where what we know about head injuries, if we are going to worry about what form we fill out, I thought it was pretty clear what happened – but hopefully he’ll be OK.”
Despite no longer having Kane to call on and with other experienced members of the squad in Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier not involved, Postecoglou was happy to give the away fans reasons for optimism.
“I thought our supporters were outstanding today,” he said.
“It is fair to say we have put them through a fair bit this pre-season and all we can try and do is give them some hope and belief.
“Hopefully they leave the ground, maybe disappointed we weren’t able to get the win, but at least seeing the players are fully committed to us trying to be a football team that makes an impact.”
While a lot of the pre-match focus centred on Tottenham being without Kane, Brentford are missing last season’s top goal-scorer Ivan Toney until January due to his ban for repeated betting breaches.
Bees boss Thomas Frank maintained there was no need for them to sign a new forward and was pleased to be validated in their opening fixture with Mbeumo and Wissa on target.
He said: “There have been quite a few questions from you guys at the end of last season and the start of this about ‘will we buy a striker?’ And I’ve said no, no, no, no and no because we believe the forward players we have will provide enough goals.
“Bryan and Wissa showed it last season and I am so glad they showed it again today.
“Do I want Ivan in the team? Yes, but I know he is not there before January so I am not focused too much on that, only on the players we have now.”