Ange Postecoglou’s press conferences are always box office and his latest meeting with the media was no different ahead of Tottenham’s Premier League showdown against London rivals Chelsea.
Tottenham are unbeaten and top of the table as they prepare for a reunion with former boss Mauricio Pochettino in London on Tuesday (AEDT).
Pochettino will return to Spurs for the first time since his acrimonious departure in the winter of 2019, which occurred months after he guided the north London club to the UEFA Champions League final.
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There have been various points over the past four years where Tottenham supporters have longed for their old boss to return amid an identity crisis, but chairman Daniel Levy decided to go in a different direction and hired Postecoglou, while Pochettino by this point had already accepted the Chelsea job.
Eyebrows were raised when Pochettino took over at Stamford Bridge in May, given the rivalry between the London clubs during his five-year tenure at Spurs, and it could result in a mixed reaction on his return to N17 next week.
Postecoglou was asked about Pochettino impending return to Tottenham, with one journalist’s line of questioning catching the Australian legend off guard.
The reporter asked: “No one likes to be reunited with an ex, especially when your ex is with someone now that you hate, but are you hopeful Spurs fans won’t show hostility towards Mauricio Pochettino?”
Shaking his head in disbelief, Postecoglou laughed and replied: “Jeez that is a lot to take in.
“Thankfully those sort of days are well past me. I think your reference is to Mauricio right?
“Look, it is undoubted that he had an unbelievable impact on this football club. All of us in our roles, that is our ultimate goal and ambition that whatever doors we go through, we make an impact and he has had an undeniable impact on this football club in his time here.
“He almost took the club to the ultimate summit of the Champions League, got close to the league, so his work is unquestioned. Everyone I speak to around here, there are still people who worked with him, they can’t speak highly enough of him as a person and as a manager.
“I doubt there will be anything but respect for Mauricio from anyone at this football club, supporters or people associated, but it doesn’t mean he will get a guard of honour on Monday night because we want to win.
“I don’t think he would expect that, but his tenure here and impact here is undeniable and will stand the test of time. Whenever people think of Mauricio and his time here as a Spurs manager, they will only look upon it with respect and fondness.”
When another journalist asked, “how are you?”, it prompted another golden response from Postecoglou.
“I’m just getting over my ex and thinking about the future,” he joked.
Pochettino has suffered plenty of teething problems at Chelsea, but did spend more than £350million this summer and pressure is beginning to grow with the club struggling in 11th position after only three league wins all season.
It is in complete contrast to Postecoglou, who lost record goalscorer Harry Kane on the eve of the new season and yet has transformed the club with an unbeaten run to the Premier League summit.
The Australian coach added: “What I know is you don’t really know what challenges exist until you’re in it.
“Even here, people can assume what kind of challenges I had coming in but it is probably not a tenth of what we had to do or what I felt needed to change.
“Whether that’s Mauricio or any other manager I guess, you don’t really know what they are having to deal with to get to the end point.
“At the same time, while others may look at it and say ‘that’s a real difficult one’, there will be managers saying, ‘I wish I had a billion to spend and waste’ because what some people sometimes see as an advantage, others see as a disadvantage. That’s the challenge for all us managers.
“I really think we are all in our own unique space that nobody can really understand because none of us can really disclose all the information because that’s the way organisations work.
“What I have to deal with and what Mauricio has to deal with are probably very, very different, but in essence what we are trying to do is the same thing: build a team that we believe can bring success.
“You look at Mauricio’s track record and I’ve got no doubt he’ll get Chelsea on the right path, I’ve no doubt about that.”