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Ange Postecoglou does not think Tottenham’s friendly Down Under is a blunder

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Mar 2024

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Ange Postecoglou has labelled Tottenham’s post-season friendly in Melbourne as a “unique opportunity” but admitted it is unlikely to become a regular occurrence.

Spurs announced earlier this month they would visit Australia after the Premier League season concludes to take on Premier League rivals Newcastle in an exhibition fixture.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground clash on May 22 has been roundly criticised due to player welfare concerns and for a lack of regard for the environment, a matter of weeks after Green Football Weekend.

Postecoglou defended the merits of the post-season friendly, which will see the 58-year-old return to his home city.

“We leave straight after the last game (at Sheffield United) and we’ll be taking everyone who’s fit,” Postecoglou revealed.

“We thought that with our season being so disrupted and not a lot of games, this was a unique opportunity for us.

“I wouldn’t see this as something that would happen on a regular basis unless we felt the benefits would outweigh the costs.

“On this occasion when we balanced everything up, we felt it was a good opportunity to take the club to the other side of the world and help us continue to grow the football club.”

England boss Gareth Southgate was recently asked about the friendly, which will involve Euro 2024 hopefuls Kieran Trippier, Anthony Gordon and James Maddison, and predicted post-season fixtures will happen more often.

Southgate expressed his hope that none of his players would suffer injuries.

But Postecoglou insisted: “I’m sure Gareth will be a club coach one day and he’ll get a different perspective, as he has been in the past.

“I don’t think Gareth has said anything, or any other national team manager.

“I was a national team manager. I used to sweat over it at the weekend when the players were playing whether that was a normal game, a friendly game, whatever game it is.

“The flip side of that is there were quite a few club coaches on edge with national team duty this week so it’s the world we live in.

“There has to be a balance. We’ve thought it through as a football club and it’s fair to say if we’d been in Europe and had a really big season, we probably would have made a different decision.

“We weighed everything up and felt like there was a real benefit to playing this game.”

Before the trip Down Under, Spurs will aim to get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track at home to Luton on Saturday.

Tottenham are boosted by the return of Micky van de Ven after a recent muscle injury, while Richarlison is fit despite a knee issue preventing him from getting minutes for Brazil this month.

Richarlison has made headlines after opening up about his mental health struggles during an interview with ESPN Brasil this week.

The Brazil forward, who back in September expressed his intention to seek “psychological help”, revealed he was in a state of depression after the 2022 World Cup and “wanted to give up”.

Postecoglou knows Richarlison is not alone in feeling that way as a footballer, adding: “It’s not that uncommon. It’s not, not in my experience.

“They’re human beings, but for the most part it’s always dealt behind closed doors.

“I guess it’s striking because players or managers or people involved in football haven’t come out publicly before.

“But I can assure you…there are problems that players and people involved in our industry deal with. The amount of money you have in the bank balance or your fame doesn’t shield you from that.

“It’s a credit to him. He could have dealt with this privately obviously but I think the public aspect of it, it’s a brave decision for him.

“More importantly it’s hopefully a great conduit for others to reach out and seek help when it’s required.”

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