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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Postecoglou admits Spurs are still in a 'discovery stage' following disappointing cup exit at Fulham


Ange Postecoglou has confessed that his Tottenham side are still in a “discovery stage” following their penalty shootout defeat to Fulham in the second round of the Carabao Cup.


An unbeaten start to the Premier League season raised hopes that Postecoglou had immediate answers to long-term issues at Spurs, but this defeat served as something of a reality check.


The Tottenham boss made nine changes from the side that beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Saturday, and Fulham were deservedly ahead at the break when Micky Van de Ven turned a Tom Cairney cross into his own net.


Richarlison equalised for Spurs after the break with his first goal of the season before a Davinson Sanchez penalty miss proved costly in the shootout.


“We weren’t at our fluent best, particularly early on, which is not surprising with the amount of changes I made,” Postecoglou explained. “Some of the boys tonight were making their first start of the season. I really liked the way we hung in there. There are many different ways to grow as a team and I thought we showed some real character to hang in there.


“If we had lost 4-0 and got blown away then maybe there would be a different discussion to be had, but if we’d won on penalties would my views be different? No, they’d be exactly the same.”


Postecoglou defended his decision to make wholesale changes. Only Van de Ven and Richarlison started from the side that began the game at Bournemouth, and Spurs failed to find the rhythm that has helped them make such a successful start in the Premier League.


The north London club are expected to be busy in the final days of the transfer window, with a bloated squad set to be reduced by the likely departures of Eric Dier, Sergio Reguillon and Tanguy Ndombele.


The 58-year-old said that the cup loss is unlikely to change his transfer plans, and felt it was necessary for some of his fringe players to get minutes in their legs.


“There’s no European football so how am I going to find out about our players?” Postecoglou posited after the game. “What opportunity would I have to do that after the game? They’re all Tottenham players, they’re all part of our club.


“We’re very much in the discovery stage so we need to give players the opportunity to contribute. That’s why they’re here, not just to make up the numbers.


“We’re going to need to rely on these guys. There will be disruptions, injuries, players will come in and out. We needed to get some game time into some guys and that will be difficult going forward.”


One positive for Postecoglou was Richarlison opening his account for the new campaign. The Brazilian scored just three goals last season, and had been substituted without scoring in all three games under the new manager.


However, the Spurs boss made it clear that he expects more from his strikers than goals alone.


“I know everyone’s been talking about it (Richarlison not scoring), but I think he’s played better in other games,” Postecoglou said. “For me it’s about contributing to how we play. We gave away the ball too much tonight, not just him.


“It’s an important part of our game and that’s what I want Richy to keep working on and improving. I think the goals will come with the way we play. Our strikers and attacking players will get opportunities to score but for me it’s about the overall game, that’s much more important at this stage.”

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