Ange Postecoglou admits he was too hard on Tottenham players during injury crisis

Ange Postecoglou shared sympathies with Eddie Howe over Newcastle’s injury woes  (AP)
Ange Postecoglou shared sympathies with Eddie Howe over Newcastle’s injury woes (AP)

Ange Postecoglou admitted he had been too hard on his players during Tottenham’s slump that ended with a 4-1 win over injury-ravaged Newcastle on Sunday.

Newcastle have been without 11 players in recent weeks but had pulled through before back-to-back trips to Everton and Spurs proved a step too far for the tired squad.

Since November 25 when the Magpies hammered Chelsea 4-1, injuries have forced Howe to select essentially the same starting XI, and against Tottenham it proved their undoing.

Spurs dominated throughout while at times it looked as though Newcastle’s exhausted players were running in slow motion trying to keep up.

“I think the players have given everything that they could give so I have to back them and support them but acknowledge that our performances were way off what it could be,” Howe admitted after the match.

“I’ve been backed into a very difficult position with team selection even in-game decisions. We’re in a difficult position at the minute.”

While there was a glimmer of hope with the likes of Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff finally able to take their place on the bench, Howe believes he was not in a position to make changes. Sunday kicked off a period of five matches in just 13 days

“If I make changes I want to make changes that benefit the team, everyone that I picked today wanted to play, they felt able to play, no issues but of course I understand the backlog and the fatigue that can build but we don’t have a backlog of options so I don’t know – of course we have a couple of senior professionals (on the bench) but it’s difficult to make changes to a team that has played so well as well.”

Tottenham’s victory lifted them out of a run of form that included four defeats in their last five matches, and rapidly losing pace with those at the top of the table, but the emphatic win ensures they finish the weekend just three points behind Manchester City.

Postecoglou has been contending with extensive injury problems of his own and admitted it was probably the cause of Spurs’ winless period.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit with that ( the impact of players coming back) all week because we’re trying to build something here and part of that is through the tough periods just not allow the lads too much latitude in terms of excuses, but the reality of it is – and I’ve probably been too hard on them in retrospect – we got decimated after the Chelsea game,” the Tottenham manager admitted.

“And it’s no coincidence that now we’ve started getting some players back we’re starting to look a little bit – I’m not going speak on Eddie Howe’s behalf but I can see what he’s going through and in this league you have one or two players out you’re going to struggle.

“It sounds like excuses, but that’s the reality of the Premier League, you don’t need analysis to see why in the last few weeks we haven’t been as conclusive in our results as we were earlier in the year.”