Tottenham may have no choice but to take this unorthodox path in order to survive the winter.
Ange Postecoglou, the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, might now have to wing it.
The 58-year-old, who joined from Celtic in the summer, has undergone an incredible transformation and is deserving of all the praise for his ability to heal a battered team and return it to full strength in the Premier League. He has already won three Manager of the Month titles in the division. However, a deluge of suspensions and injuries over the last two weeks has harmed the hopes of winning the championship, with Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie receiving red cards against Chelsea and Micky van de Ven and James Maddison both out until the new year.
The absence of Van de Ven is especially concerning because the £43 million summer addition has shown to be a brilliant addition to central defense. Postecoglou may now be considering unconventional solutions in light of the team’s defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers during his absence prior to the international break.
The players that could replace Micky van de Ven
Romero’s ongoing suspension, which has left the Argentine World Cup winner missing two more games, makes Van de Ven’s absence worse.
Though they didn’t play poorly—Davies, in particular, made some key interventions—Eric Dier and Ben Davies formed an unlikely defensive axis in front of Guglielmo Vicario’s goal against Wolves. However, they don’t provide Postecoglou’s system with the same poise, confidence, or progression.
Postecoglou won’t want to rush things and throw inexperienced prospects into the deep end, even though Spurs have some talented young center-halves who will be eager to step up to the plate. Ashley Phillips, for instance, started just five Championship games with Blackburn Rovers the previous season, and 18-year-old Alfie Dorrington hasn’t made his senior debut yet.
With this in mind, Postecoglou may be inclined to play the seasoned £100k-per-week midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in a deeper role than he is accustomed to, as TEAMtalk reports.
Pierre Hojbjerg’s style of play
Despite being a central midfielder, Hojbjerg possesses certain qualities that could be applied to the backline. In the previous season, he made 56 tackles in the Premier League.
According to WhoScored, the 28-year-old finished fourth in the team for tackles made in the top division in 2022–2023 and completed 88% of his passes, so he could definitely succeed in this new, highly anticipated role.
The Dane has attributes that could help him succeed in a temporary new role. According to FBref, he is among the top 15% of his positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for pass completion, the top 20% for progressive passes, and the top 8% for clearances per 90.
Additionally, he could bring the physicality and toughness to guard against the rearguard while providing a ball-playing outlet from the back to fit with Postecoglou’s vision, considering that fellow countryman Morten Bisgaard has called him a “monster.”
Although only starting two league games under his tutelage, the disciplined six-foot star would also provide leadership and has been acknowledged for his importance within the squad by Postecoglou.
It remains to be seen if such a move is implemented, but with games against Manchester City and Aston Villa approaching, Postecoglou will have to consider carefully whether Dier and Davies are dependable in the backline.