Ange Postecoglou said he was left “really disappointed” by Tottenham’s second-half performance against Fulham – despite his side returning to the top of the Premier League table courtesy of a 2-0 win on Monday night.
Spurs have made their best start to a league campaign since 1960/61 – the year they last won the title – as goals from Son Heung-min and James Maddison ensured Postecoglou’s side returned to the Premier League summit.
Postecoglou himself has now made a record start as a Premier League manager, taking 23 points from his first nine matches since joining the club from Scottish champions Celtic in the summer.
But despite the feeling of optimism returning to Tottenham supporters since his arrival, Postecoglou was in no mood to celebrate as the Australian criticised his team for taking their foot off the gas.
“I’m really disappointed with the second half,” Postecoglou said.
“We were nowhere near the levels we have been all year and we have got to make sure we stay disciplined in our approach. The keeper [Guglielmo Vicario] made a couple of great saves to keep the clean sheet and within the context we should have had a much better control of the game.
“I’m not trying to make a point, it’s just what I saw. I thought we were really wasteful with the ball in the second half. We took some liberties with taking extra touches. I’ve been around long enough to know if you try to take liberties, you’ll get dragged down pretty quickly.
“I’m not going to let the fact that we’ve won the game disguise the opportunity there for us to improve. In the second half, with the ball we weren’t anywhere near the levels we’ve already shown this year and there was no real reason for it. It wasn’t as if the opposition did anything different. It was more self-inflicted.
“My role in that was to give feedback to the players. That’s what they want. They want to get better, they want to improve, I’ve got some stuff there to show them.”
Tottenham’s unusual Monday-Friday double header this week means they could stretch their lead at the top of the table to five points should they defeat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park before the weekend.
And although Spurs are earning plaudits for their attacking football under Postecoglou, the Tottenham manager believes his team still has a “long way to go”.
“I think I’ve sat here every week and said that,” Postecoglou said. “That doesn’t change. We are nine games in and we’re at the beginning of building something.
“It would be so much easier for me to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’re a great team’. What I’m saying is we have to improve and that puts the responsibility on me to make sure we do it. We can be better, absolutely we can.”
Despite his disapproval at Tottenham’s second-half display, Postecoglou was full of praise for this team’s “outstanding” pressing as well as the performance of midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjreg, who made his first start of the Premier League campaign in place of the suspended Yves Bissouma.