Ange Postecoglou's Tottenham honeymoon is over and his dig has aggravated fans...Let's hope this fallout doesn't play out like Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte

Things might feel very different had Ange Postecoglou completed his first Tottenham season in reverse.

Had his team careered through springtime on a run of 10 games without defeat, collecting 26 points in fearless fashion to finish fifth to return to European competition, it would have been called good, solid progress after those problems at the start to life after Harry Kane.

As it is, Postecoglou’s debut season is unravelling to its frayed and unsatisfactory end, with a lingering fear in the background, what if he’s been found out and you simply can’t play this way in the Premier League?

Form is poor, rhythm is lost and so is that early-season thrill. If they manage a win at Sheffield United on Sunday, the final 10 games will have returned 13 points, half of the return from the first 10 with victories against each of the bottom four and a point against West Ham.

They have not won away since smashing four past Aston Villa in March, when they looked for all the world like a Champions League-bound team. Fixtures have been difficult of late, but ‘First-10 Tottenham’ rattled the best teams even though they got lucky with a VAR call to beat Liverpool.

Ange Postecoglou's side have won only one of their last five matches in the Premier League

Erling Haaland's brace on Tuesday night ended Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League

‘Last-10 Tottenham’ got it together for 20 minutes against Arsenal and half an hour at Anfield and held Manchester City through the first half but did not look like beating any of them.

Then came those post-City reflections, with Postecoglou’s first little dig at the mindset. ‘The foundations are really fragile,’ he said. ‘The last 48 hours have shown me that.

It’s inside the club, outside the club. Everywhere. It’s been an interesting exercise.’ Not quite as scathing as Antonio Conte’s farewell drive-by last year, but enough to agitate Spurs fans, who were not impressed with being told how to feel about helping Arsenal to win the title.

Postecoglou has not made many communication mistakes. The second-string team selection and defeat on penalties at Fulham in the Carabao Cup was one but his messages have been well pitched.

Decorating his adventurous, attacking football with nostalgic references to Ossie Ardiles and Bill Nicholson gave the impression that he understood the club. Regularly grumbling about VAR and social media, he has talked like a genuine football supporter from his generation.

Refusing to berate officials or knee-slide after a late winner, he comes through like a mature and sensible manager. It is all part of the Big Ange appeal, but those autumn nights at the Premier League summit with fans singing his name and Robbie Williams rewriting lyrics to one of his songs in his honour seem a long way off now.

Victory at Crystal Palace in October sent Spurs five points clear and spirits soaring. New arrivals such as Guglielmo Vicario, James Maddison and Micky van de Ven were outstanding.

Cristian Romero, Pedro Porro and Yves Bissouma greatly improved, Son Heung-min exceptional. No one pined for Kane or asked why Eric Dier didn’t play when he was the only fit centre half.

Postecoglou, it seemed, was the one, and with three or four more quality players he might deliver a team capable of leading Spurs back to the top and get the trophies rolling in again.

With the summer transfer window about to open, however, the mood is different and Tottenham’s squad looks in need of major investment rather than a little reinforcement. Form is failing and Postecoglou has resisted pressure to change his tactical style, dismissing the goals conceded from set-pieces almost as an irrelevance, blaming the disjointed nature of the season for a sudden absence of fluency.

He spoke often about improving in the attacking third and yet, clearly, his defensive unit could do with more depth. He has tweaked restlessly at his midfield in recent weeks as he lost the effective balance of Bissouma, Maddison and Pape Matar Sarr.

Some of this is down to injuries, international duties and the strain of a 10-month campaign but they have only played 40 games. Next season, they have Europe to contend with and may win some domestic cup ties.

Tottenham made a superb start to the campaign and found themselves five points clear at the top after victory over Crystal Palace in October

Spurs fans will hope Postecoglou's rant does not end up playing out like the end of Antonio Conte's spell at the club

So, the summer transfer market suddenly feels important, and friction often develops behind the scenes at Tottenham when the market is open. That’s when managers begin to take umbrage because their initial flicker of success, usually a place in European competition, is not supported by new signings.

That’s when tempers fray and discontent surfaces via tetchy public comments. It ended this way for Mauricio Pochettino, for whom attractive football could not keep him in a job once trophies became the priority, as it did for Jose Mourinho and Conte, appointed for their winning records but unable to entertain when entertainment was most important.

Hopefully for Spurs, Postecoglou remains the man to solve this conundrum and this is not the dawn of the next stage in a now-familiar cycle — but it feels like the Big Ange honeymoon might be over

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