Dejan Kulusevski has suggested Ange-Ball is the “future of football” after being hugely impressed by Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou.
Key to their lightning start to the campaign has been Postecoglou’s front-foot tactics – affectionately dubbed Ange-Ball by supporters.
And speaking to TNT Sports ahead of the trip to Molineux, Kulusevski praised his new manager’s approach.
“It’s so fun because it’s something new. I think I’ve never played in a team that is so offensive, with both our right-back and left-back playing as midfielders,” he said.
“It’s completely different, it’s a new style. I learn things every day about the formation, the pressure we’re doing is unbelievable. He has an interesting view of football and maybe this is the future of football. I don’t know, probably it is.”
The Australian’s methods could hardly be more different to what came before, with previous managers Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, briefly, and Antonio Conte installing a defence-first mindset that coincided with the club drifting out of contention for the game’s biggest prizes.
“He [Postecoglou] has changed a lot of things because he’s a different man, he has his style of coaching. He changes training every day, it’s completely different, and the tactics are completely different,” said Kulusevski.
“We play a style that not many teams in Europe do. It’s still football, there’s still a ball, there’s still 11 players, but there’s a little bit of change to everything.”
Kulusevski arrived at Tottenham from Juventus in January 2022 when Conte was at the helm, with his loan move becoming permanent this summer.
And while he admitted there are big differences between the Italian and Postecoglou’s tactical styles, he insisted he had huge respect for both men.
“They are two great coaches. Two of the best in the world,” he said.
“But they are a lot different in their tactics, like completely different. With Antonio, we had a different style of playing, a different approach to games and training – much more gym, much more running.
“Whereas right now, we are doing a lot more with the ball and running with the ball, not without. So it’s different, but whoever is in charge you’ve got to listen to them and I have great respect for both of them.”
Postecoglou has already won over neutrals with his refreshingly open interviews and no-nonsense demeanour, with Kulusevski saying he always finds new ways to inspire the team.
“He doesn’t speak every day but the days he speaks, he talks about life, a little bit about tactics,” he said.
“Motivation is important because every day is a little bit the same, so you need sometimes to hear different stories and different things about life that can give you a little bit of edge on the day.
“So it helps, absolutely, and he’s very inspirational in his team talks before games and before training. When he starts to speak, you’re a happy man that you’re listening.”
Kulusevski on wild Chelsea finale – ‘Bigger than life, bigger than football’
Kulusevski admitted it was “hard watching” as nine of his team-mates valiantly battled the full quota of Chelsea stars in Monday night’s thriller, but said the positive reaction from the fans to the defeat was “bigger than life, bigger than football”.
Spurs’ hopes of claiming a result in the crunch London derby were in disarray when Destiny Udogie joined Cristian Romero in being sent off with 35 minutes still remaining and the score 1-1.
Add in first-half injuries to influential summer signings Micky van de Ven and James Maddison, and Postecoglou could have been forgiven for ordering a six-yard box retreat.
Instead, Postecoglou devised something that surprised even Kulusevski – they pushed higher up the pitch. Spurs went punch for punch with Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues for the remainder of the match, despite their numerical disadvantage, in one of the wildest finales in Premier League history.
Kulusevski was forced to watch it unfold from the sidelines – his opening goal a faint memory as Postecoglou hooked the Swede to spring his nine-man master plan.
“It was hard watching [from the bench]. Really hard,” admitted Kulusevski.
“Because they created a lot of chances, [Guglielmo] Vicario did some unbelievable saves, and you just watch the clock all the time – ‘it’s 30 minutes left, it’s 20 minutes left’.”
With such an aggressive line, and two fewer bodies in the middle, it was an ambitious ask for Spurs to cling on – and their resolve was eventually broken when Nicolas Jackson struck in the 75th minute.
But they refused to go away and almost snatched a point, only to see an outrageous Eric Dier volley ruled out and Son Heung-min spurn a late opening, before Chelsea and Jackson exploited a weary high line twice more in injury-time to end Tottenham’s unbeaten start.
“When they scored [the second], the air went out a little bit,” Kulusevski said. “But then we created a lot of chances, so it was not easy to sit on the bench. I was proud of the boys that were playing.”
Asked if the team had rehearsed for this unusual scenario, he continued: “No, we absolutely did not practise for it.
“In the post-match meetings, we saw the line was a little bit too high – if you don’t have pressure on the ball, then you cannot play with a line that high. But the players that played did amazing things because the truth is it could have finished 2-2 with the great chances we had.
“It was a new experience for all of us, but of course in the future we want to play with 11 against 11.”
On Postecoglou’s decision to deploy the high line with nine men when the game was still level, he said: “It was surprising but we always play with a high line. It was a game we’ve never seen before and I hope in the future we will not see it again!”
The match seemed cathartic for Tottenham fans worn down by the largely dreary offerings served up by Postecoglou’s predecessors Conte, Nuno and Mourinho, with applause reverberating around the stadium as Jackson wheeled away to celebrate the strangest of Premier League hat-tricks.
“It’s important, we want to have the fans on our side like we have right now,” Kulusevski added. “Obviously they like what we are doing on the pitch a lot, and they like the new playing style, so we need them.
“It was unbelievable [on Monday], losing a game 4-1 in the end but still getting applause. It’s something that is bigger than life, bigger than football, so that made me very proud and made us want to work even harder to make them even happier.”
How to watch Wolves v Tottenham on Saturday
TNT Sports is available across all major TV platforms, offering a line-up of up to four TV channels (TNT Sports 1, TNT Sports 2, TNT Sports 3, TNT Sports 4), and up to six digital or red-button channels (TNT Sports 5 to 10), and TNT Sports Ultimate plus TNT Sports Box Office HD.
Wolves v Tottenham will be live on TNT Sports 1 and TNT Sports Ultimate with coverage from 11:00 UK time on Saturday, November 11.