Ange Postecoglou told Tottenham and Brentford’s bickering players to focus on football rather than “bravado” after a bad-tempered 3-2 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Postecoglou joked in his post-match press conference that if the players were as brave as they thought they should prove it in a UFC cage.
There were repeated spats between Spurs and Brentford players during the game, with Brentford’s Neal Maupay clearly mocking James Maddison’s famous darts goal celebration after his opening goal, with Tottenham players then appearing to mock Maupay in return in the second half.
There were frequent flash-points and confrontations between the players, with Ivan Toney and Guglielmo Vicario having to be separated after the final whistle.
But Postecoglou said that he hoped his players were not motivated by Maupay’s celebration, and scorned the confrontational mood many of the players had embraced.
“I hope not because that’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Postecoglou said, when asked if the celebration had fired his team.
“I’m not a fan of it, I don’t like the whole bravado, pushing people around. If you’re that brave about things, my players and their players, get into a UFC cage and I’ll see how brave they are.
“We’re out there to play football. And that’s what I want our guys to do, focus on playing football.
“And they shouldn’t get motivated by things that aren’t really that important to us. Like I said, we got sucked in first half. Second half was much better.”
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In the first half, when Brentford went 1-0 up through Maupay, Postecoglou thought his team spent too much time focused on arguing rather than playing their game.
“We lost our way, we lost focus,” he said. “I was a bit frustrated with our inability to stay disciplined, just too many stops and starts, it plays into their hands.
“They had lots of set pieces and throw ins. We spent more time talking to the referee than playing the game. I was a bit frustrated we lost our real clear focus.”
So Postecoglou told his team that they needed to have a “laser focus” on playing their football rather than getting sucked into arguments with the opposition or referees.
“I don’t really care what others do and that was the issue,” Postecoglou said, when asked to comment on Maupay’s conduct.
“For me, we concentrate on how are we going to become the team we want to become, and what obstacles do we need to overcome?
“Part of that is the maturity and laser focus to not veer away from the importance…a lot of our game is based on fluency and tempo.
“All those kind of things and there is always going to be natural stoppages in games, particularly against a team like Brentford who a lot of their game structure is around set-pieces and long throws, but what you don’t want to do is add to that with our wastage of time.”
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