Luka Vuskovic and the unseen revolution taking place beneath Ange Postecoglou at Tottenham

A wind of change is blowing through Tottenham Hotspur and it’s not just happening with Ange Postecoglou’s first team at the north London club.

Tottenham Hotspur are undergoing something of a revolution on and off the pitch and it’s something that could be felt for years to come.

One of Ange Postecoglou’s aims at every football club he manages is to bring the fanbase and the team back together as he believes they feed off the energy each other creates. Few things bring more energy than a young player becoming a star in front of your eyes and the last time Tottenham supporters felt close to their team was when Mauricio Pochettino built a young and talented team that shook up the established order in the Premier League.

History feels like it is repeating itself right now at Spurs but to an even deeper degree at the north London club with a real positivity growing around the academy and the talents coming through the ranks right now and those coming into it from the outside.

As one of those, Spurs are set to sign 16-year-old Croatian wonderkid Luka Vuskovic from Hajduk Split ahead of many of the world’s biggest clubs. The 6ft 4ins centre-back has already played 11 times for Hajduk’s first team, eight times in their top flight last season, despite having only just turned 16 when he was handed his debut in February.

Under FIFA’s rules, the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU means that clubs are not be able to sign players from overseas until they are 18.

That means the talented teenager will not arrive at Tottenham until he reaches that age in 2025, but his decision to join, with Manchester City having reportedly made a £10.2m bid for him this year and Liverpool, Chelsea and PSG among the many top clubs around the globe interested in one of the game’s most sought after young talents, shows the growing excitement around what is happening at Spurs and also a belief that young players can flourish there again after a stale period.

As Pochettino’s tenure at Tottenham continued and the team became more and more successful so the Argentine admitted that he could only turn to academy players if they were truly something special.

Then came Jose Mourinho’s era. The Portuguese had a penchant for handing out debuts to young players but few of them if any continued to be a presence in his team.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s time at Tottenham was fleeting and barely felt within the club while Antonio Conte’s views on young players were clear. They had to be ready to fit straight into his system, it was not his job to develop them to the required standard and so the pathway from the academy to the Italian’s first team grew long, overgrown with weeds and in some places completely cordoned off.

Then Postecoglou arrived. While much of the Australian’s early tenure has been spent focused on the first team and turning that around, he has made himself available to the academy staff and it helps that the youth teams from the U21s down have always been encouraged to play in a way that is not a far cry from the attacking football the new head coach demands, with everyone encouraged to play attacking, possession-based football.

The 58-year-old is not concerned about age and comes from the ideology that if you are good enough then you are old enough.

“Over my time I’d found that the earlier promising players are thrown into the mix, the better for everyone,” Postecoglou said in his book ‘Changing the Game: Football in Australia Through My Eyes’. “The better players will really thrive and the strugglers will be found out, and no further resources will be used up on them.

“Panachaiki was going to get that treatment. In Greece I put the young, untested guys into the team en masse and was rewarded for it. I’ve never been scared to trust kids since. When I went to Brisbane, putting a young Tommy Oar and Luke DeVere in the team was easy.

“When I went to Victory I had no hesitation in playing 17-year-old Scott Galloway in the Melbourne derby. One of the young kids at Panachaiki who I made a first-team regular at 17, Andreas Samaris, is now playing for Benfica in Portugal and is also a mainstay in the Greek national team.

Soon after Matthew Craig and George Abbott, who won both of those cups under Lewis, were handed their Premier League debuts by Ryan Mason in the final game of last season and that only boosted the good feeling around the academy for the job done in developing the players to that stage.

That’s not even to mention teenagers Alfie Devine and Dane Scarlett, who have each impressed Postecoglou this summer and were given loans to Port Vale and Ipswich with the real hope that they will return next summer to challenge for spots in the Australian’s first team.

With Vuskovic set to join the fold the following year, the list of young talented players gestating at Spurs could well result in a golden generation coming through at the club just in time for a manager who will have no hesitation in using them. The future appears to be bright at Tottenham Hotspur beneath the surface as well as on top of it.

 

 

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