Opinion: Same old story – Squad rotation costs Tottenham another trophy

Tottenham crashed out of the Carabao Cup on penalties, but the game should have been won in 90 minutes. The first month of the season has drawn to a close and only the Premier League and FA Cup remain.

Postecoglou has had quite the impact in his opening games as manager. His free-flowing, attacking football has excited supporters and helped restore the club’s lost identity.

Fans boarded a boat sailing across the River Thames before the Fulham game to sing and celebrate the return of the Tottenham Hotspur which supporters know and love (YouTube). Songs of Ange Postecoglou and his team resounded throughout Central London.

What unfolded in the following hours can only be described as an unnecessary defeat. Spurs lost on penalties, but the win should have been secured in ninety minutes.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Rodrigo Muniz of Fulham is tackled by Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage on August 29, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Nine Spurs changes for Premier League opponents

Postecoglou made nine changes from the team which started against Bournemouth (Football.London). This led to another cup exit against a lower-quality opponent.

The Australian coach made the excuse that he needed to get to know his full squad. In a post-match interview, he asked, “How am I going to find out about our players”? (Sky Sports)

Postecoglou makes a valid point. In order to trim the squad, he must first understand who meets his standards. Yet the issue is not making some adjustments, but full-on squad rotation.

No domestic trophy should be treated as inferior to the Premier League. The Carabao Cup provided a realistic chance for the Lilywhites to end a 15-year trophy drought. Fielding a first team would be a welcome move.

Despite this, Ange could have probably got away with three or four changes. The problem is he went overboard and underestimated Fulham. Nine changes was too many and resulted in a defeat.

The substitutions were too late. Ange often utilised his bench around the 60-minute mark at Celtic. When Spurs scored the equaliser, he should have brought on the likes of Maddison and Bissouma to seal the win.

The irony is that Fulham will play Norwich at home in the next round of the Carabao Cup. If Postecoglou had made fewer changes, he could have fielded a weakened squad in the next round instead and had a greater chance of success.

Postecoglou cited the Champions League as a reason for his nine changes (Sky Sports). He could not use a European competition to measure the quality of his players. This is actually a good reason why he should have played with more first-team players.

The first team will already have a quieter schedule than usual. They should therefore be used in important matches.

Also, most supporters already knew which players are not first-team quality. The midfield combination of Skipp and Hojbjerg was used enough last season to know it does not work. Meanwhile, Davinson Sanchez has been given numerous opportunities and cost the team repeatedly.

Ange may be new to the club, but he continued the ongoing rhythm of playing the same players and expecting different results.

He had pre-season to test his players. Ultimately, most fans knew what to expect the moment they saw the lineup.

Having failed to treat the Carabao Cup as an important trophy, Postecoglou now only has the Premier League and FA Cup to play for.

There is a good chance Spurs will secure a top-four spot, but this cannot compare with winning a cup. If the club wishes to be taken seriously, it must give everything to fill the void in the trophy cabinet.

Postecoglou has started well in the league, but anything other than winning the title is insignificant. When a realistic chance at a trophy comes along, it must be taken.

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