Ange leaves English football legends in stitches after aiming apparent dig at Gary Neville

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has appeared to aim a sly dig at English football legend Gary Neville, when asked about his team’s tactics following their 2-0 win over Bournemouth.

Postecoglou’s side continued their unbeaten run to start the season at the Vitality Stadium, thanks to goals from James Maddison and Dejan Kulusevski either side of half-time.

Despite their promising beginning to the campaign, Neville raised concerns regarding Postecoglou’s use of Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro as inverted full-backs following their 2-0 victory over Manchester United a week earlier.

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“I think these coaches have taken a Pep Guardiola idea and made it quite ineffective. There is no doubt there is balance between the risk and reward, but Spurs need to adapt,” Neville said.

He continued: “I do feel there is a flaw in the way they set up, however, it does come with some reward.

“What you have here is the two full-backs in midfield, in (Destiny) Udogie and (Pedro) Porro, what I didn’t like about the way that Spurs deployed this system is that when these two centre-backs here were on the ball I felt as though they didn’t have that simple pass wide in any, way shape or form.”

“I see the benefit of this system, you isolate your wingers one v one. They have taken the United wide players in. So, from that point of view, I see the benefit of it. But from my point of view, you have players in a very uncomfortable position.”

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The use of inverted full-backs is a tactic that had been turned mainstream by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola throughout his stint at the reigning Premier League champions – but it’s also one that’s been replicated by coaches across the world including AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Postecoglou is another manager who has used a similar manoeuvre throughout recent time at both Yokohama F Marinos and Celtic prior to arriving at Spurs. It’s a move that has been largely effective, and has already bore fruit in his first weeks at the North London outfit.

Following the victory over the Cherries, Postecoglou was asked by TNT Sports pundit and former England international Joe Cole about his use of inverted full-backs: “They look like they’re playing with freedom, is that something you’ve worked on? Not that I’m trying to steal your secrets or anything.

Postecoglou responded: “There’s no secret, I’m just copying Pep, mate!”

The quip left both Cole and fellow former England international Peter Crouch in stitches.

“We do a lot of work on it. A lot of it, it is on instincts but we’re trying to create a system, wherever I’ve been, that is as fluid as it can be,” Postecoglou continued.

“If there’s space there, forget that you’re a full-back, you’re a footballer, get in that space. It’s up to us to make sure that we’re covering the gaps that are left.”

Both Udogie and Porro were influential yet again on Saturday night (AEST), with the former getting an assist for Kulusevski in the second-half.

The Aussie elaborated on the use of the duo as almost quasi-midfielders.

“I think once players realise that they have the freedom to be able to do that, it’s still very structured, then they don’t second guess themselves. They know that it doesn’t matter if they’re a left full-back, if there’s space there then they get into it,” he said.

“Both Pedro and Destiny, when they have the ball and they’re running with it, they’re really difficult to stop. It’s an essential area and it makes it more effective.”