Postecoglou hails 'leaders' Son and Maddison as Tottenham move top with win over Fulham

A 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium extends Spurs' unbeaten start to the Premier League season

James Maddison and Son Heung-min were both on the scoresheet in Tottenham's 2-0 win over Fulham. AP
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Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou reserved special praise for goalscorers Son Heung-min and James Maddison after his side secured a 2-0 win over London rivals Fulham on Monday night to return to the top of the Premier League table.

Spurs extended their unbeaten start to nine league games thanks to Son's opener and Maddison's first goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since his summer move from Leicester.

Tottenham leapfrogged Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool to go two points clear at the top of the table.

Fulham are the only team to beat Tottenham this season, knocking them out of the League Cup on penalties in August. But the hosts avenged that loss by recording a third successive league victory to strengthen their unexpected title challenge.

Speaking about Son and Maddison, Postecoglou said: "They are both quality players. They are both leaders at the club. They work hard for the team and it is a credit to them."

The north Londoners' superb start to Postecoglou's debut season have awoken dreams of the club's first top-flight title since Bill Nicholson's 1961 double winners.

While that ambitious target may yet prove beyond Tottenham, who haven't won a major trophy since 2008, the Australian has undoubtedly had a huge impact on a club that was in turmoil when he arrived from Celtic.

A toxic combination of Tottenham's poor results and dour displays under Antonio Conte last term, combined with Harry Kane's close-season move to Bayern Munich, left many expecting another year of turmoil.

Yet Postecoglou has astutely guided Tottenham to calmer waters, winning over doubters with his down-to-earth personality and attacking game-plan.

"It was a good result against a tough opponent. We maintained our patience and our pressing was really strong," Postecoglou said.

"Both our goals came from our press to be honest. Our work off the ball was excellent. It has been first rate all year and that is what got us the result."

Monday's victory gave Postecoglou the record for most points gained by a new manager in their first nine Premier League matches, with his 23 surpassing the mark previously held by Mike Walker and Guus Hiddink.

However, despite another victory, Postecoglou was far from pleased with his team for their second-half showing.

"Really disappointed with the second half," the Australian said. "With the ball we were nowhere near the levels we have been all year. That's probably the worst sort of 45 minutes with the ball we've had.

"We've got to make sure we stay disciplined in our approach because in the end (Guglielmo Vicario) made a couple of great saves to keep a clean sheet.

Maddison said Postecoglou had gone "ballistic" during a similar display in pre-season and some harsh words could be spoken before Friday's trip to Crystal Palace.

That said, Tottenham will go to Selhurst Park with the chance to move five points clear at the top -- a scenario not even the most optimistic fans could have envisaged.

"Pleased with the start we've had, credit to all involved," Postecoglou added. "We are where we are because we deserve to be, but plenty of reminders that there is work to do.

"That second 45 gave me plenty to think about! I’m not going to let the fact that we’ve won the game disguise the opportunity there for us to improve."

Updated: October 24, 2023, 4:18 AM