Tottenham supporters have understood this for years, but Ange Postecoglou learns it the hard way.

Tottenham supporters have understood this for years, but Ange Postecoglou learns it the hard way.

Ange Postecoglou made nine substitutions for yesterday night’s Carabao Cup second-round loss at Fulham, saying he wanted to learn more about his Tottenham peripheral players. However, there weren’t many meaningful lessons for the fans from a miserable evening.

Most Spurs supporters also knew that Davinson Sanchez, who missed the sole penalty in a 5-3 shootout loss following a 1-1 draw, has long struggled with confidence and form, and that a full-back partnership of Emerson Royal and Ben Davies was unlikely to provide much offensive drive.

They were previously aware of the difficulties playing through Fulham with a midfield consisting of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp, and Giovani Lo Celso, as well as the inadequacy of goalkeeper Fraser Forster to meet Postecoglou’s standards.

But Postecoglou discovered this the hard way, and Spurs’ chances in the competition that is most likely to be won this season are over before the month of August is done and before the top seven have even been drawn. The FA Cup is now unquestionably crucial to their chances of breaking a 15-year trophy drought.

Even if it is simple to look back on a bad outcome, Postecoglou’s team selection eventually seemed like a mistake, especially given the club’s absence of European football and the supporters’ yearning for a legitimate shot at the cups.

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Last night was all-too-familiar for a manager who has spoken so forcefully about the need for change; it wasn’t all that dissimilar from the domestic cup losses to Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest last season, when Antonio Conte rested players.

Making so many adjustments seldom results in a cohesive team, especially when playing Fulham, who were closer to full strength. It was also peculiar because Sanchez and Hojbgerg are two players who might still depart Spurs before Friday at 11 p.m.
My top objective is [the Carabao Cup], yet there isn’t any European football, so how am I going to learn about our players? stated Postecoglou.

For Spurs, Davinson Sanchez missed a critical penalty shot. from Reuters

If the manager learned anything, it would be that certain people are necessary for his style of play to be successful.
Spurs struggled to build from the back after replacing Guglielmo Vicario and Cristian Romero with Forster and Sanchez. To get beyond Fulham’s push, Yves Bissouma and possibly James Maddison, a late substitution, were essential.

On August 8, an otherwise similar-looking Spurs team defeated Barcelona’s starting lineup in the Joan Gamper Trophy thanks to Vicario in goal and Bissouma anchoring the midfield. However, last night, lacking technical passers who could perform under pressure, Spurs were disjointed and overwhelmed by an impressive Fulham team. Fulham took the lead thanks to an own goal by Micky van de Ven before Richarlison’s second-half equalizer.
With five or six substitutions, Spurs would still have had a team that could play the Australian’s style and possibly carry over the spirit and momentum from their incredibly encouraging campaign.

As it stands, Postecoglou’s vision has already experienced a setback, which, in terms of Fulham, felt wholly unnecessary.