Maddison has quickly filled the void as Spurs’ main man.
James Maddison was Ange Postecoglou’s third signing following his appointment as Tottenham Hotspur manager this summer, but it was the first signing that truly reflected the influence of the Australian at his new club. Postecoglou needed a new attacking midfielder and Maddison certainly fit the bill.
With Harry Kane now a Bayern Munich player, Maddison has quickly filled the void as Spurs’ main man. This was clear in his performance in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth which highlighted the progress Tottenham have made over the summer. Postecoglou’s team were well worth all three points and Maddison was a real driving force.
On the ball, Maddison is a constant threat. He can dribble, pass and poses a goal threat with his shooting from in and around the penalty box. The England international is a natural at finding pockets of space and getting into the half-spaces to give opposition defences problems. He is an exceptional all-round number 10.
However, Postecoglou has also recognised Maddison’s tactical flexibility with the 26-year-old dropped into a deeper position against Bournemouth to handle the Cherries’ high press. The ploy worked and this allowed Tottenham to create overloads through the centre of the pitch. It gave them control of the match.
It’s not just in a football sense that Maddison has filled a hole for Tottenham. His character has strengthened Spurs’ personality as a team with the 26-year-old known for his intelligence. Maddison has quite clearly become a dressing room leader despite only arriving at the North London club this summer.
Postecoglou has a clear vision for what Spurs should look like, and play like, under his stewardship and Maddison was one of the signings that first hinted he was getting his way at his new club. The Australian is known for harnessing attacking midfielders like Maddison. His system wouldn’t work without this sort of player in the team.
“There wasn’t anyone happier than me when we got him,” said Postecoglou when asked about Maddison after the win over Bournemouth. “I was delighted. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I’m overjoyed at the footballer I’ve got. The way he’s embraced the whole club, where he’s at in his life. He really wants to be the person.
“He’s that creative force for us. He works hard, wins the ball back, presses. He’s had a disrupted week. He only had one session with us, but for him to put on a performance like that is credit to him. And I think there’s more to come, when he gets more understanding with our forward players and they get more understanding with him.”
Spurs have started well under Postecoglou. There’s a stark difference between the way Tottenham finished last season and the way they are playing this season with the North London outfit catching the imagination as a modern, forward-thinking team that wants to score goals and entertain.
Several players are thriving. Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr have forged a strong understanding as Tottenham’s midfield double pivot while Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven on the same wavelength as Postecoglou’s first-choice centre back pairing. Destiny Udogie, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski also some more players playing well.
Maddison, though, embodies what Tottenham Hotspur could ultimately become under Postecoglou better than anyone else. He is at the right stage of his career to take the next step and Spurs have given him a platform to demonstrate his talent. Maddison will never replace Kane, partly because he plays in a different position, but his signing has helped point Tottenham in a different direction.