Tottenham Hotspur welcomed playmaker James Maddison back to their starting line-up for the first time in nearly three months and while he helped spark his side to a 3-2 win over Brentford on Wednesday.
He also got a ticking off from manager Ange Postecoglou. Maddison, who suffered an ankle injury in November, was off the pace in the first half as a ragged Tottenham trailed 1-0, but looked more like his old self in a scintillating second-half display by the hosts.
Postecoglou accused his side of lacking discipline in the first half as they were clearly rattled by a Brentford side who took the lead through Neal Maupay’s 15th-minute effort and seemed to get under the skin of the hosts.
“(Maddison) got more and more into the game and I think he’s one of the guilty ones who spent more time in the first half chatting to the ref than getting on the ball,” Postecoglou said.
“That’s not what we want him to do. We want him to play football and I thought in the second half his quality shone through and when he’s like that, and I’m sure that game will do him the world of good, it just gives us so much more flow.”
Maddison had a hand in Tottenham’s third goal in a devastating eight-minute spell which saw Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison all score.
“When they scored we lost our way, we lost focus, I was a bit frustrated with our inability to stay disciplined,” Postecoglou, whose side moved into fourth place in the Premier League table, told reporters.
“We spent more time talking to the referee than playing the game. I was a bit frustrated we lost our real clear focus. “But second half I think for 25 or 30 minutes we were outstanding, scored three great goals and probably should have had a couple more.”
With Maddison back, the treatment room emptying and several players soon to return from international duty, Postecoglou’s side look well-placed to challenge for a top-four finish in the Australian’s first season.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts the whole season, so it’s nothing different for us,” he said.
“There is still a lot of growth in this team and nights like tonight, nights like Friday night just shows me we still have a long way to go. “Within that context the fact this team still produces and gets results is a credit to them, but we need to keep improving in a whole lot of areas.”