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Ange Postecoglou said some of his Tottenham players slipped into self-preservation mode after they squandered the chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League in a second defeat in six days. He acknowledged his side “ran out of steam” at Wolves after failing to build on Brennan Johnson’s opener.

Wolves scored twice in second-half stoppage time to record an impressive comeback win, with Pablo Sarabia, a second-half substitute, and Mario Lemina rendering Johnson’s first Tottenham goal in effect a footnote.

Mario Lemina grabs dramatic win for Wolves as two late goals stun SpursRead more

Postecoglou said: “We were winning the game and a lot of the guys, in the back of their minds, hadn’t played for quite a while and there was a little bit of self-preservation to get us through to the end of the game, but it’s all understandable stuff given the lineup we had out there.”

He felt his side grew passive despite taking a third-minute lead. “We started well but we could have been a little bit more positive, a little bit more aggressive, particularly with the ball,” he said. “I have got to temper that with the fact we’ve made so many changes and we’re not going to get the same sort of fluency when three of your back four are virtually starting for the first time [this season].

“We’ve made a couple of changes further up as well so it’s not going to be as fluid but we could have been more positive.”

It is the first time Postecoglou has lost successive games as a manager since September 2021, with Celtic. But the Australian was diplomatic about his side’s second defeat of the week, after their unbeaten start came to an abrupt end against Chelsea on Monday, when Destiny Udogie and Cristian Romero were sent off.

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Postecoglou was forced into four changes, with James Maddison and Micky van de Ven absent with ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively, that will keep them out until the new year and Romero and Udogie suspended. Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg made their first league starts of the season and Ben Davies and Emerson Royal their second.

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“Some of the guys have played their first games of the year – changing three of the back four is fairly disruptive, especially when the guys haven’t played at all,” Postecoglou said. “They will be better for the experience. They will be stronger now they have a match under their belts, so there are plenty of positives.”

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