Alan Shearer slams ‘crazy’ Newcastle and Tottenham over end-of-season match in Australia

Ange Postecoglou - Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou before the match
Postecoglou admitted that he has not looked much like a manager who has enjoyed himself - REUTERS/Peter Powell

Alan Shearer has branded Newcastle United’s and Tottenham’s decision to fly to Australia hours after the end of the Premier League season “crazy” and “madness” as he expressed player welfare concerns.

Tottenham boarded a plane to Australia for a post-season friendly against Newcastle within hours of the final whistle of their 3-0 victory over Sheffield United on Sunday, with Newcastle doing the same following the 4-2 win at Brentford.

A video shared on Spurs’ X account on Sunday night showed the players boarding a plane to Melbourne. The friendly has attracted criticism from climate campaigners and player welfare activists, while Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said it was ‘not ideal’. Guglielmo Vicario shouted ‘let’s go’ as the players boarded the jet while James Maddison was pictured with his hands full of luggage.

The post-season plans – which come before both the European Championship and Copa America this summer – were criticised by former Newcastle captain Shearer, who admitted he would find it unacceptable to ask players at the end of a gruelling season to travel halfway around the world for a money-spinning friendly.

“Madness,” Shearer said on Match of the Day. “Crazy. Crazy. Can you imagine if you’re a player playing at either the Copa America or Euros and having to do that? I wouldn’t be happy at all. Crazy.”

Spurs, who did not play in Europe this season, will take on Newcastle at the MCG on Wednesday in a match that Kieran Trippier also questioned. Trippier said the friendly was ‘not ideal’ and Postecoglou echoed his sentiments and claimed a trip to his hometown would not have been on the agenda had Tottenham been in Europe this term.

“Our situation is a bit different from Newcastle’s,” said Postecoglou, when asked about Trippier’s comments. “They’ve had a European season, Champions League, it’s been a big season. We haven’t. It’s no secret part of this exposure but also revenue for us.

“I certainly wouldn’t have allowed it to happen if we were in Europe this year and had a bigger game schedule. I probably would have said no to it. And I don’t think the club would have expected us to go. If we’re in Europe next year, I don’t think you’ll be seeing this happen.

“I don’t think it’s ideal. But I think each situation is unique. For us, on the back of our season, to play one more game two days after the end of the season, there is substance to it for us.”

Arsenal, Newcastle and Tottenham’s travel plans have also been condemned by environmental campaigners, who want football clubs to set a better example on sustainability.

Frank Huisingh, founder of Fossil Free Football, a group of football fans urging the game to take serious action on the climate, told Telegraph Sport: “I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. It’s unfortunate that flying has become normalised in football, and this is just the latest example.”

Postecoglou ‘loved every minute’ of Spurs’ season

By James Shield

After spending the week bemoaning Tottenham Hotspur’s fragile foundations, Ange Postecoglou was relieved to face a team whose footings are more brittle than his own.

But as the Australian attempts to build a club capable of challenging for the Premier League title, rather than revelling in Arsenal’s failure to lift the trophy, he will recognise this comfortable victory over already-relegated Sheffield United is not the best gauge of progress.

“Contrary to my general demeanour, I’ve loved every minute,” said Postecoglou, after Dejan Kulusevski’s double and Pedro Porro’s thunderous effort ensured his first year in charge delivered a fifth-place finish. “Taking over a big club in this division, you understand not everything is going to run smoothly.

“I’ve got some pretty lofty ambitions and, until we reach those, I’m not always going to be smiling.”

As Postecoglou conceded, the visitors’ progress was not quite as serene as the scoreline might suggest with Chris Wilder’s side initially making a decent fist of things before their lack of quality and confidence was exposed. A major rebuilding exercise faces the United manager this summer, having seen his men beaten for the 28th time this term. Bottom of the table, only Derby County and Sunderland have accumulated fewer points in the competition’s history across the course of a season.

Wilder has insisted United are destined for a bright future despite proving unfit for purpose over the past 10 months. But for long periods of the first-half until Spurs eventually seized control, it was a case of same old same old with the hosts starting brightly, missing chances and then falling behind to Kulusevski’s clinical strike.

Wes Foderingham, one of five players already confirmed to be leaving this summer ahead of a major rebuilding exercise, marked his final appearance between the posts for United by making a series of wonderful saves. But before denying the Swede and then James Maddison, he was powerless to prevent the Kulusevski’s low shot rebounding off the far post and into his net.

A collective lapse in concentration from the hosts set the whole move in motion, with Jayden Bogle robbed of possession by Micky van de Ven on the touchline before Son Heung-min, outwitting Anel Ahmedhodzic, worked the ball into Kulusevski’s path.

“It was all very familiar,” Wilder conceded. “The opening half an hour summed up our season. We were the better side, missed chances and then one mistake leads to another. We don’t have the personality to cope with disappointment.”

Despite also seeing Rodrigo Bentancur strike the woodwork, Spurs endured anxious moments themselves. Ben Brereton-Diaz, whose loan from Villarreal has been a rare positive for United this season, forced Guglielmo Vicario into making an acrobatic block. Cameron Archer, destined to rejoin Aston Villa following United’s demotion, missed a glorious chance to equalise.

The miss proved costly as Porro rifled home from distance following a scramble in the area before Kulusevski completed his brace after combining with Son and Maddison. United substitute Andre Brooks saw a late red card overturned following a VAR review after tangling with Son.

On that decision, Wilder added: “That’s the dark arts and nobody seems to be that bothered about it. I have to say, I don’t think it comes from their manager, it’s the individual and the environment they’ve been brought up with. You just have to accept it. It’s not for me and we just have to get on with it.

“Their manager is a great guy. I’ve followed his work in Australia, with Celtic and now down here in London. I’m not such he advocates that, because he’s a really straightforward guy. I really like him. I just can’t believe the referee made such a quick decision in the first place. He’s had to overturn his own decision and that’s just bonkers.”

With Spurs now travelling Down Under for a friendly against Newcastle on Wednesday, Postecoglou said: “We’ll use that time to reflect and sign off properly.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.