Opinion: A tale of two substitutions

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Image: SpursWeb
One of the most embarrassing situations a player can find themselves in, is when they come on as a substitute and are taken back off.  The other is to be the victim of a first half substitution.
 
Sadly for Eric Dier he fell foul of the latter and was taken off after less than 30 minutes against Olympiakos. Spurs were two nil down at the time, probably deservedly so with the visitors displaying energy and class in equal measures.
 
Spurs frankly were not and their performance was the polar opposite of their Greek opponents.
 
What made the decision even more bizarre was that the incoming player was a certain Christian Eriksen.  The player that has made no secret of his desire to leave Spurs for a new challenge.
 
A master stroke or a desperate throw of the dice? Was this the implementation of a plan B that some supporters claim Pochettino didn’t possess? One thing is for sure, the Jose Mourinho era had begun.
 
The change however seemed to spark Spurs into life and injected some much needed tempo. Although with his current status he is afforded little margin for error by the fans, even the fiercest of critics must admit that the Dane played better than of late. Albeit his performance was still littered with misplaced passes that a couple of seasons ago would not have been part of his game. 
 
Eric Dier will come again and I’m sure will be a key part of the managers plans. 
 
What is obvious from the first 30 minutes is that Mourinho faces the same rebuild as Poch. Albeit the change of manager and rejuvenation that this usually brings may make it slightly less painful.
 
What will be interesting is how much money Mourinho will have to spend. I have a sneaky feeling that he may just want to prove the critics wrong and win something without spending vast sums. A final tick on the CV. Time will tell.
 
One thing is for sure is that Mourinho’s week in charge has had a positive effect on Messrs Sanchez, Aurier and Dier.
 
Sanchez has begun to display some of the qualities that we saw two seasons ago, but still the concern is if he possess the positional sense and composure when faced with world class strikers.
 
Aurier is noticeably playing further forward under Mourinho and his improved performance was rewarded with a goal right ‘from the middle the bat’. He also seemed to display much more composure and wasnt as reckless in the tackle as has been known in the past.
 
Then there is Dele Alli. His record in previous seasons has been superior to Lampard and Gerrard at a similar age. Sadly he has suffered with recent injuries and also a loss of form.
 
Just as Mourinho did when joining Chelsea for the first time with Lampard, he has clearly identified Dele as one of his talisman.
 
There was the light hearted questioning as to whether it had been Dele’s brother in the side recently and also the fact that Dele appeared alongside his manager at the pre-game press conference.  All a very public display of the positive man management that we know the new boss can demonstrate.  
 
However we also know too well that there will be casualties and players who don’t fit with his way of playing will be jettisoned.  It was therefore pleasing that Sissoko got some minutes tonight as he was the early candidate for the ‘Paul Pogba’ award.
 
Back to the game and although early days Dele seems to have found his swagger again.  His goal before half time changed the course of the game and visibly lifted both him and the team.
 
This leads us to substitution two.  When Dele was substituted on 80 minutes, the new rule meant that he had to leave the pitch at the nearest point.  This conveniently took Dele past the shelf side and in front of the south stand. Both of which had also slowly rediscovered their mojo as the 2nd half progressed.  
 
The standing ovation will have provided a much needed confidence boost for the Spurs midfielder.  It felt like this could be the key turning point of his season. 
 
So the rollercoaster ride that is Jose Mourinho has started. The 7 goals scored in two games has given supporters hope that the ‘dull’ football often associated with Mourinho may not be wholly accurate.  The 4 goals conceded will have made the boss very angry!
 
While the managers appointment was met with some opposition on social media there were very few mutterings of discontent this evening. 
 
Interestingly the expected show of affection for the outgoing manager didnt materialise but at the same time the Mourinho chants didnt catch on either.
 
Maybe this was as a mark of respect for all that Pochettino and his team gave us and also the fact that’s it’s very early days.
 
While it may take a while for Mourinho to win over the fans this has a different feel to when George Graham joined Spurs having managed a bitter rival.  There is still a belief among some Spurs fans that Graham never truly ‘wore the pyjamas’
 
Mourinho’s CV is littered with silverware and he is a winner. This isn’t lost on the Spurs fans. Their disappointment in the sacking of Pochettino is more reflective of the esteem in which they held their best manager for a generation.
 
A number of Spurs fans realised something had to change.
 
While history suggests the Mourinho reign will ‘end in tears’, one things is for sure, there won’t be dull moment!

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