Opinion: My thoughts on the Man City win – From Kane, to Nuno, to Steve Hitchen

Heung-min Son
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Let me start by saying how amazing it was to finally be back in the stadium. A near-full crowd singing their hearts out and supporting the team was incredible to see. It really felt as though the players were feeding off that too, running through brick walls by the end.

It’s honestly worth going through the performances player by player. The team as a whole was THAT good out there against the Premier League champions. After a dodgy first 15 minutes, we just wanted it more than them and never really looked like losing as a result.

Hugo Lloris still worries me when he looks to command his box, but beyond that he was amazing. He stayed sensible and kept his saves routine, not taking any chances. His distribution has also come on leaps and bounds recently. An aerial threat up front would help even more.

Japhet Tanganga, my MOTM by a mile. He didn’t let dangermen Sterling or Grealish have time on the ball, winning duel after duel. I have questioned his skills at right-back but he seems to be growing into it, even getting forward when needed too. Such an exciting performance.

The plaudits must be as loud as the disrespect for Dier and Sanchez. Many want one or both gone this summer but they put in a near-perfect display. The frustrating thing is that they have the attributes to be a great pair and really compliment each other, but consistency is key.

It seems as though Reguilon will be freed a little this season by a more defensive right-back, which suits his game. He was superb all over the pitch yesterday but I think his final third game lends itself to a striker as his crossing is his biggest threat.

Hojbjerg and Hojbjerg Junior (Skippy) played a blinder in that deep two. They are somehow similar but also complementary due to their all-around attributes. They break up play very well but can also both comfortably drive with the ball or pick dangerous passes.

I was worried for Dele after the first half because he seemed off the pace and was struggling on the ball. However, in the second 45, he just kept going and going. His 90-minute pressing was something new in that deeper role but it put City under such pressure.

The goals will come for Bergwijn, I’m sure. His effort, his pace, his dribbling… it’s all coming together. It’s just those big chances he needs to start putting away (Liverpool springs to mind). Once that clicks, what a player we have on our hands.

I don’t care what anyone says. Lucas Moura is class. Yes, he gives the ball away a lot, but that’s only because he attempts so many take ons. So often, he is the driving force through the middle of the pitch for Spurs and the main spark to get us into dangerous areas.

What is there to say about Sonny? The central striker role doesn’t suit him in terms of winning headers and hold up play, but once the ball is at his feet in the final third, it’s over. He’s so two-footed, Ake didn’t know where to send him. He is rising to the Kane mantle.

While I mention Kane, there are pros and cons to his absence. Spurs are a better team when he is there, but without him, we see this high press and high energy attack that he simply cannot do. This is something Spurs need to explore/work on, even if he does stay.

It very much reminds me of Liverpool and Coutinho. They sold their best player and knew they couldn’t replace him, so they changed up their style and adopted a high-press, high-energy, high-fitness approach, while investing in other key areas of the squad. Spurs, take note.

Kane is the best in the world at what he does. By definition, Spurs could not replace him with one player. And we aren’t even winning trophies with him. That all shows how spending the cash on 1 replacement would be a mistake. We need to invest in two/three positions if we sell.

Onto the formation. I really like this 4-3-3 we are developing. It lends itself to so many of our players. The midfield three is perfect for Hojbjerg/Skipp to hold alongside a creative force like Dele/Lo Celso/Ndombele. In smaller games, it can become one holder – two creatives.

Up front, like Liverpool with Mane, Salah, Jota, it becomes a fluid three who can each move and play in any of the roles, as we saw against City with Son, Bergwijn, and Moura constantly swapping around. This makes it so hard to track them and get a feel for them.

Defensively, I still have bad memories of the lop-sided back four under Mourinho. However, a defensive right-back and attacking left-wing-back would work much better in a 4-3-3 with an extra CM in there to cover left or push right. So I remain open-minded.

This win over City came without any of our new signings starting too. I still think Spurs will sign another defender and another attacker before the summer is over. If Nuno likes Son as a striker, the attacker will be a winger. If he sees him more as a LW, it will be a striker.

Looking at Nuno and his staff, I also loved the passion and guts on show. He waited and waited to make those first subs, which was risky but Lo Celso’s late energy was arguably match-winning. The videos of Paratici and Hitchen on the bench, that is passion from top to bottom.

Daniel Levy saw how much Man City need a striker yesterday. If Kane leaves (which I doubt this late in the window) it will be for a great price for Spurs. If he stays and Tottenham make two more signings, this could be a great year of building for the club.

I don’t think this will be our glory year, but let’s set the foundations, get back to the stadium, support the team, enjoy football again and, as Coytey would say, ‘Up the Spurs!’

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