What a great and a much-needed result against the Champions of England (again), and without Harry Kane (again)
If ever the Spurs faithful needed a result to kick-start their season it was today. Although we will never be sure of quite where Nuno was positioned on the managerial shortlist (if indeed he was even on it initially) we are led to believe by the media it wasn’t very high.
This lead to Spurs fans feeling as though we were somewhat scrapping the ‘managerial barrel’.
There are some reports that suggest Nuno was contacted early in the process but clearly this doesn’t make as good a news story!
So the affable, well-kempt Portuguese manager was on the back foot from the start not to mention having to deal with the Harry Kane transfer saga. To be fair he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He has already been note-perfect at all of the press conferences and compared to the volatile Mourinho should make the job of the PR team far easier this season.
More importantly, he already seems to have made an impression on the squad.
While much of the pre-match talk was around whether Kane would play, I don’t think this was ever an option. From start to finish it appeared that rather than be distracted, the team were determined to use the negativity to create a togetherness that seemed reminiscent of Pochettino’s Spurs.
The Spurs fans will never properly turn on Harry Kane until the position is known and transparent. He has been too good a servant for them even if the way this episode has been conducted is questionable to say the least.
Instead, they chose to sing ‘are you watching Harry Kane’. Maybe this was a please stay Harry look what you are missing? The message I took from this together with the electric atmosphere of a long-overdue full house suggests that no one player is bigger than the club and the great Tottenham Hotspur will live on.
Should a suitable bid not be received (I think it’s a done deal, however) and Harry is reintegrated into the team, this can’t be allowed to be at the detriment of the team spirit that was obvious today.
Onto the game and Spurs lined up with a 4-3-3. Starts were given to Oliver Skipp who returned a league champion from Norwich, Japhet Tanganga with the backdrop of the curious Galatasary loan rumours and Lucas Moura was finally given a chance to prove he can be a regular starter.
This looked like a formation that could work for Spurs and the personnel that they ‘currently’ have available.
Not only did Japhet Tanganga have one England international to mark he often had two with the duo of Sterling and Grealish to contend with. Perhaps benefitting from the extra leniency referees are set to afford this season a couple of strong early challenges set the tone for a fantastic performance. You could be forgiven for a quick glance at the dugout. This was obviously a tactic that our former manager would have approved of.
Gary Neville, who knows a thing or two about right-backs gave the youngster the man of the match award.
Following a difficult 20 minutes spell in the first half where City threatened to overrun Spurs they managed to get a foothold in the game and looked dangerous on the counterattack.
Once Son gave Spurs the lead on 55 minutes I was interested to see how they reacted. Under Nuno’s predecessor forays out of our own half would have been few and far between if we went in front. However today it felt like we were willing to be more progressive while still conceding the lion’s share of possession. It’s what City do.
Everyone played their part. Skipp looked tidy, Hojberg did what Hojberg does and there are signs that the arm around the shoulder is working for Dele who looked fit and hungry.
The running of Bergwjn and Moura caused City problems on the break with the latter still drawing fouls in the dying minutes. Most amusingly when he was taken down by Grealish who angrily remonstrated with the Brazilian. Pot and kettle was the commentators reaction!
It was a shame that Bergwijn’s second-half shot found the side netting but I thought he looked sharp and is a player I would like to keep. It was nice to see the warm applause when he was substituted midway through the second half.
Whisper it but Dier and Sanchez helped keep a clean sheet and did themselves no harm in the audition to partner Romero (who was given his debut late on and has been brought to the club to be a regular starter)
This however is one game and we mustn’t get carried away. It is always nice to beat Pep Guardiola’s City, especially without Harry! We may have been here before? But City will go on to challenge for the title no doubt. They were slow starters last year so maybe a good time to play them. As for Spurs all eyes will be on whether they can mount a challenge for a trophy and a coveted Champions League spot.
Son proved that he can lead the line, but even with Harry we are still short of a Central striker. There will be a temptation to fast-track Dane Scarlet but his development should be managed carefully this season, ideally via the cup competitions.
Perhaps the best signing of the window may yet prove to be the director of football Paratici. He will certainly have a busy few weeks pulling together all of the feelers he has put and hopefully bringing them to fruition. Ins and outs.
Finally, Son being last to leave the pitch having applauded all corners was very reminiscent of Harry Kane. Whatever the outcome it needs to be swift. I hope the Spurs hierarchy remains grounded and doesn’t get carried away with the result.
Failure to deal with this issue properly and not allowing enough time for a replacement could still derail our positive start to the season. We would dearly love Harry to stay unless we receive a bid that meets market value (Grealish £100m anyone) or he wants to stay. If not, in Son, Spurs have a hero who can help write a new page in the club’s history. COYS
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