Pochettino is at a crossroads, he must choose the right road

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

How do you analyse a performance like Saturday’s, what do you call it? Abject, feckless,toothless. Don’t get me wrong City are a very decent side, for the £500m+ they’ve spent since Pep arrived they’d want to be (that debate is for another day) but what struck me more than anything else was the absolute lacklustre, lack of belief and almost “down tools” performance of our extremely talented side.

Yes we can cite injuries to Alderweireld and Wanyama etc as big issues but that team Pochettino sent out on Saturday should be more than capable of going toe to toe with City or at least giving them a decent game. Honestly the 4-1 scoreline flattered us it could’ve and probably should’ve been way more. But for some wasteful City finishing and Hugo Lloris it could’ve been a cricket score.

Defensively we were all over the place, Trippier we know is no Kyle Walker, but is a quality player with an often pin point accurate cross but he was desperately poor on Saturday. Sané toyed with him all evening long like an animal with his prey. It was like Tripps completely abandoned his defensive duties all together. The hardest thing to fathom was that he stayed on the field for the whole ninety minutes.

Mousa Dembele, poor old Mousa, not even the thoughts of finding £1m of hidden treasure could perk him up. He’s become that sort of classic car that you’ve had since your late teens, you know it’s performance is not great, it won’t bring you on the journeys it once brought you on, you want to remain loyal but you know it’s time to park in the garage, to maybe give it the occasional outing but perhaps it’s for the knackers yard.

Dele & Christian are the biggest concerns in my opinion. Despite his consolation, Christian has been below par on more than one occasion.Saving his best performance in single handedly breaking Irish hearts in the World Cup playoffs. One of the most naturally gifted players at the club,however he sometimes gives this sort of off feeling that he isn’t bothered, that if it’s going our way he’s happy to take the plaudits and perform to the best of his ability but when we are up against the cosh he can be like one of them employees that might say, “Well im not doing that, it’s not in my job description” he just doesn’t muck in enough for me.

Now Dele, that’s the strangest one of all. There has been countless ideas banded about what has been the reason behind his lacklustre displays. It’s hard to fathom. He’s lost that swagger, that cheeky chappie persona. Yeah it was immature at times but when he hit full tilt, a joy to watch. People will say it’s the whole agent thing, and I’d perhaps agree if this was over a shorter period, and it seems to be sorted now, but we are almost half way through the season and it’s continued. His performance on Saturday summed up his season and he was lucky to stay on the field.

Now I broach this final bit with caution and please hear me out. Mauricio Pochettino has done terrific work and with more success comes inevitable expectations, however I feel he’s now at a crossroads in his Tottenham Hotspur managerial career. He has been firmly in control of the club as far as I can see from top to bottom and it showed. Everything was polished, players toed the line, Daniel Levy had found someone who shared his vision. However this year something has changed. The wheels aren’t off, but there are a few loose nuts. People will point to the late business in the window and of course blame Levy, when in fact those arrivals should’ve complemented a squad that had already finished 3rd and 2nd in previous seasons.Yes Walker was gone, but Trippier had shown he was more than capable.

Alderweireld’s injury has hit us hard but what is the point of having Juan Foyth if you are not going to give him game time. Sitting on the bench is teaching him nothing and surely ninety minutes alongside Jan Vertonghen would be beneficial. At least start him, if he has a mare then change it. It’s clear Eric Dier is far more effective in midfield than he is at the back.

We return to Saturday, and the whole Trippier thing. I lost count of the amount of times the full back was caught out of position. Was he told to stay as high up as he was? It was clear, even to the three blind mice, that he was getting destroyed, but he was given no help whatsoever. Instead of changing it, Poch stuck with it. Keeping to your principles is admirable, but it can be ignorant. It wasnt working, that was clear from the off but you must have a Plab B, c and right up to Z.That sort of game will have seriously disheartened Trippier. I will criticise Poch for that, yes Tripps was out classed but he was so over exposed. The City side are good, very good but as Son pointed out they are “only human” and our talented squad are much more capable than they showed.

The whole wages thing is perhaps a bigger problem than people (including myself) think, not the route of it all, but a problem none the less. The idea is of what we do is admirable, in fact it should be appreciated but alas modern football dictates differently.

Imagine  a situation if you will. You are very good at your job, so good that you’ve represented your country several times, then another boss in your industry comes along and says “hi there my name is Sheikh McMoneybags. Come join me, I will pay you three times what you are paid now, your co workers will be better qualified and skilled and your new manager is a serial winner and one of the best at his craft”. Would you seriously or realistically stay in your old job, knowing you could change your quality of living to unrecognised levels and the fact your career has perhaps 5 good years left and the opportunity may not present itself again. You’d do it and no one could blame you.

It would be naive to think that it’s not entered the players thoughts. Harry Kane is loyal because the club is in his heart but to most of the rest of them, it’s just a job. Loyalty in life is to yourself first and foremost.

Pochettino and his management team really have to address what is going on, going in to our new stadium without Champions League football would be almost disastrous, he somehow has to re-instil confidence fight and heart back in to his players. The players need to get that swagger back. Don’t get me wrong I love Pochettino, but he can’t be immune to criticism, he can’t be always looked at with blinkers on or the proverbial rose tinted spectacles.

The public dismissing of the domestic cups was a huge mistake, privately do what you like, but publicly you are telling your players not to bother. I get the idea, but it was a reckless statement. For a manager that has won nothing it was ignorant and honestly a hugely stupid attitude to take. If anything play the likes of Shashoua, Edwards,Sterling, Roles , any of the youth lads a chance, give Foyth a taste of English football. Did Fergie, Wenger, Mourinho any of them dismiss the league cup so flippantly? Yes they may have thought it a pain but they respected it and sent a decent team out. League and Champion League are the priorities yes, but it was a poor decision to dismiss the league cup so easily.

For me he’s at crossroads. We are standing still right now in real danger of going backwards. It’s a massive period coming up over Christmas, starting with Burnley next Saturday. He’s going to have to sort his men from the boys and make some tough decisions. And it would be naive of the club to not spend in January. It needs freshening up.
Pochettino is a good manager, but managers (and clubs) are measured by success. We can’t be the nearly men that gave it a good go, this team right now is reminding me of the Golden Generation England team of a few years ago. The one that had Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry etc

Undoubtedly very talented, but believing too much in its own hype. We can’t be remembered as the nearly men, we have stood still while the others have caught us and we will get left behind.We need to show ambition, not dismiss trophies, and we must start paying the market rate on wages or we will be forever used as a stepping stone. Levy does need to do his bit, but Pochettino needs to address on field failings and fast.

Having a shiny new stadium with out Champions League football would be disastrous. Poch often talks about philosophy, well right now he needs to dare and to do and fast.

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  1. I strongly agree about Foyth.

    Going to Man City without Alderweireld, Sanchez and Wanyama, left Spurs exposed. Putting Foyth in as a third centre back would have helped to stifle their attacks.

    The reality is that Pochettino does not give enough chances to young players. Winks is the only current player in the first team, who Pochettino personally promoted from the academy.

    Pochettino prefers to play the expensive Sissoko, than to give an academy player a chance. Is Aurier really any better than Kyle Walker Peters?

  2. Can't agree more with was said.
    When Foyth was brought I thought that he would be a regular in the back line and then give Dier his position just in front of the back three back as that where he works best,but Foyth hasn't been used and why???
    I have total faith in Poch but something needs to be done to stop this train de-railing.

  3. Hi Shane,
    You are spot on and I would like to say that what is happening to Spurs now is of Poch's making. Wrong team selections, tactics and loyal to some players who aren't doing it for the club.His team selection is as bad as when we played Liverpool at Anfield when they should have scored 7 goals but only got 2 and playing Son at left back against Chelsea in the FA cup semi. Tactically he is poor because any body playing against city the best attacking team in the country maybe europe needed to shore up the defence but he went gong ho trying to outscore city and it backfired. Look what I would have done is to stick to our usual 3 at the back with Dier, Vertongen and Davies, then buch up the midfield with Aurier,Rose, Debele, Sissoko and Erickson and finally play Son or Ali as a floating player behind Kane. This game does not suit Winks we needed physical players like Sissoko and we needed to counter the wing threat from city by playing Rose and Aurier who both are quick and strong to stand there ground.

  4. For Poch to blindly continue with his ‘philosophy’ of attacking football, with the players he had on the field, and the weaker defence available to him, was ignorant. It was certainly not clever or admirable. That’s why we never win anything! Needs must. Could someone explain the ‘philosophy’ behind this phrase to Poch.

  5. What ya folks talking about? We had Toby and Wanyama in the starting line up and we were beaten 3:0 in the int. champ. cup so what have you expected? No players, no party and our transfer policy is worth a fart!

  6. A headless-chicken kind of article. Dispiriting too as the reader recognises some of the blokey workplace expressions derived from the gabby presenters at Talksport, and the stances they adopt as shock-jocks trying to get a telephone-reaction. Though for some reason, "putting in a shift" gets omitted. Otherwise, every box in Talksport-bingo could be ticked.

    So Pochettino is at a crossroads, is he? Well he wasn't at one Saturday before last when Spurs won 5-1. Nor in midweek when Spurs won 2-0. Achieved despite injured stalwarts, and others playing soon after injury, and formations having to be rearranged to cope never mind have Spurs at their very best when all are available. Aurier is available, and Ben Davies, Kyle Walker Peters too, and Sanchez returns from suspension, so coming games should feel less stretched at the back. The much-missed Lamela has returned and is getting minutes of game-time, and Victor Wanyama having begun group training is an encouraging sign. What's good about Pochettino is that he is charming with the media, but not in its pocket despite a media obsessed with him. And above all, no headless chicken he, but a cool football brain and a bit of heart, that makes him the kind of fellow players want to be guided by and play for.


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