About this time last year, I wrote a couple of pieces picking out players for whom 2013/14 was going to be a big season. Sandro and Kaboul needed to prove they could remain fit, Townsend and Holtby find roles suiting their talents and Assou-Ekotto and Livermore discover a way into Villas Boas’ good books. Well it didn’t turn out to be a stellar campaign for anyone in that list, including the manager, though you could argue that Jake Livermore got to really love his Tiger feet.
What about this year? Well it wasn’t just the half a dozen mentioned above that failed to make an impact in 13/14. Add six of the Magnificent Seven, throw in Rose, Naughton, Dawson, Lennon and the managers and that’s an awful lot of under achievers, an awful lot of players who we could and should expect more of.
So this year, it’s a ‘big season’ for who? Well virtually everyone. Arguably only Lloris and Eriksen could have smelly campaigns and come out of it with their reputations still intact. Walker isn’t far behind them; in my view he was our best player last year until his injury. Some might say Vertonghen but he had an up and down campaign and whilst he’ll be thrilled that the signing of Davies means he’s less likely to be shoved over to the touch line this time out, he needs to show far more consistency in form and attitude.
So whilst virtually the whole mob need to raise their games the three I’d pick out from the crowd as having reached a particularly significant part in their Spurs careers are Lamela, Kane and Mason. There are others of course, Soldado, Carroll, Sandro and Paulinho for instance but good seasons for these three are likely to mean it’s been a good season all round.
The Argentine has looked lost ever since the moment AVB brought him on at the Haemmerhoids last September. His first act was to chip a limp free kick into their box from about 40 yards literally seconds after coming on to the field. He can’t have had a clue who to aim for or what speed to fire it in at and that gives an idea as to what was missing coaching and man management wise if we were to get the best out of him. Injured and homesick, he was the Invisible Man after Christmas. The opposite is now the case. Whether it is something in his private life, or the presence of Poch or just a return to full health but he’s going to be a prominent part of our side from Saturday onwards, cutting in from the right he’ll either be shooting or making space for the speed of Walker behind him. If he does well, he’ll have an impact that you’ll be able to measure in the goals column. If he struggles – and he’ll get hacked down and double marked there’s no doubt – it’ll be a massive step backward for him and for us as a club – he’s our most expensive signing after all.
People have written off Harry Kane ever since he made his first team debut in August 2011, a full three years ago now. Many knew of his goalscoring reputation, I think it’s fair to say though that few were impressed when they saw him for the first time. If you were expecting a lightning quick will ‘o’ the wisp with a turn of pace and a trick or ten up each sleeve you would’ve been disappointed. Kane’s goals come from strength, opportunism and a clean strike of the boot. He’s 21 now and obviously more man than boy when compared to when he made his debut. Sherwood gave him his head for a while last season and he did well. Three goals in successive games will have given him confidence and the knowledge that he can succeed at this level. The people ahead of him, Soldado and Adebayor, have their own questions to answer. Kane will know that he starts at number three in the pecking order but he also knows that he’ll get his chances, off the bench and in the cups. He’ll see it as a break through season.
Ryan Mason has been lauded as one to watch for many a year now. But he’s 23 and has just 4 cup appearances to his name at Spurs so if he’s going to make a name for himself it must be soon. He’s spent his years on loan at Yeovil, Millwall and Swindon or recovering from injury after injury. He’s back at Spurs now and fit (though he missed Schalke). Pochettino used him in the US and also Helsinki and one can only imagine that he liked what he saw. Mason is a lively skilful attacking midfielder/number ten type of player with a keen football brain and an eye for goal. He’ll know that this season is make or break. For once he’s neither on loan nor seriously injured (I hope), plus he’s got some first team games under his belt preseason. We could do with him coming through. Christian Eriksen is out on his own in his position, some back up is needed. Lewis Holtby is the obvious replacement but all being well Mason will get run outs in the cups and start to establish himself. He’ll be encouraged by the chances Townsend, Kane and Rose have been given but what’s more it’ll do us as a club the world of good to see him come through.
As stated at the beginning, not many of the players will look back at 2013/14 with much fondness, here’s hoping that these three and many others are looking back with more pride in a year’s time.
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