Don’t get me wrong, he has done an excellent 5-year job, and we are grateful for what he has achieved at our club. But now we seem to have stagnated.
The rot started to set in at the end of last season. We had some silly defeats (Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth, to name but three). Granted we did well to get to the final in Madrid (even though all the big teams of Europe got knocked out earlier). But even that final there are question marks; such as changing the team from our brilliant win against Ajax and putting Kane straight into the side after coming back from injury and dropping our winning goalscorer from the starting lineup, a stupid mistake.
It is no good saying the team are “unsettled” when he is responsible for motivating them. It also didn’t help with some of his off the cuff remarks over the summer period. Is the pressure getting to him? I observe him close up and there were mixed messages. But whatever way you read it, something needs to be done and done quickly. We’ve got one of the best stadiums in Europe, but with a team that is struggling to fire on all cylinders.
He has been at the club for five years now and no silverware to show for it. There was all this talk about him joining one of the big European clubs, but usually when you go to one of those clubs, the manager has experience and many trophies behind him. Pochettino has nothing other than reputation that he is good with youngsters. The trouble is big clubs don’t just have youngsters, but highly volatile up-your-arse professionals who would quickly tell him where to go if they are not satisfied with what their manager is telling them. And would he have lasted so long at a top club if he hadn’t got anything to show for his time there, by now? Granted, there have been restrictions put on him, such as money having to be channelled towards paying off the debt of the new stadium. Still; he has bought well at the start of this season. Maybe it is just too early to judge and that I am being unfair, but unfair or not, we need to do something quickly otherwise we will fall behind… even – a possibility – struggling to get a Europa League placing. Our next match isn’t going to help matters either, we’ve got to go to Arsenal and salvage something there, and that won’t be a comfortable place to go to. Out of Arsenal’s three games, two were wins, the other they dropped points to Liverpool (not really a disgrace as they aren’t in Liverpool’s league and yes we want to put a distance between them and ourselves).
I can report that the day started off with everybody feeling confident and were resolute to build upon their last two matches. The talk of players being unsettled didn’t seem to show, from how I observed things. Granted, I did say that I saw mixed messages, but not on that day.
The Newcastle’s fans have used a fair amount of petrol in their two games this season (Norwich and Spurs), with a 516-mile round trip to Norwich last weekend followed up by this 560-mile round journey to north London. So you can understand their feelings when they visited our magnificent stadium: “Was it all worth it?”. In the case of their match against Norwich, no, but against us, most definitely.
Their Manager Steve Bruce was looking for a lift after beginning his reign with two defeats – and his players provided it for him and their supporters. Our travelling supporters (and they do travel to home matches, from all over the United Kingdom and throughout the world) also wanted a lift after our poor showing from last season in the League & FA cup Rds (in the League cup we got to the semi-final, only to shit out against Chelsea). Somebody had to walk away with nothing, but not for one minute did we think it would be us.
Newcastle produced a display of immense discipline on a sweltering day at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Their Dummett and his fellow centre-backs Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar working themselves into the ground. It was not just their defenders that worked hard, though – striker Joelinton showed he was willing to help at both ends of the field by getting back to head away two early Erik Lamela corners, and he ran himself to the point of exhaustion (poor lad), eventually coming off in the final moments with apparent cramp. I hope some of our players will take a lesson out of his book for the next match, even though the lesson didn’t penetrate them for this game.
What was so laughable was that Newcastle only had 20% possession, which meant we had 80%. In the early part of the game our visitors had to absorb plenty of early pressure from us, but it was a sign of how well they did that we managed just two shots on target.
Newcastle had the game’s first shot on goal, with Sean Longstaff’s rising drive tipped away by Lloris after Joelinton had held up the ball for him. Steve Bruce’s team was not thrown by the early injury to French winger Saint-Maximin, who pulled up in the first 15 minutes after chasing a Matt Ritchie’s free-kick, that ran out of play.
Newcastle’s manager will have been pleased that his players showed such a willingness to work for the cause – a characteristic that will be vital in the months ahead. And that is the characteristics we want, if we expect to finish the season on a positive note.
We have conceded the first goal in all three of our Premier League games this season. Even though we recovered to beat Aston Villa and drew at Manchester City, we couldn’t fight back against a team that, not only hasn’t won a match this season (until now), but will probably struggle all season.
We may well have had a case for a 78th-minute penalty as Lascelles leaned across Kane as he chased Lo Celso’s pass; with VAR official Taylor deciding to back referee Dean’s original decision. Even though we’ve been lucky, so far, with VAR, it is not our friend, it is nobody’s friend.
We didn’t do anywhere near enough to pick holes in Newcastle’s blanket defence until time ran out. We failed to register a single shot on goal until the 33rd minute, when Son was denied by Dubravka.
Should Eriksen have played from the start? Well, that was Pochettino’s judgement to make, and whether it was right or wrong, the result said that something should have happened to change things around.
Eriksen, whose contract expires at the end of this season, has made it clear he wants a new challenge – but while he remains with us, then the question for our manager has to be: Why not make full use of him? On that note, of Eriksen, are we really surprised that he wants a new challenge? Who next will realise that the only way they might get silverware would be to leave? I wouldn’t be surprised that Kane, Son, Alli and a few others are thinking along those lines.
Up next is Arsenal, lose that and we start to slide down the table. After them we will face Palace, who beat United at home. Then after that we travel to Leicester City. They who are fourth in the league, yes, above us (and haven’t been beaten yet). I don’t need to go on… I certainly don’t want to demoralise myself even further, let alone the reader. But I must be positive, let us hope the match against Newcastle was only a blip and that we will go out and face the Gunners with determination and steel… rock them so much that they won’t know what hit them. How about a 3-1 victory for us at the Emirates?
On the issue of Pochettino’s future; if the team continue to do badly then the cries against him will grow louder.
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