Levy and Poch: The Real Construction Project

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

One can only hope and trust that what is rising just north of White Hart Lane is under sound management and will debut in 2018 in a manner that befits such a grand endeavour. For it is the second of two major construction efforts, the first of which is paying off in ways that even the most ardent Lilywhite supporters could hardly have dreamed.

Consider the current team, and how it got there.

GOALKEEPERS: Credit Daniel Levy on this one. He found a world-class keeper in France in 2012, and has kept him for the forseeable future. Lloris’ immense qualities are hardly limited to the pitch—as he now captains two of the best sides in the world: one each for club and country. Michel Vorm is a solid back-up who saved at least three points when Hugo was out early in the year. And Pau Lopez is clearly being groomed to take over that role when Vorm leaves, probably after this season;

DEFENDERS: Our two pacy fullbacks were hatched by Levy but have reached, and perhaps exceeded, their potential under Pochettino. Walker and Rose are an integral part of what makes this team click—if Spurs are to win a league title or go deep into the Champions League knockout rounds, the impact from those two outside forces will have been huge. Credit both director and manager for attracting two quite reliable back-ups in Trippier and Davies. In the middle Poch must receive most of the credit for snatching Toby Alderweireld from his former team (though the two actually didn’t intersect on the South Coast) and helping Jan Vertonghen reach a peak that a couple of patchy seasons, including forced action at left back, seemed to be preventing. They are quite simply the best central pairing in the Premiership, these Belgian Waffles, and the days of witnessing all-too predictable lapses in the middle are as distant as Danny Rose’s penchant for red cards. Carter-Vickers is an academy product with great promise. Kevin Wimmer was yet another largely ignored but wise acquisition to provide back-up—as he did for many weeks last season with Vertonghen out. The clearest thing to be said about the Back Four is there has been nary a slip-up both on and off the pitch since Pochettino arrived;

MIDFIELDERS: Dier is another joint project where Poch’s realization that the young Englishman could play a holding midfield role after he began his Spurs’ career as a right back has made all the difference. Credit Levy for acquiring Mousa Dembele from Fulham way back when, but again give the manager credit for bringing the best out of another Belgian. They both get the plaudits for yet another Southampton piracy in Wanyama—Morgan who??—and after a variety of misfires (Capoue, Paulinho, N’Jie) the attackers now seem settled as well. Eriksen and Lamela were the prizes in the Bale haul and have each become an integral part of our strike force. While each side—club and player—may have wavered about Heung-Min Son this summer, his value has been confirmed in dramatic fashion. Sissoko and Nkoudou appear primed to provide just the pace, spark and depth that a too-thin attack from last season could not. And Dele Alli might simply have been the best promotion of a League One talent in recent memory—well, at least since Jamie Vardy. Whether or not Tom Carroll will persist, or Harry Winks or Josh Onomah will advance matters less than the fact that the eight players above them are all significant contributors and have raised the overall talent level of the midfield to a place at least equal to that under the likes of Bale, Modric and Van Der Vaart. It took a while but Levy and Poch have gotten there;

STRIKERS: Perhaps the one remaining question mark. Son’s ability to be slotted as a False Nine shows that Pochettino cannot be pigeon-holed into just a 4-2-3-1 commitment. I’m not sure anyone at the club—even Tim Sherwood—truly knew what they had with Harry Kane, but once Levy and Poch did, their backing of “OOOO” has been resolute. After the failure with Soldado and the lingering dalliance with the mercurial Adebayor, one hopes that in Vincent Janssen they have found the right counter-balance, able to substitute successfully but also join forces in more of a 4-4-2 set-up upon occasion. And one must wonder after all the swirl of Kane’s last 30 months, just what we will see in a month’s time when he returns.

But if all that Levy and Poch have done produces only a bit of concern about the striker position, and features reliable, deep and blossoming contributors everywhere else, one must marvel at what this partnership has produced. It may be that in a few years’ time—after the stadium has opened—Barca or Madrid or even Manchester United will come calling for the manager. In some ways we should hope they do, for it will almost certainly mean success at the highest level for Spurs—beyond almost all the fondest hopes one could have entertained back in 2014. And if instead we have a “mini-Wenger” on our hands—willing to stay for another several years and see this grand experiment out, well so much the better.

They have built wisely, my friends. Revel in the spoils.

 

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Ridiculous article. Levy has been not been responsible for any players signed, they have been identified by scouts and previous managers. However, Levy has been responsible for failing to bring in players wanted by managers by effing up negotiations or coming up with sensible fees!

  2. This job is every bit as big a job as the one Ferguson took on at United – making a sleeping giant former member of the Big Five competitive again at the highest level. Anyone who says otherwise has no understanding of football history. The equivalent, to what we are hearing now, would have been if anyone and everyone had went on and on when Ferguson joined United that he should have waited for Anfield as it was a much bigger job. Or after he had won a few trophies he should have switched to Anfield as it was a much bigger job.

    I don't care if United come in for Poch in the future – it would most likely mean we had been successful and they hadn't. But with the second biggest stadium in the country, one of the best training centres in Europe, one of the best youth sit-ups, and his own squad that he has built and honed for purpose for long-term sustained success that is a project he has worked hard for and believes in, I would hope both he and Levy would tell United to jog on!

    As for Barcelona, Poch is an Espanyol man – and he probably wouldn't get time. Real Madrid would have him sacked before he had even assessed the squad he inherited!

    He's said he wants to be at the Lane for the long-term and build a footballing dynasty – much like Ferguson and Wenger.

    • Don't be fooled by the recent successes. The Lilywhites are known to flatter to deceive. We need a consistent run of victories over the serious contenders such as Man United and Chelsea. I have never been a fan of Levy who over the years of his reign has seen him horse trade with some of our best players and sack some of the potentially excellent coaches. For me Poch and his assistants have got the team to gel and his game plans are clinical and strategic. He is one of the very best coaches presently in the EPL. I doff my hat to him.

  3. And Gary Neville says Poch is doing a dress rehearsal for a big job. Well Mr. Neville, yet another biased pundit/failed manager let me say, why would he give up a club that is rising to become a massive club with huge new stadium built up by himself, successful with great team to move to a failing/falling ex big club with a media baying for his head after 3 losses? It defies logic and doesn't do these so called pundits any favours and is just wishful biased thinking coming out when another team threatens the establishment.

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