Opinion: A perfect storm

Image: SpursWeb

The international break is now viewed by the average club supporter as a dull and frustrating interlude that interrupts their season.  I usually wholeheartedly agree but am embracing the break this time.

Not only does it allow me a chance to sift through the wreckage that is Tottenham’s start to the season, it also gives me a Saturday afternoon not having to watch Soccer Saturday from behind the sofa!

The definition of a perfect storm is “an especially bad situation caused by a combination of unfavourable circumstances”

For me, this sums up everything about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. This article explores some of the key factors in the team’s sudden demise.

Firstly there is the apparent end of Pochettino’s ‘project’.  When Poch spoke of the possibility of leaving should the Champions league trophy be won most viewed this as the usual horseplay that he enjoys with the media.

I actually believe that there may have been some truth in this.

For those of you that have studied Bruce Wayne Tuckman’s 5 stages of team development (ok had to Google it!) Will note that stage 5 is Adjournment.

This is the stage where a project comes to and end where team members move in different directions and the team leader has the opportunity to celebrate the success of the project.

For whatever reason, this stage, although hinted at never arrived.  For players to be put in a bracket as being ‘surplus to requirements’ you need to be 100% sure that replacements can be sought. Aurier, Rose and Wanyama all fell into this bracket.

To go into work to be told you would be replaced by a better alternative should one be sourced must destroy confidence.

Even more bizarre is that 2 of these 4 are being asked to play and perform every week!

We then have the opposite scenario with Trippier.  A player we did manage to offload.  Here we had a player who cost us goals in big games last season but I’m not sure many Spurs fans would have sanctioned a very low 22 million fee with no replacement.  Trippier hinted at behind the scenes problems.

We then have Fernando Llorente. This scenario isn’t written about much but for me is synonymous with a haphazard approach to contracts that seems to have crept in recently.

For a player who played a massive part in the glorious run to the Champions League final to be presented with the offer of a new contract on significantly reduced terms is insulting and it’s no wonder he is now playing his trade in Italy (and enjoying early successes)

We then have perhaps what is viewed as one of major cause of the storm.  Messrs Eriksen, Alderweireld and Vertonghen.

I don’t think we can blame Levy for allowing their contracts to run into the last season.  It’s not for the want of trying.  With Eriksen he is simply following the Aaron Ramsey model. For Jan and Toby age is undoubtedly a factor in the clubs negotiations.

However, once Eriksen publicly declared his desire to leave , Spurs should have done everything in their power to sell the player.  How hard can it be? Chelsea managed it with Hazard.

The sell and rebuild model deployed by Liverpool with Coutinho, Van Dijk and Allison provided the perfect blueprint.

While I don’t subscribe to the fact that players deliberately set out to play badly (although the last few games have tested my beliefs) in a game of fine margins at the highest level commitment needs to be 100% to retain the edge required.

In addition, something obviously happened with Jan Vertonghen that caused him to be dropped for the first two games of the season. While I don’t believe its bedroom related I also don’t believe it was down to it being a squad game and not having room to play everyone.

Fans (myself included) were calling for Daniel Levy to break the bank and submit to whatever contract demands were being made by the two centre-halves, however their performances this season (albeit along with the rest of the team) haven’t been up to scratch.  Have the Management Team seen something we haven’t? What is becoming apparent is that the high line doesn’t seem to be suiting them.

Recent weeks have seen an abandonment of the policy of long contracts for players into their 30s with Sissoko’s new deal. One which most fans don’t begrudge but one that smacks of desperation not to experience this same situation again.

5-6 years is a long time for a team (sports or not) to be largely unchanged.  A successful team needs refreshing be it in ideas and/or personnel. People are pointing (maybe media conjecture) at the fact that players are finding Pochettino’s methods stale.

One thing is obvious however is an injection of talent could provide a similar positive effect.  This is what made Sir Alex Fergusson so effective in being able to manage the ‘cycle’. Often this included departures of high profile players seemingly at the peak of their powers.  He rarely got this wrong.

During Pochettino’s tenure recruitment has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. The mantra, due to financial constraints has always been to look for young potential rather than the finished article. But disappointingly for every Son, Alli and Alderweireld, there has been a Wimmer, Njie and Nkoudou. We are told we have a Lique 1 expert for a scout . We haven’t seen much evidence of this to date. Hopefully Tanguy will buck the trend.

If a couple of the flops had come good there wouldn’t be the need for such a drastic overhaul now. This is obviously compounded by a lack of activity over the last two windows that now looks to damaging.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the form of Davinson Sanchez. After a great breakthrough season he should be challenging Toby and Jan for a starting place. Instead he seems to have gone backwards and is resembling Sissoko prior to his renaissance.

So where do we go from here? Something needs to change. I still back Poch 100% but feel he needs to be backed by the board in January to actually and belatedly see through his painful rebuild. Put simply between now and January replace the want-away stars with want-to-be- there stars. One of the latter surely has to be Lucas Moura?  Maybe also blood a few young and hungry youngsters like Tanganga – it’s working for Chelsea.

I personally feel that Poch is the man to build a successful team again and while as fans we need to show patience, for the sake of our season we need to start to see the green shoots soon!

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  1. I agree with all of this, especially Moura. He is by far our top most under-utilized player. Given the opportunity, he always puts in a hard day’s work, he plays for the shirt and the fans, and he will only improve given more minutes. I also look forward to what Lo Celso and Sessegnon will bring to the club should they ever get fit for duty!


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