Tottenham Hotspur, current issues and my thoughts

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Disclaimer: In no way do I claim to be itk, these are my opinions, not facts or nailed on to happen

Another new season, another new era,  another new project, more new hope. This is becoming an all too familiar part of supporting spurs. However this time we hope our new man will be backed. Mauricio Pochettino is promising. However not the experienced, renowned manager some had hoped for. I for one will totally support and get behind this new man. Seeing how Southampton played under him has got me filled with excitement for the coming years (I hope that is indeed, a plural). High pressing, high work rate and hopefully high scoring, this seems to build on the football under Redknapp. However Mauricio does not have the tools of a Modric or a Bale, but he does have Van der Vaart’s successor in the shape of Christian Eriksen. Unfortunately Modric has no obvious heir, more on that later, Being optimistic we could say a fully settled Erik Lamela, with a summer of training at River Plate behind him and a compatriot as manager can begin to live up to his undoubted potential and start to fill the gaping, unfilled hole left by Gareth Bale. Our Argentinian acquisition brings us on to one of the most contentious issues at Spurs.

Summer 2013 Signings

Other summer signings (Eriksen and Lamela already covered); Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches look quite promising when fit and selected. Chadli looks like a decent squad player, which is not much more than you’d expect from a £7million buy. Furthermore from the ‘magnificent 7’; Paulinho is a proven player, who had a mixed season. But again needs more time, the step from Brazilian football to the Premier League, especially in the engine room of the midfield is large. Now coming on to the much maligned, but likeable and passionate Roberto Soldado. This man gives heart and soul and you can’t help but hope he succeeds and has shown flashes of his proven talent, maybe for his own sake its best he returns to Spain, where he is appreciated. Personally I would give him one more year to show what he can do on these shores. If its not to be then we can cut our losses after that.

Potential arrivals- summer 2013

For me the priority is a left back. Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg, who scored 5 and assisted 9 in the Bundesliga last season, would be my preferred (reasonably) realistic signing since Rose is not quite good enough, defensively or when delivering crosses. Marcos Rojo at Sporting Lisbon would also be a good option, able to shift into centre back in a match or even potentially as part of a 3 centre back formation, which could also suit Chiriches’, Kaboul’s (if he stays) and possibly Fryers’ pace

A centre back is also needed, ideally Lovren or Caulker (Why in god’s name did we sell him?!). Both are proven in the Premier League and an upgrade on the past his best Dawson (love his passion though) and more likely to be fit than the ailing Kaboul.

grid1

Although we are saturated with midfielders of a similar standard, Capoue and Sandro, or Dembele and Paulinho, we need a proper deep lying playmaker. A Modric. Although it would be tempting to go out and buy another I think we have two options there already. Lewis Holtby can do that job. He’s got the skill and vision and his stamina and passion would mean he’ll be able to stomach the midfield battle and not be useless defensively. However if deployed deep (presuming “Poch” sticks to 4-2-3-1) sees Dembele and Paulinho miss out to one of the destroyers; Sandro or Capoue. Also able to do the Modric job is Tom Carroll, however his lack of physical size and lower work rate than Holtby are question marks.

On the striker situation. The links with Romelu Lukaku are pleasing, however Bony could be a slightly cheaper and more realistic option, to join regardless of departures. If one of Adebayor or Soldado leave I’d like to see a young, up and coming striker, Batshuayi of Standard Liege or Origi from Lille would adding to the Belgian contingent, as well as bringing a more speedy option . Also a less well known purchase could be Equadorian Enner Valencia, so impressive for his country recently. At the time of writing 7 goals in 6 games. What we are obviously looking for is goals, pure and simple. However Soldado had an excellent season and we know how this season ended up for him.

Striker statistics and comment

Romelu Lukaku

2012–2013        West Bromwich Albion (loan)   35        (17)

2013–2014        Everton (loan)                          31        (15)

2010-current   Belgium                                   30       (6)

Great young player, however due to his Chelsea ownership could be very expensive.

Wilfried Bony

2011–2013        Vitesse             65        (46)

2013–current  Swansea City      34        (16)

2010–current    Côte d’Ivoire     24        (9)

Excellent option figure of £19million mooted, good deal in my eyes.

Michy Batshuayi

2011–   Standard Liège  90        (37)

(This season  18 in 29)

Very good young prospect, only Belgian league experience so far though, but a better record than Lukaku in that league.

Divock Origi

2012–current    Lille                 35        (6)

2012–   Belgium U19                19        (10)

2014–   Belgium U21                1          (0)

2014–   Belgium                       3          (0)

The most raw possible signing, impressive from what I’ve little seen an edged out Batshuayi from the Belgian world cup squad, not the greatest record though.

Enner Valencia

2008–2013        Emelec 131       (27)

2014– current  Pachuca 23        (18)

2012–   current Ecuador            12        (7)

Unknown quantity. Has caused defences problems, from the few games I have seen, excellent in the air. Could be a steal, but its risky buying on a reasonably short period of form.

Potential departures- summer 2014

Being objective I could add Lennon to the list as he has gone backwards, however as a fan, he was always my favourite player in my first years as a fan, so it would hurt to see him leave. Additionally Dembele, for me is too talented to sit on the bench, however his talent can be, at times unfulfilled. Maybe he needs a move to finally be the player that he so often threatens to be. However as another favourite of mine he avoids the list. Along with the previously mentioned Soldado. Additionally if we were just going on footballing ability Dawson would be off, but his passion and leadership seemed to be a rare commodity amongst current players. For this he stays, until new leaders establish their credentials.

Pochettino, why?

There’s the reasonably prevalent school of thought that an established, experienced manager (Van Gaal), however one of the few things I agreed with Sherwood about is that having people at the club who think they are doing Tottenham Hotspur a favour being at there can not occur. I can’t help but feel  a Van Gaal or an Ancelotti, for example could be like that. Frank de Boer was a different option. Although there seems to be little to choose between The Dutchman and the current Spurs manager, his only experience being in Holland would be a worry. The 4 titles in a row is impressive, but it was at the biggest club and best team in the country and they have had very limited impact on either tier of European competition. It also seems the old problem of potentially thinking “great player must be a great manager”, something that does not always happen.

In the space of a year and a half Mauricio Pochettino has gone from the lucky, unnecessary replacement to Nigel Adkins, to a coveted, fashionable manager. Taking Southampton from precariousness to security and safety and slightly more, finishing in 8th position with 56 points. Under him their ambition moved from staying in the league to qualifying for the Europa League. Of course, at Spurs, we would love to see such a (relative) change. However to get from 6th to challenging for the title will not happen so rapidly and it will be much  more expensive, we would require a substantial  net outlay (just regarding transfer fees, not wages) something not really seen with ENIC and Daniel Levy. However the expense of a new stadium would make this seem unlikely. This is where Pochettino comes in.

grid2Pochettino, what will he bring?

Main skills

  • Improving established players, such as Lambert, Lallana, Jose Fonte (all 24 and over when Pochettino came in). Imagine; Adebayor/Soldado, Eriksen and Vertonghen taking similar steps forward, a scary prospect even if they progress half as much as these players.
  • Bringing through and trusting academy graduates. Hopefully Fryers, Carroll, Bentaleb, Fredericks and Coulibaly can progress in a similar vein to Shaw (maybe a little hopeful), Ward Prowse, Chambers, and Sam Gallagher.
  • Helping young players, already in and around the first team turn from promising youngsters to consistent performers. If Lamela can see a similar upturn to Jay Rodriguez (at best average the season before last) his price tag could move towards being justifiable and Lewis Holtby can improve like Schneiderlin (although different types of player) we will have, what will feel like, 2 new signings and 2 very, very good players.

Playing style

  • A high pressing, high pressure, defending from the front style. This, accomplishable with very fit players can be undoubtedly effective when carried out well. Especially effective against the lower teams in the league, as well as top teams not playing at their best. The system often wins the ball higher up the pitch, leading to breaking quickly and with an emphasis on being attacking when the ball is won back or in possession. although the best players, a great passer or pact forward might be able to profit, they must be at their best to do so. Furthermore which football “philosophy” doesn’t have a downside?

However there are one or two potential issues:

  • Its a huge step up. 8th place was excellent for Southampton. Success at Spurs is 4th place or a cup win. Whilst avoiding disappointment (an ok season) will be competing for the Champions League and a smattering of good results against the top teams in the league. One of these should be achievable along as our new manager can handle the step up, the early signs are promising with an assured, confident first interview (and in English!) although little to go on it painted a picture of a man comfortable and at home in his new position.
  • Handling of big players/expensive signings. Although not his signing, Pochettino’s handling of Gaston Ramirez a talented, highly thought of players has left a little to be desired. The Uruguayan has not been happy under Mauricio, while a happy, firing Ramirez would have certainly helped Southampton and as we have previously seen losing the egotistic but gifted Adebayor due to a clash with the management cause a negative impact. Whilst his handling of egos, although none too obvious, except Adebayor could potentially be an issue. Related to this, the signing of Pablo Osvaldo, temperamental but on his day brilliant was questionable and his later shipping off (on loan) to Juventus could either be classified as a clever recognition of a mistake or weak, maybe pessimistic leadership. As an unashamed fan of the Argentinian I would probably agree with the former theory.

Hopes

Top 4, at least with the current squad seems a far fetched, however the ambition in the transfer market, building, not replacing will be important to determining our expectations. The aspiration will be a Champions League spot, but the expatiation could be very changeable.

After all that has happened in chopping and changing managers, it would obviously great to see our latest leader given time to shape the club with his own players, staff and implementation of his tactics. It would be great to see him given one season, no conditions to start this process (like Brendan Rodgers), the next one with realistic objectives, relative to how much our opponents strengthen. With his third season being Champions League or bust. However in reality, with the current chain of command, it would seem that the first or second season in the proposed cycle would be omitted.

What would be truly excellent would be sustained hope and positivity around the club, a good league season would cause this. But a trophy is becoming more of a priority. We don’t want a trophy drought like our gooner friends and it’s becoming a long time since 24th February 2008.

Prediction

To finish: A fun guess: W/D/L

16/08/2014   15:00   West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur W                                                                                                    

   23/08/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers W    

30/08/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool L

13/09/2014   15:00   Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur W

20/09/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion W

27/09/2014   15:00   Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D

04/10/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton D

18/10/2014   15:00   Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur L

25/10/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United W

   01/11/2014   15:00   Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur W

08/11/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City W

22/11/2014   15:00   Hull City v Tottenham Hotspur W

29/11/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Everton D

03/12/2014   19:45   Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur L

   06/12/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace W

13/12/2014   15:00   Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur D

20/12/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley W

26/12/2014   15:00   Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur W

28/12/2014   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United L

01/01/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea W

   10/01/2015   15:00   Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur D

   17/01/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland W

31/01/2015   15:00   West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur W

07/02/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W

   10/02/2015   20:00   Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur L

   21/02/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United W

   28/02/2015   15:00   Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur D

04/03/2015   19:45   Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City W

14/03/2015   15:00   Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur L

21/03/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City W

04/04/2015   15:00   Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur D

11/04/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa W

18/04/2015   15:00   Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur D

25/04/2015   15:00   Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur D

02/05/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City L

09/05/2015   15:00   Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur D

6/05/2015   15:00   Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City W

24/05/2015   15:00   Everton v Tottenham Hotspur D

W   D   L

20  11  7

Final points tally: 71

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my name is James Callender. I am 16 years old and live in West Yorkshire. I started supporting Spurs, since when Leeds were relegated some Leeds supporting family told me all their favourite players had gone to Spurs, including; Robinson, Keane and Lennon. So I made my decision based on that. The love has grown from there. I attend 2 or 3 matches a season, but buying a train ticket, and match ticket is very expensive. i am writing as a pastime, but may aspire to part or full time writing/journalism.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for reading, I apologise for any mistakes and if the tables are in wierd places. i've had to export from Apple to Microsoft and the mistakes are possibly a little careless, however I hope you enjoy the main body of the article. This is my first published piece, so please don't be too critical. Thank you

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