What more evidence do we need that the Mauricio Pochettino era is winding down, perhaps much more quickly than we all thought. Before I get to the indignity of losing to Colchester (and it is somehow fitting that the same Lucas Moura who delivered us the most wondrous victory of this era hits the bar and seals the most humiliating defeat) let us review the evidence.
Poch said we would have walked if we had beaten Liverpool in Madrid (Sky Sports). He took the loss hard, barely leaving his home for two weeks afterwards. In the summer he complained about the transfer policy/decisions and suggested his job title should be changed (Sky Sports).
Lately he has discussed his “dream job”—the Argentine national team (TyC Sports) and, on Monday, the fact that he wants to manage at Real Madrid (why would they hire him now?) “some year” or “one day”, depending on the translation (The Sun).
His players either aren’t listening, don’t want to be here, or have simply passed their peak in this particular location and can’t perform as they did two or three seasons ago. We haven’t won a game away from home in England for nearly 9 months. Our Premier League record for the equivalent of nearly half a season now (and man united share this distinction) is that of a team barely above relegation quality.
A famous USA football coach used to vociferously claim, when a given team was supposedly underperforming or running into bad luck, “you are what your record says you are”. The record says we have become a mediocre club, but for a few games last spring when fortune wasn’t always hiding. There is realistically only one trophy now to play for this season—and that competition doesn’t even begin for more than three months for our big (in name only) and powerful (ha!) club. Off the results over the past month, we will be very fortunate to advance past Group Stage in the UCL this year, and if we do, surely a deep run is not in the cards this season.
I don’t question what Poch tried to do last night—and given that almost none of us saw the game, maybe the play was better than it seemed. But a midfield pairing of Wanyama and Skipp was never going to threaten—it was left to Dele, Lucas and a 17 year old kid to score, and they couldn’t. Then for a quarter-hour we had Eriksen, Son and Lamela joining those two experienced attackers and it was Colchester, not us, who had the better opportunities to win before penalties. By the time the kicks began it was hard not to root for the League Two minnows—what a night for them, and we weren’t going to go far in this competition anyway.
The saddest part of all this is that things have gone belly-up right as we would all like to enjoy the sparkling gem of a new stadium. It is now the ultimate mirage, isn’t it? The players aren’t good enough to equal its ambition; the manager has lost his Midas touch; surely the transition to some new group of Spurs will occur with haste—but as necessary as it might be, and as hopeful as one could be about its outcome, surely there will be a delay of at least one season, maybe more, before we can ever dream of approaching the domestic heights of 2016-18 and perhaps never for the European glory of last spring.
This is all going to end badly, I’m afraid. Lloris, Kane, Eriksen, the two Belgians, Danny—all of them could be gone within a year. The promise was there—and the instant Sadio Mane sent that ball toward Moussa Sissoko, it went poof! Like Keyser Sose—it was gone, never to be seen again.
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