First and foremost, welcome back! I haven’t wrote in a very long time as I have been busy with my personal life and therefore I didn’t have the chance to publish anything whatsoever on my website. Christmas time is almost here and I thought it would be a fitting time to return to writing during this very busy festive period. In this article, I will be assessing what impact Mauricio Pochettino has had on Spurs since being appointed as head coach in the summer.
With Tim Sherwood being relieved of his duties after the end of last season, Daniel Levy appointed Mauricio Pochettino to take charge of first team duties after successfully luring him from Southampton – who notably experienced an excellent 2013/14 season under the Argentine’s stewardship.
Now that we are at the mid-point of the season, we’ve a rough idea of which direction Mauricio Pochettino is aiming to direct the club in. We’ve seen glimpses of Spurs players finally beginning to accept the Argentine’s philosophy and orchestrate it on the pitch. On several occasions, we’ve seen Tottenham grind out results in the dying minutes of games – Aston Villa (a), Hull City (a) and Swansea City (a) – just to name a few. We’ve seen our team perform poorly on so many occasions, yet they somehow managed to cling the points out of the hat – that is what all good teams do though, don’t they? We are only beginning to see the winning mentality that Pochettino is implementing into the players.
In contrast to what he accomplished at Southampton, we’ve seen Mauricio Pochettino also introduce youngster’s from the youth and help them to become an integral part of the first team. Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason and Harry Kane have all played an important role thus far in Spurs’ season. Harry Kane already has 14 goals to his name this season – 20 goals in 27 appearances for club and country (England U21’s). Impressive.
Having made his breakthrough last season under former head coach Tim Sherwood, Nabil Bentaleb’s aim for this season would’ve definitely been something along the lines of pushing on and becoming an important member of the first team – precisely what he is doing. At only 20 years of age, one of the youngest in our first team, Bentaleb looks like a player that has been playing Premier League football for a lot longer than he actually has. His passing is accurate more often than not and he is maturing very fast. In my opinion, he has the potential to be a future club captain. He oozes leadership qualities and considering that he is still at a very young age, you could see him giving orders to other players on the pitch and yelling out instructions – pleading some of the players that play higher up the pitch to help out with the defence when the time grows increasingly closer to the 90th minute mark.
Ryan Mason was tipped by many to never make it at Tottenham. However, after Pochettino introduced him to first team action, kicked off with a substitute appearance against Nottingham Forest (where he scored an astonishing goal to pull us level), he has been making consistent first team appearances. Since then, he went on to start in the North London Derby versus Arsenal and put in an amazing shift in midfield. Much credit has to go to Mauricio Pochettino for dropping some of our under-performing ‘stars’ and digging into our youth and introducing the players that know the true meaning of playing for Spurs – the players that have been here from a very young age and have a special place in their heart for the club. Players that know exactly what Tottenham Hotspur is about.
Like Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Kane was also introduced to the first team under Tim Sherwood last season and began to show promising signs for the future. He bagged a few goals towards the end of last season and Spurs fans soon started to see the true potential in Harry Kane. However, he began the new season only playing in the cup competitions for Tottenham and being seen as an alternative option up front to Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, but his run of scoring goals for Spurs whenever being selected to play has taken it’s toll and he is now one of the first names on the team sheet and a player that many fans are excited by whenever he gets on the ball.
Not only does Harry Kane have an instinct of sniffing out chances and being good in the box, he loves running around the pitch and helping his teammates at every possible opportunity. One thing that is missing from Harry’s game is his lack of pace, but his work ethic undoubtedly makes up for it. He’s always running after every loose ball and is always looking to storm into the box whenever he senses an opportunity for a goal. The makings of a proper centre forward.
Halfway through the season and we sit four points off fourth spot in the league, we’re in the last 32 of the Europa League and in the final four of the Capital One Cup. Not bad considering that we’re yet to hit top gear. Pochettino seems to have only recently found what his preferred first eleven is at Spurs.
With Christian Eriksen at the top of his game and Harry Kane notching goals for fun, playing the two players together seems to be bringing home the goals for Spurs. Long may this continue.
Nacer Chadli is another player that Pochettino seems to have gotten the best out off. Like Harry Kane, Chadli also has a few goals to his name – including a well taken finish at the Emirates to put us ahead. Compared to last season, Nacer has improved immensely – he has more goals and more assists already this season, than he had the whole of last season.
It wouldn’t seem right for me to finish this article without mentioning the club’s record signing – Erik Lamela. The Argentine endured an injury hit first season at the club. Many supporters already started to doubt the £30Million man.
Credit where credit is due, Lamela kept his head down and continued working hard to get fit for next season – being more determined than ever to prove his critics wrong. He also said himself that he never thought of leaving Spurs without making his mark in the most competitive league in the world. Since being appointed as head coach, Pochettino has given Lamela every ounce of his support. Having started the Argentinian in most league games this season, Pochettino has shown a lot of faith in Lamela’s potential.
Since then, Lamela has been frustrating to watch at times for some supporters due to his poor decision making. However, he is beginning to show glimpses of just why we paid £30M to lure him from Rome. In the early days of the season, his two brilliant assists versus QPR in our emphatic 4-0 triumph was one game in which he showed the supporters what he is capable of. His mouthwatering rabona goal against Asteras in the Europa League exemplified how much confidence he has gained over the past few months from his family, teammates, the manager and more importantly, the supporters who have offered him unbelievable support. His most recent MOTM performance versus a very disciplined Burnley side further covey’s the potential that the Argentine has to offer to the team. He scored his first Premier League goal for the club on Saturday. A brilliantly taken goal – a replication of the goals he scored for fun in Italy.
Perhaps a little too early to say that Lamela’s goal brought back a few flashbacks of a former Welshman who used to score similar goals for fun for Spurs a few years ago? Time will tell.
To conclude, things are shaping up very nicely. Although we have dropped quite a few points to the likes of West Brom, Newcastle and Crystal Palace at home, we’re beginning to see Pochettino’s philosophy taking its toll at Tottenham. We’ve seen him add home grown talent to the first team in the shape of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason and Harry Kane. We’ve seen the ‘fight until the final whistle’ attitude being shown by the players on several occasions already this season. We’ve seen players like Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela (slowly, but surely) improving every game and proving their worth. We are now beginning to look a lot more like Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur.