As a remarkable season for Tottenham draws to a close, which could potentially see them secure their highest finish in over half a century as well as qualifying for the Champions League, I look at what the North London club need to do in order to build on this season.
An obvious but vitally important thing the club needs to do is ward off other clubs from stealing their star players and manager. While I don’t think this is a massive issue considering multiple players have spoken about how happy they are at the club and their excitement towards club’s development, it doesn’t mean that players can’t be swayed by bigger pay checks or bigger clubs. The same goes for their manager Pochettino, who while has admitted that he has verbally agreed on a new contract securing his commitment at the club is extremely important to keeping Tottenham on the up. Both players and fans alike can see what wonders he has done for the club. The fact that the players feel so content under him means that he is a massive influence on whether they stay or go.
While Tottenham’s defence has been transformed this season with the addition of Belgian Toby Alderweireld and the conversion of Eric Dier into a defensive midfielder, Tottenham still need to strengthen in their replacements. Kevin Wimmer did an outstanding job when he stood in for an injured Jan Vertonghen, however Federico Fazio is definitely not good enough to come into the team if needed and also looks likely to be sold this summer. Even though Dier can play as a centre back, it is still important that another one is brought in, as Dier will also need to be rested in order to ensure we don’t burn him out and so it’s important to have another player to provide support.
One of Tottenham’s strongest areas in terms of depth of squad is in the full-back department. Both Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier are suitable back ups for Danny Rose and Kyle Walker respectively. All four can do a great job for Tottenham while also pushing each other to be better.
Hugo Lloris has been vital to Tottenham’s title campaign as he constantly makes important saves at least once a game. However his understudy Michel Vorm divides opinions between Tottenham fans. It’s an obvious statement but no back up is as good as the first team starter yet many fans expect Vorm to be just as good as Lloris. In addition, with an amazing goalkeeper such as Lloris, it’s difficult to not expect Vorm to be as in control as Lloris. While I do believe that Vorm is a good ‘keeper I question whether he is good enough to play in Champions League team, especially one which will attempt to mount title challenges alongside the Europe’s top competition.
An area which Tottenham need to improve is their defending of set pieces. None of Tottenham’s defenders are great in the air and they’re often bullied by the opposition. Height is not a problem with this team and so this is a strange problem to have. Tottenham have found a winning formula when it comes to their defence and so replacing any players just for this weakness would be harsh, yet it is a problem that needs working on.
To be frank, the centre of midfield is one of Tottenham’s weakest areas. While Dier and Dembele have been excellent throughout the season, there is a significant gap in quality between them and any back ups. Dier has missed only one game all season for Tottenham and that was due to a suspension. A huge factor of Dier’s success this season is that first and foremost he is a defender and so his first thoughts are always defensive – he doesn’t worry about producing an amazing pass to launch an attack but rather just to recycle the ball to an outfield player. It is vital that the back up brought in for Dier has a purely defensive mindset.
Dembele however has been vital to Tottenham’s ability to dominate the midfield, and the Lilywhite lack anyone who has the same influence on the game. When Dembele is removed from the game, a change can be seen in how Tottenham approach attacks. Dembele’s strength allows him to grace pass players and so allowing Tottenham to start attacks easily.
Heung-Min Son is a player who has divided fans this season. Son has shown glimpses of talent but lacks the consistency. His situation at Tottenham reminds me of Lamela’s not very long ago. During his first few seasons at Tottenham, the Argentine struggled to settle to the Premier League, however there was evidence showing that he eventually would, if given time. Like Lamela, Son battled with injury ruling him out of a section of the season, slowing down his impact on the team and knocking his confidence.
Another obvious thing the club needs to do is bring in back up to relieve the pressure from striker Harry Kane. While Kane’s ability is no longer questionable, there is still a chance of him suffering burn out in the Euros with England, especially considering he went to the respective U21 championship the previous summer. Yet while the striker that comes in to help Kane must be able to step in for him, he must also be able to play alongside Kane and impact games in which Tottenham may be struggling for a winning or equalising goal.
While Pochettino has done amazing things for the club there is still room for improvement. This season saw Tottenham drop points from winning positions, while they didn’t necessarily lose, they drew a lot and this played a deciding factor which cost them the title. Pochettino needs to come up with a back up plan for when Tottenham can’t find that winning goal. While this could be put down to the lack of options he’s had on the bench, Pochettino is reluctant to switch formations, often resulting in him making like-for-like substitutions and so not influencing the game dramatically. In addition, Pochettino’s timing with substitutions isn’t always great. It’s normal for the manager to make substitutions around the 80th minute meaning that the player doesn’t have enough time to settle into the game let alone impact it. Finally Pochettino must also work out a way to keep his tactics fresh and alive next season as other clubs will be aware of the threat Tottenham impose and which could put the club at a disadvantage if Pochettino doesn’t work out a way to combat this.
Here’s to an even better 2016/17.