Three games into the new Premier League Season, and Spurs were in a cluster of teams at the top of the table who had a spotless record. Everything, to the outside, and even within certain inside eyes, looked rosey again, and there were even murmurs of another title ‘challenge’ (for want of a better word, meaning ‘being there or thereabouts’) again this season. However, analysing how Spurs have actually played this season, and their most recent performance, a pathetic defeat to Watford, makes for very different, and more concerning reading.
Let’s be honest, Spurs scraped a win again Newcastle on the opening day, winning by a solitary goal, and with the hosts hitting the woodwork twice in the second half. This was followed by an equally damp performance against Fulham, where only a stunning free kick from Kieran Tripper sparked the players into life to eventually come out 3-1 victors. This was followed by a performance against Manchester United which was far less flattering than the 3-0 scoreline, at Old Trafford. Being very lucky to go into the break at 0-0, a five minute surge at the start of the second half gave us the control needed to hold on and even grab a third late on. Needless to say, I was far from impressed with the team up until then, despite these three victories. And these concerns I had, manifested themselves, to the point of completely coming to fruition against Watford, where the players and manager got what they deserved, and lost 2-1 at Watford. Much blame came onto the form the players, for lacklustre performances, as well as Chairman, Daniel Levy for not investing in the Summer transfer window, leading to a complete inadequacy of game-changers to come off the bench and change the games for Spurs. However, one man who seems to be getting off lightly, to the point of sympathy, is manager Mauricio Pochettino. However, there are certain matters on and off the pitch, that can surely only be blamed on him.
Of course, people are going to look at the Chairman as to why no money was invested within the squad. It has been widely reported that because Levy was not willing to stump up the funds required to bring in Pochettino’s ‘first choice’ signings, with the eventual new stadium to be paid for, Pochettino would not settle for less, and therefore, no signings were made, so the squad is still as thin as it was last year, with no prolific striker, nor creative midfielder to bring on if we need a goal. Not just this but with the ‘top six’ rivals all having made significant additions, this is surely going to leave Spurs playing catch up. If Pochettino genuinely believes that his current squad is good enough for a title challenge and a solid run in the Champions League, given the fact that they were no where near last year, I am afraid that he is either extremely naive, or arrogant.
As a result of the lack of any depth of genuine quality, this has paved the way for complacency to come into play, with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli almost certain to start every game, despite their questionable levels of form. Between them this season, they have one goal. And when they make up half of the attacking four on the teamsheet, and this is a club pushing at the door of the higher echelons of European football, the form of these two are just not good enough. Yet, Pochettino still did not bring anyone in to give these two competition. Nor did he provide Harry Kane with adequate backup, yet again, despite another goalscorer being badly needed. The form of Fernando Llorente can almost be compared to that of his predecessors, Roberto Soldado and Vincent Janssen, who are not quite esteemed company. So with this apparent content at his attacking options, this basically means that Kane plays every game of every competition, doing nothing for his fitness, and when he does not play, taking away our only serious goal threat.
Pochettino earns plenty of plaudits for his well-known ‘father-like’ relationship with the players, as well as the energy and fitness with which the team play, but something which needs looking at is his managerial stubbornness, which is a contributing factor to holding the team back from the ‘top’ level.