The Mauricio Pochettino era hasn’t exactly got off to the smoothest of starts at Tottenham Hotspur.
While Spurs fans were hoping to put the misery of last season behind them – in which they found out that replacing a world-class footballer is not the easiest of tasks – their current Premier League campaign has so far bore a worrying similarity to it, what with the demands of Europa League participation having an adverse affect on their domestic duties, a lack of potency in attack and an inability to record victories over the established Champions League sides.
Nevertheless, this is not to say that Pochettino – the man brought in to take over the managerial role at White Hart Lane in the summer – is doomed to meet the same fate as his predecessors Tim Sherwood and Andre Vilas-Boas.
There are signs that the new boss can lead the North London side onto the right path; here are FOUR things that Spurs fans should be optimistic about for the remainder of the season:
He may not have handed them their first starts for the Lilywhites – messrs Sherwood, Villas-Boas and Redknapp can be thanked for that – but Pochettino has certainly shown faith in the young trio of Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb this season.
In fact, Kane has arguably been the stand-out performer for Spurs so far, leading their goalscoring charts with 11 in 16 appearances. Pochettino has also been impressed with Mason – who is back at his boyhood club after a number of loan spells in the Football League – while Bentaleb played the whole 90 minutes in Tottenham’s recent 2-1 league victory over Everton.
Some Spurs fans would argue that Pochettino is not handing Kane enough starts, however he may simply be easing him into the first team. Besides, the fact that three academy graduates have managed to break into the senior squad is surely a sign that the club’s youth development system is in a healthy state.
While Pochettino was well-known for favouring a high-intensity, high-pressing style of play at Southampton, his players at Tottenham initially struggled to adapt to the Argentinian’s demanding methods, especially when faced with three fixtures in the space of a week.
However, the defeat of Everton – a team who are themselves intense pressers under Roberto Martinez – suggests that the squad is beginning to warm to the manager’s philosophy. It may take some time yet, but Pochettino has proved on the South Coast that his approach can be successful, and with an abundance of technically gifted players at his disposal, there is no reason why this cannot also be the case at the Lane.
Most Spurs fans would have acknowledged that qualifying for the Champions League in his debut season in charge would have been asking a lot of Pochettino, yet with their rivals all struggling to hit form, Tottenham may view the current campaign as their best chance in a while to sneak into the top four.
Liverpool and Arsenal have both been poor, Everton are failing to hit the heights of last year, Manchester United still seem weak in defence and Southampton are showing the signs of decline. If they get a result against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening – which is, admittedly, a huge challenge – Spurs will be withing touching distance of the top four.
As long as they don’t let their Europa League commitments have a detrimental effect on their league performances, Tottenham could exploit the travails of their fellow Champions League challengers.
Much criticised and lampooned for his toothlessness in front of goal since the beginning of last season, Roberto Soldado finally had something to cheer about after scoring Spurs’ winning goal against Everton on Sunday.
Although it is far too early to say that Soldado has finally rediscovered his touch and is ready to tear up the Premier League as he did for Los Murciélagos in La Liga, the confidence with which he took his chance against the Toffees over the weekend was encouraging.
Spurs are in desperate need for a prolific striker to lead the line, and given that he cost £26million, one can understand why they want that man to be Soldado. Their fans will be hoping that the monkey has been flung from the Spaniard’s back for good, and that his smartly-taken finish in Tottenham’s last league outing marks the beginnings of a renaissance for the 29-year-old.
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