A few weeks ago, the notion of 2015 seemed like a rather magical, mystical one. But a few boozy celebrations, countless chocolates and cheese-cracker combos later, and it’s disappointingly similar to the year before.
The turn of the year does, however, give us the opportunity to reflect on the last twelve months and in regards to Premier League clubs, what they can improve upon. After all, to improve is to change, but to change often is perfection.
And with that House-of-Cards-inspired fable in mind, we’re running the rule over the latter portion of Tottenham’s 2014, earmarking what they can improve upon in the second half of their Premier League campaign.
It’s been remedied somewhat in recent weeks with impressive results against Manchester United and Chelsea, a scoreless draw and a 5-3 win respectively, but Tottenham’s home form must improve if they’re to have any chance of making it into the top four this season.
Those table-topper-busting scalps of recent weeks are strongly juxtaposed by the Lilywhites prior form at White Hart Lane, enduring a run of four defeats in their first six home outings of the season, including that 3-0 thumping by Liverpool back in August.
Mauricio Pochettino appears to have found the right defensive formula after plenty of experimentation at the start of the campaign, and the good news is that the Lilywhites have already faced five of the Premier League’s top eight at home.
Upcoming Lane fixtures against fellow top four contenders West Ham and Arsenal however, both in February and further amplified in their importance through local rivalry, could go on to define Tottenham’s season.
Three management changes in the space of a calendar year certainly hasn’t helped, but Tottenham are amongst the Premier League’s guiltiest when it comes to making signings that don’t seem to fit any particular philosophy.
Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason have all stood out this season under Mauricio Pochettino and the Argentine clearly wishes to promote their youthful energy and enthusiasm throughout the squad.
But it speaks volumes that all three academy products are starting weekly over the likes of Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele, Benjamin Stambouli, Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor to name a few, all of whom originally cost the Lilywhites around £70million in transfer fees, not to mention an untold fortune more in wages.
Having now proved himself to any potential doubters – including Daniel Levy – in the first half of the season, it’s time Pochettino is given the funds to sign players that suit his high-pressing philosophy.
Collecting players has always been a bit of a problem for Tottenham – their squads tend to be amongst the largest in the Premier League, but that rarely correlates to positive results.
Once again, there’s plenty of deadwood piling up at White Hart Lane and although the north Londoners will likely make a considerable loss on many of them, selling the likes of Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor and Mousa Dembele will free up huge funds for Mauricio Pochettino – in terms of both transfer and wage budgets.
Then there’s the likes of Kyle Naughton and Benoit Assou-Ekotto who are literally just making up the numbers. Incredibly, Spurs have five players on the books this season who are capable of playing at left-back, which is simply far too many.
An efficiently streamlined squad and some signings of Pochettino’s own discretion could be what takes the Lilywhites to the next level in 2015.
Harry Kane’s proved a revelation for Spurs this season, but it’s unlikely he’d even be involved in first team affairs right now if Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor weren’t enduring such horrendous form.
Having netted just three times between them in the Premier League this season, from a combined 1342 minutes on the pitch, neither pose a genuinely viable alternative to Tottenham’s latest goal-getter, who boast a far healthier return of seven goals in ten league starts.
Kane’s form won’t last forever however – he’s operating on sustained momentum and the sheer will of the Lane fanbase at the minute – and when the goals inevitably dry up, Spurs will be left worryingly short of firepower.
Thus, if the north Londoners are to make any signings this January, a dependable forward must be their first port of call. Some have already suggested a revival of interest in Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, who was the third-top scoring Englishman in the Premier League last term.