Tottenham Hotspur moved back into the Champions League qualification spots in the Premier League on Sunday as they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park, with Chelsea slipping out of the top four after they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The result was a big boost for Spurs and manager Mauricio Pochettino ahead of a huge week in which they face three crucial home fixtures against Rochdale in a fifth round FA Cup replay, Huddersfield Town in the top flight and then Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Even though the north London outfit finished third in the 2015/16 campaign and then second last term, finishing in fourth would be seen as a success for the club this time around seeing as they have been playing at Wembley while their new stadium is being built, combined with their exertions in Europe’s elite club competition.
Pochettino continues to deservedly get praise from neutrals and pundits alike for keeping Spurs performing at this level, and by this time next week they could find themselves in the both the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League, as well as cementing their spot in the top four in the Premier League and keeping the pressure up on second-place Manchester United, who lie just two points above them.
If that happens then the Argentine boss will once again be the subject of kind words from many different angles, but there is one aspect of his managerial career where he is perhaps coming up short right now, and that is in the transfer market.
Given Pochettino’s influence at Tottenham it seems right to assume that he has a big say in who the club signs, and while there has certainly been some success stories with the likes of Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld, there have also been many disappointing ones too.
In the summer of 2016, Vincent Janssen was brought to the club to provide competition for Harry Kane, but he often disappointed on the pitch and failed to make a big impression even when he started matches with the England international injured.
Spurs may have won the title if they had the 29-goal Kane instead of Janssen for those eight Premier League matches he sat out, with the north London outfit amassing 86 points and only finishing seven adrift of Chelsea.
Moussa Sissoko also arrived in the same summer as Janssen for £30m from Newcastle United, and it seemed a strange move even though he was a France international having far too often failed to make much of an impact for a Magpies side that was relegated.
The midfielder is still yet to make an impact or start regularly for Tottenham, although he has improved slightly this term following a nightmare debut campaign in which he was often mocked for his performances by his own supporters.
The 28-year-old didn’t score his first Spurs goal until September, and he only has two in 70 appearances in total for Pochettino’s side.
Things didn’t get much better for the north London club and Pochettino during the previous summer transfer window either with the arrivals of Serge Aurier from Paris Saint-Germain and Fernando Llorente from Swansea City – Janssen’s short-term replacement.
While Davinson Sanchez has largely been a success aside from a handful of poor displays, the jury is very much still out on Llorente and Aurier.
The former doesn’t appear to fit into Tottenham’s style of play with the 6ft 5in striker’s main strength being that he is useful in the air in the penalty area – as he showed with Swansea last season – and he only has two goals in 26 appearances in all competitions this term.
While many of his outings have come from the substitutes’ bench, he has failed to score in four starts in the FA Cup against AFC Wimbledon, Newport County and Rochdale, failing to make too much of an impact in any of those fixtures despite his experience.
Meanwhile, Aurier has shown glimpses that he could be a good addition, but he has also often shown himself to be a liability.
The penalty he gave away when his team were trailing 2-0 against Juventus was clumsy and naïve – luckily Gonzalo Higuain failed to convert it – while he produced three foul throws and missed a glorious chance to score in the 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at the weekend.
If Tottenham are going to make it to the next level they need to get things right in the transfer market, and Spurs and the Argentine manager will hope that the January addition of Lucas Moura gets them back on track in terms of new signings, as it is one of the few negative points on Pochettino’s CV right now.