After struggling for consistency over the first half of the season, Mauricio Pochettino realised Tottenham needed to make a break for it if they were to make it across the stormy Premier League sea to a top four finish.
But after a false start of three straight wins in February, including a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Arsenal, the waters came crashing down. Spurs won just six of their last 14 fixtures and Pochettino and his squad ended the season in fifth place, trapped staring longingly across a vast ocean at the promised land of Champions League football.
But there is a man who can, stay with me, part the waters for Tottenham this season.
And yes, his name is Moses. Victor Moses, to be exact.
The Chelsea winger spent the past season on loan at Stoke City, where he overcame frequent injuries to notch four goals and six assists in 23 outings for the Potters. Moses’ four league assists were the second most at the Britannia Stadium, and helped Stoke secure a top-half finish for the second consecutive year.
The Nigerian international arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2012, and scored 10 goals while bagging five assists across all competitions in his maiden season with the Blues, his best season yet. Before that, he had tallied nine goals in 80 appearances for Wigan.
Clearly, Moses can flourish with quality players surrounding him, as he did at Chelsea, and can also help improve those on the pitch with him, as he did at Stoke. However, he has only played 23 games for Jose Mourinho, and could find a more permanent slot at White Hart Lane.
At 24, Moses fits into Pochettino’s roster of young, developing players along with the likes of Harry Kane, Alex Pritchard and Kevin Wimmer. He has shown extraordinary discipline for his age since his international debut at the age of 21, scoring seven goals in 23 appearances for Nigeria.
Moses’ strengths lie in taking set pieces and maintaining possession through dribbling at fast pace. He is extremely physical and draws fouls often, but can beat almost any opponent to the ball with intense speed. The winger’s dribbling is superb, and he loves to directly approach defenders, then quickly cut inside and confuse them with changes in direction.
Though Moses is right-footed and can play on either side, he primarily plays on the left which an area of notorious weakness for Tottenham. Spurs employ a 4-2-3-1 formation and tend to run all their attacks up the middle through lone striker Kane, but letting Moses take the ball on the left wing would add width to their attack.
Pochettino surely has plenty of midfield talent to call upon already, but reports that he is planning to sell £30 million acquisition Erik Lamela suggest he is ready to try something new. Whereas Lamela averaged just 1.7 dribbles and 1.3 shots per game, Moses had 3.3 dribbles per game and 2.2 shots per game.
Now, I don’t necessarily believe in prophets, but I do believe that Moses could be a catalyst of similar proportions for Tottenham. The Lilywhites’ attacking system is getting worn and predictable, and opponents only have to glance at Kane to see where the team’s real threat lies.
If Pochettino wants a possible path to the Champions League next season, his best bet is to get Moses to clear the way.