This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Mauricio Pochettino has to stop making excuses.
Tottenham Hotspur lost 1-0 to Newcastle United on Sunday in a display that effectively put their supporters through death by a thousand cuts.
Spurs had 79.8% possession in the game, per WhoScored, and had a total of 929 touches of the ball; they made 753 total passes compared to the Magpies’ 192. It was the Magpies who dominated the most important stat of all, though: they scored, Spurs didn’t.
Afterwards, Pochettino, who had decided against picking Christian Eriksen in attacking midfield and opted to start with Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks in central midfield, blamed the defeat on a lack of unity.
He said, per The Guardian: “The problem is during the week, not when the competition arrives. This type of situation happens in the Premier League. That is why you need to create a very good dynamic and strong team bonding and, at the moment, that situation in our group is still far, far away. The group is still unsettled and we need to find solutions.
“We didn’t play well and I’m very disappointed about our performance. We conceded a very cheap goal and then it was difficult. We created some chances but not enough. We should have played better, [with] more desire, more capacity, more aggression with the ball. To have 80% of possession is too much when you only have a few shot on target.”
That, quite frankly, is an abdication of his duty. Supporters deserve to hear answers from the manager of their club. Now, it must be said, he was not to blame for the injuries sustained by either Dele Alli or Tanguy Ndombele.
But he opted against picking Eriksen – he has said he wants a new challenge and one has to assume that this is some sort of show of strength from Pochettino – and he decided to play two midfielders who do not have a through ball in them.
He also picked Son Heung-min on the left flank, a player who thrives on the break, who needs space and time. Even the most casual observer of the Premier League would know he was not going to have his day against Newcastle.
The selection of Erik Lamela – probably motivated by form after his goal and assist against City – looked all the more naïve as soon as he decided to take three touches instead of one every time the ball came near his boot.
Lucas Moura also played and, well, for Lucas, read the Son paragraph again. The pair were never going to work together in tandem.
Watch Tottenham Hotspur Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv Below
Jan Vertonghen was also relegated to the bench, with Davinson Sanchez making a horrendous mistake that led to the Magpies’ only goal.
Pochettino did not know that Harry Kane was going to snatch at his chances but he did not help himself.
He appeared to let a petty feud get in the way of selecting his best attacking midfielder. He chose two wingers who had little to no chance of influencing a game against a resolute, deep-lying backline. And he left his best centre-back out too.
And then, afterwards, he decided against explaining himself, merely offering a few words of vague meaning that hint at a deeper problem.
Perhaps that problem comes from the fact that Pochettino holds everyone else to account before himself. If Spurs are to progress this season, that has to change.