With the transfer window picking up speed and oscillating into full swing, Tottenham seem to have gone dark. Benjamin Stambouli has departed the club and there is small-talk about a young Lyon striker who broke onto the scene last season – no, it’s not the one you’re hoping for Lyon fans. It’s Clinton N’Jie.
But apart from that Tottenham have been quiet since they completed a flurry of transfers early on in the window. It looks like Spurs have done their shopping early.
To me that’s impressive. Pochettino knew exactly what he needed – defenders – and went out and got them early. It seems Pochettino is a particularly cruel man, he brings in his signings in good time to complete his notoriously intensive pre-season training schedule. No one is spared, it seems.
On the other hand, Spurs’ defence was so dodgy at times last season that defenders are sorely needed. Perhaps Pochettino simply needed the time to get the new guys organised. In any case, expect Spurs to be fit, organised and filled with team spirit next season.
That’s the benefit of getting the whole squad together before pre-season. The new guys have time to bed in and gel with the squad. They have time to make friends and get to know the ways of the dressing room as well as training with the team and getting a feel for Pochettino’s methods and style of play.
So there’s great method to Pochettino’s pre-season and I wouldn’t be surprised if Spurs reaped the rewards next season.
There’s just one troubling thought, though. And that’s Harry Kane. Last season Kane became the first Tottenham striker since Gary Lineker to score over 30 goals for the club in a single season. To repeat a cringe-worthy phrase: everything he touched turned to goals.
But I can think of very few strikers in world football who do manage to repeat their goalscoring form every year. Consistency in strikers makes managers go weak at the knees. If your main man can guarantee you 15 league goals a season without fail you’ll keep him in the side. It’s invaluable. And yet only Messi and Ronaldo seem to be able to do it. Perhaps you can add Luis Suarez to that list too. Most other mere mortals have at least one poor season. They’re only human after all.
And so what happens if Harry Kane has an off season next time around? Tottenham relied on him too much last season as it was. He was the man who scored the goals and no one else came close to his tally. But next season he may not be so hot. And Tottenham need someone else around him who can score goals. Especially if Adebayor moves to Villa and Soldado runs back off to Spain.
It’s not just for the team’s sake, but for the player’s sake too. If Kane is under pressure and has a poor season, not only could it dent his confidence, but the people who are already concerned that he’s a flash in the pan will start to be convinced of that. If he’s a 30 goal a season striker then great, but he shouldn’t be put under pressure to be one consistently, not after his first full season.
Is Clinton N’Jie the solution to that particular problem, or maybe Michy Batshuayi, even though the rumours have cooled a little bit on that move? Or does he feel that Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela will step up and become the players we all thought they would be two seasons ago? If Pochettino thinks so then we should probably trust him, at least for this season. Another young player who Pochettino fancies bringing through the ranks might work well for Spurs, especially as a second striker to supplement the goals of Kane. But it’s still a big season for the players who haven’t performed well of late in a Tottenham strip.
The less pressure on the young players the better, and having someone else to grab the goals could be crucial for the team and for Kane’s own development. But Pochettino should put a bit more gentle pressure onto his established attackers to see if they can supplement Kane’s goals. Failing that, he might need a striker.
It’s a great thing that Spurs have done their business early so that the squad can gel and everyone can get a pre-season under their belts, but Pochettino should be careful if he feels he’s done all of his business already. There’s a lot of firepower in his team, but if he doesn’t bring in another attacker he’ll be gambling on some of his current roster stepping up. And on the evidence of the last couple of season, that’s a bit of a risk.