Today we welcome Spurs…
Who Manages Them:
So far Mauricio Pochettino has answered every question that has been asked of him as a Premier League manager.
Could he adapt to the English game at Southampton?
Could he manage a team with expectation at Spurs?
Could he turn them from one season wonders into long-term contenders?
Could he say any of that in English?
So far it has all been an emphatic ‘si’, with an attractive and entertaining style of play all the more credible given his uncomplicated attitude to man and ball as a player.
The Argentinean may be starting his most difficult season as a manager though, two CL finishes on the trot have led to the other title contenders spending stupid amounts of money while Pochettino sticks to his way of bringing through youngsters and developing academy talent. He sounds like the man Arsene Wenger could have been, young players previously on the scrap heap now inspired to great things by the cult of Pochettino, his personal magnetism driving them on.
Only this time some of his ‘young talent’ want more money to play, some of them want football trophies to go along with their bedroom trophies and some of them simply won’t be able to motivate themselves any more. Well so says Jermaine Jenas, who this week got out of bed long enough to say:
“It is crazy that Spurs have just had two years where they have had a run at the title and fallen short and they have not improved their squad. Their players will be thinking how are they going to make that next step if they have not improved our squad and that squad wasn’t good enough to get the job done anyway?”
Which is exactly the sort of attitude that meant Jenas would have been the first player that Pochettino saw through with his polystyrene backbone.
Chide him though I do, it is a sentiment which has been echoed by current Spurs players on the eve of the season, which no doubt is exactly what a manager needs a few days before kick-off.
At least Rafa doesn’t have the same problem, our players seem more comfortable with a lack of ambition, but how Pochettino handles his talented players, and Danny Rose, will be a challenge he probably hasn’t faced yet. I’m sure he is strong enough to handle it, whether he is good enough only time will tell. I hope he is, I like him, he reminds me of every landlord the Queen Vic has ever had in Eastenders.
He looks like he wants to smash everybody’s faces when something goes wrong. I hope we see that look today.
Who Have They Signed:
No one. They are building a new stadium and they haven’t got any money. Even the £80million they brought in from selling Kyle Walker, Bentaleb, N’Jie and Fazio went in one afternoon at Barker and Stonehouse kitting out the executive boxes. Pochettino has played this all down like a proper company man, this week saying:
“Tottingham in the last few years have had a very clear philosophy, when you have a very good team and a plan you want to follow it is not easy to find the right players. I’m sure we will add to our squad to give new energy. Our chairman is working hard with our chief scout trying to add strength.”
Just like NUFC then. Apart from the very good team. And the hard working chairman. And the clear philosophy. And the plan. Impish left back Danny Rose weighed into the saga with his own take on the crisis, saying:
“I am not saying buy 10 players, I’d love to see two or three — and not players you have to Google and say, ‘Who’s that?’ I mean well-known players.”
So I Googled Danny Rose and supposedly it is a very good Woody Allen film. I’m sure it is just what you need before the start of a season, one of your longest serving and most established players telling everyone he is too good for you. After spouting off about money and contracts, Danny revealed the real reason he wanted out of North London:
“I will say this too, I will play up north. I don’t know exactly when but I will get back up north and play some football somewhere. I have been away for over 10 years now and I don’t get to see my mum that often.”
Ah bless Danny. When you say you want to play up North, how far up North do you mean? North of a 150k a week?
Rose’s rant drew a rebuke from former manager Harry Redknapp who said the player should concentrate on his job and mind his own business. I know, hilarious. Redknapp wasn’t joking either, he said it with two straight faces.
‘Spare the price of a cup of tea Guv?’
Who Have We Seen Before:
Signed in January 2013 for £1.5million from Toulouse, Sissoko quickly established himself as a terrace favourite after two stunning goals in a 3-2 home debut victory over Chelsea. And that was it really.
He stayed for another three years but he might as well not have bothered. It quickly became clear that Sissoko had everything any footballer needed to succeed, except ability. He played 118 games for us and scored another 9 goals but I can’t really remember any of them, I just remember the look on his face when he misplaced another pass, skewed another shot wide, switched off and lost his man again. It was never a look of anger, dismay or regret, just a look of emptiness.
There was no recognition of fault, desire to improve or understanding of collective necessity, just awareness that something was going on around him which was beyond his comprehension. And that was something was football.
In the end we got £30million for him from Spurs, maybe that is the reason Spurs haven’t spent any money this summer, one look at Sissoko and they realise their foolishness. We thought the £30million was great at the time but it didn’t matter how much we got for him, the Fatman trousered all of that money and spent it elsewhere, anywhere but our club. In the end Moussa cost us very little when we signed him, did very little when he was here and we’ll see very little of the money we got for him. A fitting tribute to the club that Mike built.
With Kyle Walker replacement Kieran Trippier out injured and young Kyle Walker-Peters not yet properly cloned, it is likely that Moussa will play right back today. He has many of the qualities that a good right back needs; he is lightning fast, strong as an ox and fit enough to get up and down the wing for 90 minutes.
Of course a decent full back should be able to pass, tackle and head, so he is also missing a few of the key attributes. Concentration will probably be his downfall if he plays in defence, he’s got the attention span of forgetful goldfish, when he left NUFC he couldn’t even remember which team he was going to sign for.
How Will They Do This Season:
After two very good seasons behind them, Spurs really need to keep up the momentum which is so important in football.
To do that without buying players is tough, not re-investing as your competitors break the bank seems almost negligent.
It would be like getting promoted as Champions and then sacking your entire player recruitment team and scouting network just when you were about to enter a transfer window. I mean which idiots would do that?
Spurs have some excellent players and some players who are worth big, big money judging by this summer’s Northern Rock style transfer free-for-all.
I think they will have to finish in the top four to keep them and I think they will find that difficult. Spurs have the team to do it in style but whether they have the squad is another thing altogether, an injury to Kane looks more of a disaster to Spurs than an injury to Lukaku, Morata or Aguero would to their respective teams.
As for the mentality, we’ll see how many of their players are still totally committed over the course of the season.
Are We Going To Win:
Today Spurs are playing a team that lacks investment itself but despite a lack of money in London, three things Spurs do have are an experienced goalkeeper, two quality number 10’s and a proven goalscorer, three things Rafa is doing his nut over on Tyneside.
Keeping Kane, Alli and the hugely under-rated Erikson quiet will be our main mission but Spurs do seem to be a little distracted at present and our tight-knit squad who already play up north might just have the fight to win this one. Maybe not 5-1 this time but the main reasons for that result still remain, Spurs lack pace and we don’t.
Personally, it would be nice to hear about the players we do have for once rather than the players we don’t have after a quiet summer.
It would be nice to have the feet doing the talking rather than the bleat do the, er bleating, Mike Ashley’s Sky interview this weekend even more pathetic given its timing. Forget about the money and enjoy the football. Howay The Lads.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])