It’s time yet again in N17 for Daniel Levy to pull out another manager to steer the North London side to Champions League qualification, a feat only Harry Redknapp has managed in Levy’s 14 year stint as Spurs chairman.
Mauricio Pochettino has signed a five-year contract at Tottenham, a fairly large contract considering their longest serving manager since the late 80s was Harry Redknapp, who managed the club for three and a half years.
In what was an underwhelming season for Spurs fans, especially against the top four, the question is, can Mauricio Pochettino create a Spurs side that can compete against sides that are currently in the top four?
Chairman Daniel Levy seems to believe so:
In Mauricio I believe we have a Head Coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our club. He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality. We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season. We have all got to work together and make the club a better club. We have a man who knows the right balance between experience and youth.
His record against the top four over the 18 months he was Saints boss was exemplary, compared to former Spurs head coaches Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood.
In his first four and a half months in the hotseat as Southampton boss, Pochettino recorded three wins towards the latter stages of the 2012/2013 season over the teams that ended as the top three in 2013/2014 Premier League campaign – three home wins over Manchester City (3-1), Liverpool (3-1) and Chelsea (2-1).
This season, however, Pochettino played eight games against the top four, taking just five points, a stark contrast to his first four months in the job.
Although, the five points he took off the top four were a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City, (Tottenham lost their home game to City 5-1), a 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal (Tottenham lost their home game to Arsenal 1-0) and beat Liverpool away at Anfield 1-0 (Tottenham lost their away game to Liverpool 4-0).
In fact, Spurs took just one solitary point from the top four all season, and that was with Andre Villas-Boas at the helm when they drew to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side 1-1 at White Hart Lane.
If Pochettino is to make Spurs competitive again, the reports circulating that he is set to take the squad on a military boot-camp regime in pre season to set the Spurs players up for his first season in charge in North London. This will determine who wants to compete for their place in the current Spurs squad, with the rest arguably having to fend for themselves in terms of transfers if they do not fit into Pochettino’s regime.
Southampton were arguably one of the fittest squads in the Premier League last season, as he built the South Coast side as a team who incorporate a high intensity pressing game.
The Telegraph reported that, “Southampton players joked of needing three lungs to work for Pochettino and claimed to be so tired after training that they spent the rest of their days sleeping.” This will be a stark contrast to the days under AVB and Sherwood where players looked almost too relaxed in the tunnel before a game, compared to the concentration of Southampton players before heading on to the pitch.
Statistics favour Southampton’s pressing approach ahead of Tottenham, with Pochettino’s side attempting more tackles than Spurs (804 vs 750), less defensive errors (19 vs 33) and more possession won in the midfield (1030 vs 930) and attacking third (146 vs 114).
Spurs have one of the most talented squads in the Premier League, but their defence is one department that needs focussing on in regard to the transfer market. Michael Dawson does not suit a high-pressing style, and while Andre Villas-Boas tinkered with the idea of selling the centre-back to QPR in 2012, it may be time for Spurs to sell the fan favourite. Younes Kaboul is lacking in fitness, Pochettino’s pre-season military boot camp will either make or break the French centre-back; while Danny Rose has a lot to do to justify a left-back starting spot.
Spurs had a total of 45 injuries through the course of the 2013/2014 season, the highest in the league – Southampton, however, had just 23 – which shows the importance of good back-room staff who will join Pochettino.
What is important is that everyone at Spurs, from the fans, to the playing staff to the chairman and executives back the Argentinian boss, because if they do not, they will find a situation they have found themselves in during Daniel Levy’s reign – with one manager walking out of N17, and a new manager walking in.