After a difficult start Mauricio Pochettino is starting to get Tottenham playing effective football. They haven’t yet adopted the kind of football that the coach wants his side to play, but they are starting to get wins. There is a general feeling that Tottenham have been underachieving for a number of years and many talented managers have failed there. However, it looks like the Argentine could be the perfect man for the job as Tottenham are just two points off the top four, as well as getting to the final of the Capital One Cup. It would be unfair to expect Spurs to get into the top four, due to the transitional period that the club is going through, but if they do creep into the Champions League, Pochettino deserves credit.
In the early part of the season, Spurs were inconsistent, losing home matches to West Brom, Newcastle and Stoke, who are all teams that Spurs should be beating at White Hart Lane. However, over the past month, wins against Chelsea, Sunderland and West Brom have lifted the side to 6th with a platform to push on over the second half of the campaign. It looks likely that they’ll be fighting with Arsenal, Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United for two places in the Champions League, and none of these sides look like they will be consistent enough to build a big enough gap between them and the rest. If Spurs drop fewer silly points, especially at home against sides in the bottom half, they have a real chance of a top four finish.
Although Spurs’ fans won’t see Champions League football as a must this season, it would certainly help the club out as Hugo Lloris could look for a move away if they aren’t playing in Europe’s Premier competition. Tottenham have learned in the past through the departures of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric that they are susceptible to interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world, and their goalkeeper won’t have a lack of interest in the summer. Daniel Levy will state that Tottenham aren’t a selling club and that is true, but until they become a regular in the Champions League, they will never be able to keep their big name players if a Champions League side comes calling.
Tottenham have a very talented squad, and observers will suggest that they should be challenging for a top four place given the money they have spent in recent windows. It’s true that they spent a lot after the sale of Gareth Bale, but they bought potential and some of those have yet to fulfill their undoubted potential yet. Christian Eriksen has been the only purchase from the summer of 2013 to really show his quality on a consistent basis in a white shirt. He has scored 9 goals from midfield which is an exceptional return, with the majority of those being decisive in matches. It’s surprising that the Dane only has one assist to his name, but the impact he has for his team is huge. He will be a contender for the player of the year award this season and he could be the difference between fifth and fourth in May.
Another huge reason why Tottenham are pushing for the top four is Pochettino’s faith in young talent which has come up through the ranks at Spurs. Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Ryan Mason have all been at Tottenham for a number of years, but Pochettino has given them a run in the first team and they have all excelled. The Argentine showed at Southampton that he could bring players through into the first team and that is a big reason why players like Eric Dier and Dele Alli have chosen to move to Spurs over other Premier League clubs. Kane in particular has been superb, scoring ten goals in the league and he has led the line with great intelligence.
Spurs can finish in the top four, with a combination of consistency and luck. The latter they have no control over, but performances in recent weeks suggest that they are becoming more consistent and that shows how Pochettino is slowly improving the squad without any real additions to it, highlighting his own abilities on the training pitch. The next two fixtures against Arsenal and Liverpool will show just how far away Tottenham are from top four contenders. If they take four points or more, then they will have to be considered as a quality side capable of a top four finish. Their performance against Chelsea last month showed that they can do it against the big sides and a repeat of that will be what Pochettino is wanting over the next two matches.