Now I know that we are supposed to hate everything and anything about Tottenham Hotspur but one thing that I can’t shake out of my head is that they probably have the best manager currently working in the Premier League. The sooner that he gets poached by a team more deserving of his talents the better as far as I am concerned.
The wild delusions of Spurs fans were always easy to ridicule in the past as a succession of managers came along, spent loads of cash on disappointing players, flattered to deceive only to be summarily dismissed by James Bond villain lookalike Daniel Levy. Then it all went wrong with the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. Suddenly they had a man with a plan who was prepared to stick with it and expected his players to fit in or ship out. To make matters worse they also play a style of football that is entertaining to watch.
A year or two ago we might have believed that we were not far behind these junior north London neighbours and that with a new stadium and a step up investment we could be hot on their heels. After all, they are the team in the money league immediately above us and if there is to be a next level then that is where it needs to start. Sadly, as things stand, we are barely in the same league.
If you have watched Pochettino’s side play it is evident that they are extremely well drilled, exceptionally fit, full of pace and play a consistent style that allows players to come in and out without disruption. Within this they have flexibility to switch formations effectively; full backs that become wing backs without changing stride; and central midfield players that appear to drop effortlessly into central defence. Defensive duties is a collective effort by a unit of six players. So fit are their players that the attacking/ creative four players are not required to ‘track back’ as a matter of course although all will defend from the front.
Contrast all this with our own sorry performances this season and consider these questions. Do we have a consistent style of play to adhere to that all the players understand? Do you see any evidence that we are building something for the future? Why have we recruited so many players without pace? Why do our players appear to be so unfit and injury prone? Why have we failed to blood any young players and in certain cases preferred to rely on pointless loanees?
It is always going to take a team that has been relegated some years to become re-established in the top flight. Before this season I believed that we had made reasonable strides in the right direction even if the football, at times, lacked excitement. Most of the Championship level dead wood had been shipped out and we seemed to be heading in the right direction. Now it feels very much like back to square one with a group of players that need to be seriously upgraded if we are to avoid more seasons of struggle.
If there really is any ambition then a far more enlightened and visionary approach to managing the club is required; one that naturally recognises the need to survive but also has an eye on a future that doesn’t get reset with every change of manager. As things stand I don’t see any structure in place that oversees the clubs on-field development nor a manager that is able to build or energise a team. With a 60,000 seater stadium it is no longer feasible just to tread water year after year or we will end up just like Sunderland.