The Time for Glory is now!

“The true definition of mental illness is when the majority of your time is spent in the past or future, but rarely living in the realism of NOW.”

– Shannon L. Alder

The year is 2014 and Mauricio Pochettino is already under pressure in his new job having made the switch from Southampton to Tottenham a few months back. Its Gameweek 8 and Spurs have only garnered 11 points. Poch pleads for time and makes a pretty bold statement, “In two years Spurs will have won a trophy”. Well its year number three and the trophy cabinet is still quite dusty.

poch sad
Yea not quite happening is it?

The last time Tottenham got their hands on silverware was in 2008 when they won the League Cup. For those who have watched the premier league for a while, you will certainly remember the Newcastle side under Kevin Keegan in the ’95 season. The side was genuinely lovely to watch in terms of how they moved the ball and the quality of the goals they bagged with Les Ferdinand banging in 25 goals in that season. However come the final day of the season they finished four points behind eventual winners Manchester United. Doesn’t ring a bell for the millennials? well you lads are in luck as  Spurs could well be the best new age team to never win the Premier League.

For the last two seasons we have seen a improved Spurs side who have taken it to the league leaders but there has been nothing to show for it. Last season was an improvement to the season before last as instead of disintegrating under pressure, Spurs pushed up to ensure that the league was only confirmed on the penultimate game of the season.

pump
Best banter ever 

Its not been all doom under Poch. On the contrary there could never have been a better time to be a Spurs supporter. Pochettino has carved out a pretty strong bunch of players particularly their technical ability on the ball. Players such as Erikesen and Dembele have certainly blossomed under the Argentine and are very assured when they are on the ball. Their defence is also something to marvel about as they have been the meanest defence over the past two seasons. Their movements especially the fullbacks when making the transitions from pressing to counter-pressing  and from defending to counter attack is nothing short of phenomenal. Before Pochettino’s arrival, they had only finished in the top four only twice in the PL history. He has done it back to back. They also got their highest league position finish last year in about 50 years. You factor in that during that period their net spend has been a paltry 7 million pounds and you only marvel at what the Argentine is doing.

This is the start of Pochettino’s fourth season at the North London Club and the question on some lips is does he need a trophy? Is silverware that vital in the definition of his time at Spurs? Well for one Pochettino himself does not think so. He has often stated that it is not vital for him to win a trophy. The journey to arrive at a position where you win a trophy is more important to him. But the question that still remains is, have they not arrived at the said position? Its hard to think of an intermediate level between Spurs’ current position and a team capable of collecting trophies.

With just about two weeks until the close of the transfer window, urgent business for Tottenham will be to improve their squad depth. Having lost Kyle Walker, a replacement is urgently needed. They do have Kyle Walker Peters but still.. There are four pieces of silverware available to them this season so squad rotation will be very important. Pochettino will  need to pay attention to the cup competitions, something he has not been previously fond of. Only 13 players made over 10 starts in the league. This perhaps shows his tactical rigidity and in this season where the pressure may be greater than normal, they will need all hands on deck. Able backups to Kane, Alli and Vertoghen should be acquired as soon as possible.

Keeping a hold of his star players will also be top of his agenda. However that will not be much of a problem as we all know how Daniel Levy is. The man could probably walk into a bar and convince his bar stool to pay for his drink due to his hardheadedness. However his job was not made any easier by Rose’s comments with the left-back suggesting that Spurs should sign players you don’t have to google to know who they are. Everyone lashed out at him but he had a point. Spurs wage cap means they can’t compete with the Manchester Clubs in terms of going for a player. Salaries aside, its hard to convince a world class player to come to Tottenham to play backup to Kane.

alli and kane
What a sight.

Sloppiness is also something they have to avoid in the current season. They have often had slow and miserable starts to the campaign, a fact compounded by the realization that Harry Kane has never scored a premier league in August. the 2-0 win over Newcastle was mighty impressive but Kane will have to show up sooner rather than later if this steady start is to continue.

90min.com stated that a trophy should not be seen as the ultimate yardstick for success at Tottenham by lending a thought to Leicester during their PL winning season and the season after. To them a trophy symbolizes success but it does not guarantee it for years to come. The expectation for silverware  should be replaced by admiration and reflection.

Jamie Carragher stated that it would a travesty if this current crop of Spurs players fail to win anything. This is because it is only a matter of time before the big clubs start picking apart this young team with half of them having not even reached their potential. What we have seen recently is that  money will turn any footballer’s head. I wouldn’t use such strong terms but in my opinion a trophy represents the transition from a good team to a winning team.

Bring on the new season!!!

winks
Player to watch: HARRY WINKS 

 

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What Next? 

​Gareth Southgate has finally taken charge of games as the permanent manager this week and it was a good week for the three lions. An encouraging display against Germany in Dortmund followed by a good win against Lithuania at Wembley yester night. We can see some aspects of Southgate’s imprint on the team but one thing we are noticing is that there is progress. So what should Southgate sort out before the next round of international matches?


1. A definite style of play.

Southgate has tinkered with the team quite a lot since his appointment but his favoured formation has always been 4-2-3-1 where the front three sort of tuck in and give more space for the fullbacks to fly forward. However after the Slovenia game in October, we felt it proving to be a problem with England as the movement wasn’t that swift and the game was for most parts, dull.

Against Germany, he lined up with a 3-4-3 formation and it was excellent to say the least.  It has to be said that England did not deserve to lose. Michael Keane has to be singled out for his performance that night. For you to make your full international debut against the world champions and come out without any blame surely can’t go unnoticed. It will be interesting to watch him in the next few games.

On Sunday Southgate marshalled a 4-2-3-1 formation and there were a few jitters about the formation but to some extent it worked. It’s nice to note that the players are actually flexible to handle the tactical switch. Going forward it will be interesting to see what Southgate sticks to. He wasn’t very outgoing in his post-match press conference by claiming England is at an advantage in that they can shift their formation so it will keep teams guessing.

I would rather the 4-2-3-1 formation as it actually encourages a lot of build-up from the midfield where the bulk of England’s talent lies. It will prove to be a difficult formation to resort to if the opposition actually come out as it means the fullbacks have to go back and the wide players need to track their markers which is probably not their strongest asset.

2. Player Call-ups

There were definitely eyebrows raised when Theo Walcott wasn’t selected for this round of international matches despite being the second highest scoring Englishman. Southgate claimed that Theo had been given his chance the last time and he was unable to replicate his club form. He also added that he had more options in Barkley and Rashford and was looking to try something new. Wayne was also left out though why this was a shock to people I don’t know. Southgate got a lot of stick for selecting Livermore but look around and notice anyone who watched the game against Germany has changed their stance about Livermore. The boy was efficient with his passing and tackling. 

Not Mr Nice Guy after all eh? He is a man keen to stamp his personality on the team and the train carrying joyriders seems to be slowing down to a halt. However it will be important for some consistency so as to ensure that partnerships and chemistry are built. He’s got to have a definite spine in the team on which to build the rest of the team. The team will be built around Harry Kane because his outrageous goal return so far demands that. Alli has also started curving his own niche as the first choice number ten and it hard to see him being dropped for anyone else. 


However the rest of the squad needs to follow suit.

3. The Rooney situation.

The one thing that has refused to go away for Southgate. I feel it’s unfair that Southgate has to deal with Rooney at every press release yet Mourinho rarely has to deal with the same. Deep down we all know there’s no way Wayne is usurping any person selected to play number 10. Alli and Lallana have excellent movement and Rooney’s lack of pace is definitely something that’s in stark contrast to the rest of the number 10 contenders. A call-up should be as a result of form and not status. He’s captain and record goal scorer but how does that affect England for the 90 minutesif he lasts that long that he is on a pitch?

Southgate however still insists that Rooney has a future role in his team and still regards him as his permanent captain. Whether he is simply delaying the inevitable or is simply according him the necessary respect remains to be seen.

4. Jermain Defoe.

This was definitely a shock call-up. Southgate really took a gamble by placing his trust on the Sunderland forward. He referred to him as a natural and someone who knows his way around goal so there was nothing to teach. Thankfully his plan did not go awry and he was rewarded with a goal early on with Defoe admitting the manager had backed him to score that day. Hats off to Defoe for displaying the professionalism that he’s always possessed. However the hype about his continued presence should be contained.

His last involvement was in 2013 and one might argue his sudden exile from the national team was too sudden. However we need to come to terms with the fact that he is 34 years old. By the time the World Cup will be coming around, he will be a few months shy of his 36th birthday.

Going back to the issue of formation, both the 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1 demand a lot of movement across the front three and front four respectively. It’s the only way players e.g. Lallana and Vardy will have a chance at goal. The full impact of the front three was felt in the Germany game where Vardy, Alli and Lallana kept switching all half long and Alli should have done better in trying to beat Ter Stegen and Lallana hit the post. Defoe thrived in the 4-2-3-1 situation but in the event the manager wants something else, he will stick out like a sore thumb.

Not to take away his positives. He is the 22nd player to reach 20 goals for England so surely that has to count for something. He is what you want to be in the box. His poaching instincts are a beauty and he must be applauded for his impeccable positioning but I simply believe England has more to offer than to rely on the 34 year old.


Southgate alluded to this by admitting that they should have moved the ball quickly and the runs in behind the defence were not enough, something that definitely changed once Rashford and Vardy came on. 

5. His Back Four

Much has always been made about England’s back four and for good measure it must be said. The pairings have just not been good enough and have been susceptible for individual mistakes or just looked alien. Cahill against Germany was susceptible for Podolski’s goal. Take nothing away from the finish but I think Cahill should have done better than just stand there and be used as a wall and Hart saw it too late. There was simply no way of keeping that out still.

I don’t want to rush it but Michael Keane was phenomenal over the course of the two games. It’s not a system he is used to but he took it like a duck to water. He was also excellent next to Stones yesterday and they hardly put a foot wrong all game long. Cahill is 31 while Keane and Stones are in their mid-20s. It might be seen as too early to decide on this but I think they would make a good base for the national team. Both are comfortable on the ball which will go a long way in implementing Southgate’s all-passing team. Walker is definitely first and second choice RB, probably even third! His movement up and down the right side is a joy to watch and it is simply an honour watching such an athlete doing his job. Keeping him fit is definitely of importance. The LB position is still of worry. Danny Rose is definitely first choice but his deputies need to pull up their socks. Bertrand did a good job this past week. Shaw needs to take the little chance he gets to justify his position if at all he is called upon next.

13 out of 15 points at the halfway stage is not a bad return. The job is far from done as England must learn to replicate its qualification form to the major events that they go otherwise they will simply be regarded as minnow participants. For now, England is far from good enough, but under Southgate, fans have a reason to smile.