Mauricio Pochettino has taken Tottenham to back-to-back top-three finishes but can he take the next step and win a trophy? We put Pochettino under the spotlight in our series looking at the managers of the Premier League’s top six.
What happened last year?
Tottenham won more points than in any season in the club’s history (the 1960/61 title win was back in the days of two points for a win) as they pushed Chelsea hard in the Premier League. Having also gone close against Leicester in the previous campaign, it underlined the fact that Spurs have been the country’s most consistently excellent team in recent times.
The Champions League experience was less enjoyable, going out of the competition at the group stage, and defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final meant that there would no trophy to show for their efforts. Individually, Harry Kane retained the golden boot and Dele Alli was named as the PFA young player of the year for a second successive season.
What are the expectations?
There is an awareness that Pochettino is working under different financial conditions to his top-six counterparts and expectations are tempered as a result. But with the Argentine having constructed a well-organised and now tactically flexible team that is excellent in defence and attack, there is a growing feeling that they are capable of delivering silverware.
What has he done in the transfer window?
Tottenham are yet to sign anyone this summer. However, that does not mean it has been an unsuccessful window. That Harry Kane and Dele Alli have not been seriously linked with a move away – despite being able to earn far more elsewhere – is a triumph for the club’s contract strategy and the belief that Pochettino has fostered that success is imminent.
One major sale has been made with the long-serving Kyle Walker leaving for Premier League rivals Manchester City in a £50m deal. The right-back was a key player for Spurs last season but the fee is expected to be reinvested and Kieran Trippier has already shown himself to be an able deputy when given the opportunity last season.
What are the big issues to address?
Tottenham’s team pretty much picks itself but the strength in depth remains an issue. Vincent Janssen struggled to make an impact up front last season, while Moussa Sissoko’s big-money move from Newcastle was not a success. Convincing players to come to Spurs and sit on the bench is tricky but better alternatives will be required.
There will be a hope that solutions can be found within the club. Harry Winks was integrated into the first team last season, featuring 33 times in all competitions, while Josh Onomah is expected to push for more minutes too. Marcus Edwards was part of the England team that won the European Under-19 Championships and is rated highly by Pochettino.
But whatever the squad looks like when the window closes, it is what Tottenham do at the business end of the season that will concern supporters. Accusations that the young team ‘bottled it again’ were unfair but big games have gone against Spurs in spring in each of the past two seasons. That will need to change if they are to make the next step.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to further progress this coming season is the temporary move to Wembley while the new stadium is constructed. Pochettino’s men were unbeaten at White Hart Lane in the Premier League last season but lost to Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea at Wembley. How quickly they make it home could define their season.
So what happens next?
Tottenham are an 8/1 shot to win the Premier League title with Sky Bet, well behind both Manchester clubs and reigning champions Chelsea in the betting odds. That reflects the fact that they have punched above their weight under Pochettino. But his young team know that they will not be together forever. The game is about glory and the time for that glory is now.Euro Soccer Bonus
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