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26.07.2014

With the new season upon us, it has been an eventful 12 months.

Three Spurs managers have taken the team, starting with AVB, moving through Tim Sherwood and ending up with Mauricio Pochettino (let's call him Poch).

Andre was unlucky in that the team hit a run of games where they were well beaten, but the players appeared to give up when they got 0-4 down, resulting in big defeats to top four sides.  Losing to West Ham a few times didn't help either, but one was in the League Cup (important to West Ham, not so much for us).  A couple of games saw bizarre incidents (Sandro's o.g. at Chelsea; Lloris' slice at Man City in the first few seconds), some bad luck (Krul's performance in the 0-1 defeat a the Lane by Newcastle; Morrison's one piece of decent play all season for West Ham) and some unfortunate decisions (Paulinho's sending off at home to Liverpool) which added to the extent of the defeats.

Letting in only two goals in our first eleven matches was a very good record and while the attacking fluency wasn't exactly that of the previous season's, settling in new players and losing Bale were major factors in that.  The defence had been tightened and the away form was really very good, both things which have failed Tottenham in the recent past.  But the fall out with Adebayor was probably the major factor in his departure.  Why this was so to Levy, I am not sure, as AVB was not the first manager Ade has not got on with.

But go he did and in the Portuguese's place Timbo was shuffled up from Development Team Manager to take charge of the side and brought with him the players "he knew best" and discarded a lot of those who were brought in during the summer or who had performed well for the first eleven. It was a weird time, as Sherwood blew his own trumpet about the stats during his reign.  As the points were racked up, so was Sherwood's ego and his Harry Redknapp sabre rattling about being manager for ten years and wanting a contract ahead of others who were being mentioned for the job would only end one way and at the end of the season there was thanks for his work but no thanks for an extended stay in the manager's office. 

His brief had probably included the need to qualify for the Champions League, but his record against the top four and West Ham not being much better than AVB's, it makes you wonder if the pay off we made to the latter would have been better saved and put towards a forward in the January transfer window.

Summer time is s time for relaxing and contemplating.  Daniel Levy had a lot of contemplating to do before the appointment of a new manager, with a long list of people willing to jump into Tim's shoes (and his gilet), including a few who would be leading teams at the World Cup finals. Cesare Prandelli of Italy, Holland's Louis van Gaal and former Spurs striker Jurgen Klinsmann of the USA.  But in the end, the new man who is lucky enough to lead Spurs into the new season came from closer to home.  The Argentinian who had much a impressive impact at Southampton was selected as the one who can take the club to that exclusive next level.

No doubt Levy was taken by Poch's success in bringing young players into the side and making them into effective Premier League players; firstly because they cost less and secondly (as Southampton are currently proving), you can make a huge amount of money for them when sold. 

However, the crux of Tottenham's identity crisis and the key to any future success is are we just a breeding ground for good players or are we going to hang onto them and make a fist at winning the title and other important silverware ?

Poch has come with a promise of making the team more entertaining, along with a winning mentality.  Some of that will involve changes in personnel.  Already, some players have moved out - Gomes, Sigurdsson, Livermore - and more to go with Dawson, Paulinho, Soldado, Holtby and Chiriches rumoured to be out of Poch's thoughts for the coming season and Vertonghen being tempted by Barcelona.  Rumours abound about who else is coming in, but the one that really excites me is Antoine Griezmann, if Baldini can sell the deal. A attacking midfielder, he is a good creator and scorer, with a great engine, as demonstrated in the World Cup finals.

But how will all these players fit into the system and how will Poch get the best out of the players who didn't fare so well last season ?

You would have thought that Lewis Holtby, shunned by Sherwood, would be well-suited to a pressing game, as he scuttles around the midfield and uses the ball well.  While Paulinho got a lot of criticism during the World Cup, with many asking what does he actually do, the style of play employed this season might bring the best out of him.  He had been playing for the best part of two years without a break, so hopefully, he might come back refreshed.  Maybe only to find he is on his way to Juventus as Artur Vidal's replacement if the papers are to be believed, but he might be more involved than in last season's line-ups.

Soldado is one who I would like to see prosper under Poch, with a more continental style perhaps making his ability in the box more useful.  Inter Milan are linked with him, as well as a few Spanish clubs, but if he can get a couple of goals from open play, it will help his confidence and I think a lot of the crowd and the players want him to do well, especially the way the players were trying to set him up with a goal in the last home game of the season against Villa.

Lamela already seems more at ease in the new boss' set-up, with a couple of goals in midweek against Toronto, as well as his general play seeing him more involved than last season, when he was in and out of the side.  Capoue has also had a chance to show Poch what he can do and looked comfortable against Toronto, while Chadli has shown fleeting glimpses of a player being able to make something happen, but the new boss will need to coax that out of him more often.  Eriksen looks like he could be a star with his performances towards the end of the season being excellent.  The challenge for Poch is to work his team around him

Almost anyone who looks like leaving their team gets linked with a move to White Hart Lane, so Morgan Schneiderlin, Jay Rodriguez, Mattia Destro, Nikola Vlasic, Douglas Costa, Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto'o, James McCarthy, Memphis Depay, Valon Behrami, Max Kruse, Andrea Pirlo, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Carlos Tevez, John Stones, Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell and Julian Draxler will all make good additions to our massive squad !!

It will be under an intense spotlight that Pochettino operates, with the stats men ready to slam Levy if the Argentinian falls below Sherwood's win percentage, but stats do not tell the whole story.  Obviously given a brief to get the team playing in an attacking style, Mauricio must get the defence right and ensure the team is fit enough to play the pressing game he is noted for.  They started playing like this for AVB, but maybe they weren't up to the physical demands and that was why they faded in those games when we got heavily beaten.  To be physically fit and mentally strong go hand in hand, so there will be tough training for the players.

The club have made a little headway with the Government finally enforcing a Compulsory Purchase Order for the remaining one business on Paxton Road, which will allow phase three of the development to start.  The intended opening of the new stadium is 2017, but the preceding year might see Spurs having to play away from the Lane, contrary to the original plan to build the ground so that three sides of the new ground could be used while the new South Stand was built on.  There are concerns that the venue for these "home" matches could be Brighton and Hove Albion, Ipswich Town, Wembley or Milton Keynes. Now Wembley is the nearest option, but the others are way out of reach for a lot of supporters and for night games would be nigh on unreachable in time for kick off and it would be unknown what time you would get home from there.

Negotiations to use the Olympic Stadium have unsurprisingly come to nothing and use of the Boleyn ground is also a bit of a non-runner. 

No explanation has been given as to why the original plan has been binned, so it might be nice to know why.

Off the pitch, the new kit has been revealed, with the home kit a bit messy with lines all over the shirt and the usual fuss kicked up about the red logo, which doesn't appear on the away strip.  It is nice to see a tribute to Bill Nicholson included, but something more permanent than a kit that lasts one season might have been more appropriate.  If it was intended to use Sir Bill as a marketing tool to sell some bits of plastic, I would regard this as plumbing new depths.  Bill Nick is a legend.  The man and his ideas should be used to inspire the aims and ambitions he had for the club.  Not for this.

With a limited pre-season programme, it allows the team to get to know each other and the manager, so hopefully, that all the rhetoric about being ready for the opening game of the season will be geared up for August 19th.  The team might look a bit different by the end of September, but the eleven in the lilywhite, blue and yellow shirts need to make a positive start to the season, as those in the media will be ready to pounce.

Here goes for another nine months of thrills and spills (although less of the spills will do !!) ...

Keep the faith.


MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
AND THE SPURS GO MARCHING ON.

BRUCE CASTLE

 

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