Has Pochettino brought a welcome change to Spurs' transfer policy?
On 1st September 2013, Spurs were handed a transfer budget worthy of kings. They had of course, expected it a couple of months before.
But Daniel Levy, normally a strict, unforgiving chairman knew that the world record transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £85 million would always happen. He therefore, decided to open his cheque book frequently.
Former Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, now at Zenit St. Petersburg, spent more money in one season than any other Tottenham manager; a grand total of £105 million was disbursed on expensive foreign imports, including Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado for £26 million each and Paulinho for £17 million.
But since then, it’s fair to say that only two of the seven signed with Bale’s transfer fee have made a significant impact; Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen and Belgian Nacer Chadli.
Along with the three I mentioned previously, Vlad Chiriches and Etienne Capoue have also failed to make a substantial impact. So who is keeping Spurs competitive?
Well the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as manager has certainly helped, making Spurs a lot more potent when they go forward, and more assured in defence. But it’s the Argentine’s faith in Spurs’ English contingent that has made the most difference in comparison to last season.
Breakthrough players such as Ryan Mason, the insatiable Harry Kane and the signing of Eric Dier, who was a lot cheaper than Villas-Boas’ foreign signings at £4 million from Sporting Lisbon, have excelled.
Adding these three to the English first-teamers from last season – Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend, Spurs and Pochettino are utilising their home-grown talent to its fullest potential.
It’s a welcome sight to see in the Premier League, with teams so often going abroad to find new talent, or choosing a non-Englishman to play over a native player, perhaps opting for experience rather than youth.
And this so sudden after Villas-Boas got rid of many English players, including Steven Caulker, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker to make room for his new players.
Even on Saturday, Spurs’ 2-1 away win at Loftus Road against Queens Park Rangers was masterminded by English players; the man who can do no wrong – Kane, scored both goals to take his tally to 26 this season, with assists from Mason and Townsend.
And Queens Park Rangers head coach Chris Ramsey, who was head of youth development at White Hart Lane for over nine years, nurturing players like Kane, Mason and Townsend, praised Pochettino’s mentality before Saturday’s match: “To Tottenham’s credit Pochettino has come in without any prompting and been very, very brave.
“He’s been very unbiased towards expensive players and has selected on form. He has enhanced his reputation for dealing with young players; he’s gone in and done it his way. He’s done really well for English football.”
But of course this home-grown approach is nothing new for Pochettino. The 43-year-old previously managed Southampton where he took advantage of The Saints’ brilliant youth academy.
We all know that the academy at St. Mary’s Stadium has the ability to produce significant world-class talent. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and of course, Gareth Bale all started out at Southampton.
But last season, the former Espanyol manager brought through talent like James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers, who before Pochettino arrived were virtually unheard of.
Ward-Prowse is now a Southampton regular under Ronald Koeman, whilst Luke Shaw transferred to Manchester United for £30 million, a world-record transfer fee for a teenager, and Chambers went to Arsenal for £16 million.
The point is, Pochettino trusts his youth systems and the players that they produce. He gives them the faith and the confidence needed to be able to play to a standard where it would appear they’ve been plying their trade in the Premier League for years.
And although Spurs are sitting in sixth, the same position they finished in last year, they’ve managed to do it with more respect and with less money spent.
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