The 27th May 2014 might not, at the time, have seemed a day that would prove all that consequential. Spurs were getting through managers like flies, hadn’t qualified for the Champions League since 2010, and the squad lacked that ‘special something’.
Step forward the newly appointed head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, a man with less than two seasons of experience of English football. In his third season at White Hart Lane, Pochettino has qualified for the Champions League, seen his side feature in a cup final, and challenged for the Premier League title. So what has changed?
In short, Pochettino has revolutionised the club. It’s as simple as that; his recruitment team have got Spurs fantastic value for money. The backbone of the side in Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Dele Alli were purchased for a total of under £40m, while mercenaries were quickly shown the door. The eccentric Emmanuel Adebayor was released, captain Younes Kaboul sold, and players who weren’t up to standard told to leave, including Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, and Andros Townsend.
Even the names of those players remind fans of ‘Old Spurs’ – before the Pochettino era – a time where Spurs’ soft underbelly was exposed too frequently. Where flowing, attacking football was either non-existent or – under Tim Sherwood – there in abundance, but there was no method to the madness. Instead, Spurs now have a clear ethos – a club where young players thrive, where a solid defence provides the basis for exuberant attacking play, and where now one defeat does not spark meltdown amongst the fanbase.
But perhaps more importantly, Pochettino has found formations, systems and training techniques that make players better – one criticism often levied at the likes of Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood. For example, Danny Rose has been transformed into the best left-back in the league under Pochettino’s guidance, while Jan Vertonghen looks equally assured at centre-back next to Toby Alderweireld – a compliment not often given when Vertonghen partnered Kaboul, Chiriches or Fazio.
Eric Dier has come in and proven to be a rare breed of English midfielder – a defensive one – though with technical ability and a passing range to match this prowess, though only after some shaky performances in the centre of defence. Meanwhile, perhaps Erik Lamela is the pinnacle of Pochettino’s achievements; a technically gifted winger from Serie A has transformed into a physical attacker with a real hunger for the game.
All this, and not at the expense of Christian Eriksen’s creative skill, which remains untarnished throughout his time at the club, despite having played for three managers since he arrived.
Pochettino’s proven his worth at Spurs, and the fans sing his name after, and normally during, each game. The stability he has achieved at the club is something no manager in recent time has achieved; the manager and the chairman, Daniel Levy, clearly enjoy a good relationship. It’s something that no other manager in the league has done; to take Spurs from what they were to what they are now is perhaps his most significant achievement of all.
Arsene Wenger might have built a dynasty, Jose Mourinho might have won everything there is to win, and Pep Guardiola might have coached at the best clubs in European football, but all three relied, albeit to differing extents, on what was already there. The Argentine arrived with nothing.
Pochettino is one of the new breed of managers, tactically flexible and inventive, but off the pitch he’s done more than modernise the Spurs team – he’s transformed Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
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Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen could be one of Premier League’s greatest ever bargains
Christian Eriksen is getting better by the season and cost Spurs just £11.5 million.
This week has seen Arsenal legend Martin Keown singing the praises of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen. Speaking on BBC One’s Match of the Day (18th March) Keown stated:
“This player was always technically proficient, but he’s getting better all the time. It’s top level ability. He can pick a pass whenever he wants to. He just has everything.
“I enjoy watching him play. He wants to work, that’s part of the team ethic. He’s becoming the brains of the team.”
His comments came after Eriksen starred in the weekend win v Swansea City. The Dane scored twice as Tottenham booked their place in the FA Cup semi-final courtesy of a 3-0 triumph.
Keown then commented on the price Spurs paid for Eriksen back in 2013:
“I think they paid £12.5 million for him, that’s an absolute snip.”
Looking back now it is clear to see just how much of a bargain Spurs managed to bring in. Eriksen was approaching the end of his Ajax contract at the time, which did not help the Dutch side’s bargaining power.
Comparing Eriksen to his current contemporaries in the game it is clear to see just how incredible a deal this was for Spurs.
Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in January. The Brazilian cost a fee reported by Sky Sports to be £146 million. Tottenham fans will rightly believe that Eriksen is at least as good as the Barca newbie. In fact, many will suggest Eriksen is the superior operator.
Another barometer to consider in this case is that of Tottenham’s summer signing Davinson Sanchez. The Colombian, like Eriksen, was signed from Ajax but four years on and with circumstances different cost much more.
Sanchez cost a club record £42 million, according to the Guardian. That is a difference of over £30 million which highlights just how impressive the fee paid for Eriksen is. In the world of £200 million transfer fees looking back at the deal for Eriksen nearly five years ago will please Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
Tottenham will obviously hope they never have to sell the Dane. But if they did, the fee involved could easily amount to £100m-plus.
Which would certainly not be a bad return on the investment from Tottenham Hotspur’s point of view.
Sessegnon or Bale? Past or future? Spurs must make right move this summer
Tottenham Hotspur appear to be emerging as the frontrunners in the race to sign Fulham talent Ryan Sessegnon this summer.
The Times reported in January that Tottenham had made a £25 million bid the summer previously, but that Fulham value the teenager at around £50 million.
On top of that, Spurs are also being linked with a sensational move to bring Gareth Bale back to North London. Spanish source Diario Gol has reported that Bale is ready to leave Real Madrid this summer – and has decided a return to Spurs is his wish. Bale of course left Spurs for Madrid in what the Telegraph reported was a then world record £86 million fee.
It poses a big question for Spurs’s chairman Daniel Levy and manager Mauricio Pochettino. Do they start a new future, or go back to the past?
Sessegnon has been consistently compared to Bale in playing style. Much of that is down to his left-back origin. A lot of it is also down to his obvious precocious talent.
Tottenham will no doubt not be able to afford both players this summer. So what do they do?
The arrival of Bale would be a dream comeback. However, the Welshman turns 29 in June and has suffered with consistent injury problems over the past few years.
Sessegnon on the other hand is at the start of his career. The 17-year-old has already played nearly 70 professional games and scored 21 goals, many of those from left-back.
He would cost less than Bale and in the long-run would be a more stable investment. If Bale’s injury problems continued Tottenham could end up paying a larger sum for a player who cannot be relied upon.
Tottenham Hotspur should continue to look to the future in the case of Sessegnon or Bale. Bring in the Fulham star and hopefully reap the rewards.
Moroyin Omolabi released by Tottenham Hotspur one year after praise
The Nigerian defender briefly spent time on trial at Reading this year.
Nearly one year ago Tottenham Hotspur prospect Moroyin Omolabi was winning praise for his performances in the club’s youth teams.
After a win against Norwich City for the under-18s the Nigerian midfielder was given high praise by his manager John McDermott.
It came after he seamlessly dropped into a centre-back role for the game. Speaking to the official Tottenham Hotspur website after the game McDermott stated:
“Moroyin Omolabi, playing at centre-half, stood out against their front players who were very good.
“There were a lot of positives today and I was very proud of the way we played.”
It seemed that the 18-year-old might, therefore, be a player to keep tabs on for the Spurs first-team one day.
But despite impressing back in April of last year, it seems Omolabi has not progressed quite like Tottenham would have hoped.
In the most recent list of player registrations released by the FA the versatile teenager has been confirmed as released by Tottenham.
The 18-year-old left Spurs by mutual consent on the 27th February.
The teenager was a part of the UEFA Youth League squad for Spurs, but did not feature in a single game.
He played seven times in the Under-18 Premier League this campaign, scoring against West Ham back in October.
But after dropping out of contention at Spurs, the Nigerian spent time on trial at Reading – featuring in three games for the Berkshire club.
His final game for Tottenham appears to have been the 2-1 defeat against Fulham in October.
His failure to launch at Spurs just highlights the strength in depth Tottenham have in their youth ranks.
The teenager will now face a hunt for a new team in the summer, with his Tottenham days behind him.
It will be interesting to see if Reading follows up their interest in the player but Omolabi will now be on the hunt for a new team.
Hopefully, his education at Tottenham Hotspur will see him in good stead in his hunt for a professional career elsewhere.
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