Tottenham have slipped under the radar ahead of the season with the focus on Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. This is due to the new managers at each club, but there is something special being built at Spurs with Mauricio Pochettino at the helm.
He is an excellent young coach and Tottenham are entering the season during a period of stability, which could provide them with a great chance of succeeding once again this year. He was coy about their chances in his first pre-match press conference of the season. However, it is clear that he is happy with his squad and believes they can surpass last season’s achievements.
When asked about his targets for this season and if they could improve on last season, Pochettino said ‘that is our challenge, to improve our performance, to compete better and to achieve another level, but it is very hard because we are nearly on the top and sure the competition will be tough.’
This shows his ambition with Tottenham and that he isn’t going to downplay his team’s chances. Many in the media are expecting Spurs to drop out of the top four this season, due to their involvement in the Champions League. However, Pochettino believes in his squad and knows that the potential for growth is huge. The faith he has in his players is why Spurs have done minimal work in the transfer market, which is partially the reason they are being written off. Listening to Pochettino makes you recognise that the lack of transfer business is not due to there being a lack of ambition at White Hart Lane, but rather that they are happy with their squad. As a result, the desire to spend money doesn’t exist.
This is later confirmed when he was asked directly if he was worried about his side’s lack of spend compared to the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United. He answered ‘No I am not worried about that. That showed that when you spend a lot of money, it is because you are not happy with your squad or with your players and you are desperate to improve your squad. I am very happy with my players. I think it is very difficult to find better player than we have’.
Although he doesn’t rule out the possibility of ‘one or two’ signings before the end of the window. There is a clear process at the club and they will only bring in players, who are both the right characters and have the quality to succeed. They have augmented the squad well this summer with the additions of Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen. Any further additions will fit in the same mould and they won’t go into the market for the sake of it. Pochettino stated this about incoming transfers ‘we are open to add one or two players or maybe no one. For us it is very important to respect our process’. He went onto say ‘the way we work and our philosophy means it is a very difficult market for us’.
It has emerged in recent days that head of recruitment Paul Mitchell has handed in his resignation at the club and that has provided an unwanted backdrop to the beginning of Tottenham’s campaign. Pochettino was visibly upset when asked about Mitchell’s decision and said ‘yes, I am very disappointed with his decision. It is his personal choice. We had a relationship from Southampton and I feel very disappointed. But when a person takes a decision and it is personal, what can I do?’
Although it has come as a shock that he is set to leave, Pochettino added that he will remain until the transfer window ends, therefore it won’t have a huge effect until September.
Finally, when talking about the match against Everton, the Argentine was confident and stated that his players are ready for the start of the 2016/17 campaign. On Everton, he said they are a ‘very good team’, but his side’s preparation has been ‘positive’ and they are excited for the season ahead of the Champions League return this year.
Pochettino is an understated figure, but he inspires confidence. Spurs have gone under the radar and enter the season with relatively little expectation, despite being one of the standout sides of the 2015/16 campign. It is refreshing to see a club put faith in a group of players and not rely on big money signings every summer. It is going to be a tough year for the club with Champions League football to contend with, but they have a great chance of consolidating themselves in the top four under the Argentine.
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