Why Spurs will get top four

by Sam Mills

Pochettino SpursTottenham Hotspur have almost been the forgotten club of this summer. Their transfer activity has been minimal, inactivity emphasised by their seven signings and £105 million bill last summer; and their performance last term was underwhelming.

However, the least fancied of the top six Premier League clubs to finish in the top four (at a lengthy 7/2) may just defy the bookies.

Tottenham Hotspur will finish in the top four. Why? Well…

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur have endured a few years of shaky management. It began with the departure of the loved Harry Redknapp amid the increasing pressure of the England managerial vacancy. After Redknapp exited, the stylish, suit-wearing Portuguese Andre Villas Boas took the helm, treating Spurs fans to months of uninspired performances and consistently good results. Alas, after drab performances at Liverpool and Manchester City, AVB got the sack.

The man who replaced AVB was almost the exact opposite in all facets. Tim Sherwood, a former player at White Hart Lane, filled the endearing, down-to-Earth, tracksuit-wearing void left by Harry Redknapp. Sherwood too had an impressive tenure as head coach of Spurs, winning 59.1% of the Premier League games he took charge in, before receiving his P45 just five months into his contract.

He began his managerial career at Espanyol, taking the reins as the third manager at the Catalan club in one season. The club were third from bottom on Pochettino’s arrival; by the end of the season they were a comfortable 10th, as occurred in the following season. Clearly, Pochettino is competent. He likes quick tempo of football with high pressing and short passing, something that should suit Tottenham and quell the increasing reliance on individuals to achieve results that has emerged at the Lane in recent years.

We all know about the Argentine’s attainment at Southampton: bringing through wonderful talents such as Jay Rodriguez, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Calum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse; introducing a modern, progressive style of football and establishing Southampton as a top-half side. If he has one flaw, it is his regular use of a translator in post-match interviews.

Pochettino will reinvigorate and rejuvenate Spurs. He will inject energy and exuberance into a floundering, dithering side. After such tumultuous yet successful years, the appointment of Argentine gaffer Mauricio Pochettino should steady the proverbial ship

Strength in depth

Tottenham Hotspur have a fantastic squad. A squad to rival any team in the Premier League. The spine of their team is exceptional, namely, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Roberto Soldado (sort of).

Not only does Pochettino have enviable talent at his disposal, the talent runs deep throughout the squad: seven of Spurs’ squad featured in the World Cup. Anchor man Etienne Capoue made only 12 appearances last term while German international Lewis Holtby was loaned out to Fulham during the winter of 2013; the underuse of players of such ability indicates the sheer amount of quality at White Hart Lane.

Strength in depth is a vital component in any title push – Tottenham’s enviable squad will facilitate their push for the top four. Every position is covered: they have five accomplished centre-backs, six full-backs, seven central midfielders (six of whom were involved last season) and four international wingers. The squad depth will not only allow players to rotate to maintain fitness and stave off fatigue, but the depth of the squad will mean every player is playing for their position – no player can rest on their laurels.

Transfers

As alluded to earlier, Spurs have been relatively dormant in the transfer market, but they have made some discerning recruits. Welsh left-back Ben Davies has been swapped for Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson in a deal that suits both clubs. Meanwhile, Swansea have seen Michel Vorm switch to the North London club for a shade under £4 million in a move that baffles in its unavailing nature.

Ben Davies will serve to provide a strong alternative to shackled left winger Danny Rose who was suspect for Spurs in the important games, wandering out of position too often and making costly errors that stem from inexperience. Likewise Michel Vorm will provide pressure for Hugo Lloris to perform, helping eek the very best from the Frenchman.

The final procurement this summer is England under 21 international Eric Dier. Dier is a Cheltenham-born centre-back who has lived in Portugal since the age of ten, when his mother received a job offer to work during the 2004 European Championships. Since 2003 Dier has been a member of Sporting Lisbon’s famed academy and, while I cannot promise Dier is the next Ronaldo or Figo, he is certainly a promising talent and an astute acquisition. He reads the game well (which, unusually, does not mean he is slow) and he can play out of defence with adeptness.

By the same end, the men leaving Spurs have, to say the least, overstayed their welcome. They have raked in £8 million pounds for ineffective midfielder Jake Livermore; moreover, eccentric shot-stopper and big-earner Gomes has left.

Less positively, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Iago Falque have both left. Sigurdsson scored some crucial goals last season and was one of the few players who put in a performance quasi-frequently. Similarly, Falque is a prospect with genuine potential who has been wasted by excessive loans and now walks for a fraction of his potential value.

Yet, in summary, Tottenham’s transfer activity has been largely productive. Ben Davies and Eric Dier are both shrewd signings who will supplement Tottenham’s Premier League efforts. Additionally, the wage bill has fallen significantly with the departures.

Youth

Spurs are, if we are brutally honest, saturated with overpaid internationals. Very few of their first team have the genuine exuberance of youth, which is why the younger members of the Spurs squad will be invaluable in their top four surge. There are times in a Premier League campaign when a club must rely on the hunger of youth, and Tottenham have an abundance of hungry players, chomping at the bit for an opportunity.

In defence, 21-year-olds Zeki Fryers (once of Manchester United) and Ryan Fredericks who will both be snapping at the heels of starting full-backs Walker and Rose for a first team spot. English forward Harry Kane, who was slowly integrated into the first team towards the end of last season, will continue his involvement after a brief foretaste of his potential against the likes of Sunderland and Fulham.

Plus, former Barcelona trequartista Cristian Ceballos, who scored eight and set up two in ten appearances in the under 21 Premier League and impressed on loan at Arouca, may be included this term.

The final and most celebrated youngster at Tottenham currently is Algerian central midfielder Nabil Bentaleb. Tim Sherwood’s favourite last term, Bentaleb played 13 times between December and May, exhibiting composure and anticipation beyond his years. Principally an energetic ball-winning midfielder – he makes 2.6 tackles per game – Bentaleb infrequently bursts forward a la Yaya Toure and rarely loses the ball (his pass completion last season was roughly 88%). Moreover, he had been endowed with considerable athleticism and physical presence; making for a fearsome opponent and a key asset for Tottenham.

Bentaleb was exceptional last term and will continue to impress, much like his fellow adolescents at White Hart Lane. The enthusiasm and zeal of youth is indispensable, and will certainly aid Tottenham’s rise to the top four.

Erik Lamela

Lastly, and most importantly, in the reasons why Tottenham Hotspur will achieve a top four finish in May 2015, is Argentina international Erik Lamela. With a Gareth Bale-sized hole in Tottenham’s midfield that Lamela was expected to fill, the marquee signing buckled under the pressure and endured a troublesome campaign, making just three starts and setting up just one goal.

For the majority of the season Lamela was injured or recuperating, demonstrating a worrying injury proneness. He collapsed under intense expectation, heightened by a staggering transfer fee. Last season was a non-event, inspiring disenchantment among the Tottenham faithful. Lamela was lightweight and unconvincing.

Regardless of his failings last season, Lamela is undeniably gifted. He is quick, skilful and captivating on the ball. At River Plate Lamela was widely regarded as the poster boy of Argentina’s bright new future, securing a move to Roma after just 19 appearances for £12 million.

His first year at Roma was unspectacular. In 31 appearances, he scored a mere four goals, scoring against divisional strugglers such as Cesena and Novara. Such a return makes for encouraging reading for Spurs fans – he does not hit the ground running. But more encouraging is his performance for Roma in the 2012/13 campaign, as he scored 15 goals and set up five goals in just 31 appearances.

During Tottenham’s Europa League campaign, Lamela showed glimpses of his true ability, scoring and setting up three in six appearances. There has been further demonstration of his talent during pre-season: he netted twice in the defeat of Toronto while Pochettino has lauded his attitude and quality. He has the potential to match Gareth Bale’s impact in North London, and he will in the coming seasons.

 

People scoffed at the disappointment Spurs endured last season, especially after the staggering amount of money they spent last year. I believe that this is the year Spurs’ transfer exploits of last summer come to fruition.

With an Argentine coach, a new season ahead, a new style of football to play and a more focussed atmosphere at Tottenham, this year will be Tottenham’s year.

18 Responses

  1. Fred Tissue says:

    Really?????

  2. Ivan says:

    Ben Davies will be starting fullback for us this season, Rose will be backup.

  3. Stuart says:

    GOOD effort WITH THE ARTICLE. WELL WRITTEN

  4. Bob says:

    A poor article to be honest.

    When one titles “why spurs will get top 4″, it must always be compared to other clubs within the league. It was too inward looking, without taking into consideration how other clubs in competition for the top 4 places have progresses or regressed. It’s as if spouting the logic just because spurs will be better this year they will therefore be top 4. This type of thinking lacks perspective and analysis.

  5. Lemmy Lurch says:

    Spurs have the 6th largest revenues in the EPL hence they will most likely finish 6th as the EPL is essentially only about relative financial power

  6. Bob says:

    I would like to think that Spurs will finish in the top 4 but I very much doubt it. Still weak in defence and going forward. Much the same players as last season and I can’t forget the many severe drubbings we received from the top 4 teams and even the Hammers did us twice. Looks like Pochettino has been told to get on with players bought last season which puts tremendous pressure on him right away. The thing is no new manager can make Dawson, Kaboul and even Vertonghen run any quicker than their legs can carry them and these guys were cruelly exposed so often last term. As a supporter for over 50 years I hope the new boss can work wonders as I think he needs to,but he also needs immediate support from Levy and Baldini in the pursuit of new players. Lots of Media speculation about possible new players at the Lane but it appears speculation is all it really is.

  7. Chi-Y Word says:

    Bob, hate to pick you up on this, but West Ham beat us 3 times last season. Poor comment, woefully introspective and lacking in research of the subject.

    Lemmy, do Tottenham have a higher revenue than Man Utd? Mr Levy will be pleased!

    The truth is, of course we can finish fourth. We could win the league with a 2 point gap over Burnley in second. Will we? Probably not, but that’s the beauty of it! Aim so high that even failure will echo with glory! To dare is to do!

    Hate the pessimism of so-called fans that just moan endlessly. “Our defenders aren’t quick enough…”. Err, kaboul at full speed is one of the fasted in the squad, even when Bale was around. Speed does not equate to a good defender. The reason we got hammered so many times last season was commitment and confidence issues that went through most of the squad. I thought AVB was great, I liked what he was doing, but there seemed to be something wrong with the way we prepared against the top four.

    And just as a side note, Moaning Minnies, by definition, are not “fans”. You cannot be fanatically miserable. Bugger off. I’m sure the Wenger out brigade would welcome you with open arms!

  8. Chi-Y Word says:

    Btw, good article Sam. Keep em coming!!

  9. Lemmy Lurch says:

    Chi Y are you seriously suggesting the Man U will finish below Spurs this season !! Really funny how people can write such things but when real money is involved it all changes ,just check the betting odds to see the where the team will finish and its basically in revenue order now why do YOU think this is?. It is astonishing how Spurs finish above a Man U team once in 20+ years and you assume that is somehow a precedent ,idiot. If you can do the maths try regressing position in League against either Wage Bill or Revenues and you will see the my point about revenues being the only important thing is completely mathematically correct . FACT

  10. Chi-Y Word says:

    Wow. OK. I agree that revenue is important, I never said it wasn’t. Mr Levy has positioned us fantastically in the emerging American market, and our new stadium will help us bat on a level wage playing field as some of the bigger boys. I just didn’t agree with your statement that revenue = league position. No need for name calling!

  11. Chi-Y Word says:

    Idiot.

  12. Madcap says:

    Actually Kaboul is faster than Lennon, this was revealed by a Spurs squad player the name of whom eludes me. Allegedly he was also faster than Gareth Bale. Don’t forget that he has suffered a string of injuries over the last two seasons. As for the rest of the defence Spurs have strengthened with the signings of Davies and Dier

  13. Chi-Y Word says:

    Also, what was Everton’s revenue last season? All I’m saying is that just because you have lots of fans that give you money, it doesn’t always translate to performances on the pitch.

  14. Lemmy Lurch says:

    Chi Y you must find football very confusing , I can just imagine your confused face when Man City won the league not that many years from being in the third tier. what did you think happened ? Did they find a magical new formation because money could not be the answer could it ? LOL

  15. Ilovespurs says:

    Revenue doesn’t determine where you finish you idiot- are you now trying to tell me that Atletico Madrid make more money than Barcelona and Real Madrid? Newcastle probably make more money than Atletico yet who reached the champions league final and won their league?
    Borussia Dortmund are an amazing example of how youth and great determination, organisation and management can allow you to be one of the best- yes money does play a big part- but it does not determine where you finish- Manchester United have loads of money- yet it was management on the pitch that let them down- spurs had so much money last season- they made £85 million from one bloody player yet that didn’t propel them to the top of the table did it? What we need is belief, good management and players giving 110% in every game we play- if we had 10 Holtbys on the pitch last season we wouldn’t have finished 6th yet management was so poor last season- when you go away to Anfield and play Siggurdson and Benteleb in centre midfield- 2 who have never played together- one who isn’t even a centre mid then that tells you a lot- yes Spurs can finish in the top 4- it will be very hard- but we have very good players- Erikson had better stats than bloody Ozil and he was playing in the poorer team- Lamela is an excellent player- he was just so unfortunate last season- Holtby will run all day- he’s got passion, he cares and that will rub off onto the other members of the squad-Hugo is up there with Neuer as one of the best keepers in the world- Vertoghen at centre back is as good if not better than Vemarlen who has gone to Barcelona- we have a lot of good young players like Benteleb, Davis, Dier- who are all under 21 to add to that- we have built a very good foundation we just need someone who can put the puzzle together- Poch seems like he’s getting them confident again and they are responding- last season Atletico Madrid were really inspiring and showed the rest that it is possible to overcome and beat the so called “big boys” and just like Atletico we have an Argentinian at the helm who just might make a difference.

  16. Chi-Y Word says:

    Hmmm, I think there is an important distinction to be made here. Some clubs are grown through years of hard work and a determination to improve. Man Utd, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal fall into this bracket, as well as Everton, Southampton and pretty much the rest of the Premier League. Other clubs are toys for the super rich, a way to launder their dirty money that have ruined the game by vastly increasing transfer fees. I don’t blame the players – if someone were to tell me that my services to a company were worth millions of pounds, I’d expect that to be replicated in what they paid me. Personally, if Spurs were bought by a Russian or Saudi and turned the club into something distasteful, that’s the day I stop supporting them.

    BUT, for all the money that has been thrown at them, have Chelsea or Man City dominated the league? No. They haven’t. Because it’s about what happens on the pitch. It’s about what happens in the changing room. It’s about what happens on the training pitch. It’s not just about what happens in the boardroom. It’s about forging bonds, about teamwork. It’s about the players wanting to play for the manager and for each other, not just for themselves. It’s not about money, it’s about what you do with it. Last summer we spent over £100m. Y. That’s why we struggled last season – at times we looked like a bunch of strangers, BECAUSE THEY WERE!!! This season the squad is much more settled. Instagram alone will show you the bonds are there now.

    Me, I’m not bitter about other teams having money, they’ll get found out eventually. It just makes it more of a challenge to break into the top four, and therefore a greater reward. Plus with Liverpool, Utd, City, arsenal and Chelsea all going for it, at least one massive club has to miss out every year

  17. Lemmy Lurch says:

    Ilove Spurs completely missed the point it is the EPL where the correlation coefficient for revenues/wage bill to league potion is so utterly overwhelming it reduces anything else to irrelevance in anything other than very short time frames (1 season for Man U 1 season for Chelski as examples) quoting other leagues not dominated by money the same way just shows you miss the point . Just continue to live in your fantasy world where the top 4 is a great unknown LOL yes perhaps Burnley will break into the top 4 because you never know in this funny old game right? I mean Watford did it in the 80’s and nothing has changed has it !

  18. Chi-Y Word says:

    Pessimism sucks dude. Let it go. Or stop watching the game. If you live in a world where nothing is changeable, no obstacles can be overcome then what’s the point of it all.

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