After a university induced absence, I was fortunate enough to time my return to White Hart Lane with Tottenham’s demolition of West Brom in a near perfect performance. Over the past few seasons, a typically stubborn Pulis defence has been a thorn in the side of recent Spurs teams. But not on this occasion.
I was also nervously watching Spurs get battered by Man City at the Etihad and somehow coming away with a draw. In the end I was relieved with a point, considering how the game had panned out. However, before kick-off I would have been a little disappointed with a draw given Tottenham’s current form. Long gone are the days of losing 6-0 away to Man City and I suppose 4/6 points against one of our top 6 rivals is a good achievement. However, my disappointment and the overall resilience shown by the team is a testament to Pochettino who has changed the mentality of the club; players and supporters alike.
I don’t see anybody catching Chelsea, but I’m not against believing that we can win the league. Poch has stated publicly that he thinks Spurs can win the title and are deserving of their place amongst the biggest clubs in the league. But, I think ultimately a long string of draws at the start of the season will be our downfall yet again. Top 4 however is a must. Based on the evidence so far this season I think it is hard to look past the Spurs current XI as being the strongest in the league. If everybody is fit there doesn’t appear to be any obvious weaknesses. Is this the season Spurs finally finish above Arsenal? I bloody well hope so.
With this current squad of players, all Spurs fans would love them to win some silverware this season. There are only so many Sundays I feel like watching Woodgate’s deflected winner on the Carling Cup 2008 winner’s DVD, the novelty wears off after a while. The FA cup is surely our best bet and scraping past Wycombe might just be a sign that it is our year. It will also be interesting to see how Poch handles squad rotation in the Europa League. The inevitable mid-afternoon kick offs on channel 4 + 1 will surely be a lower priority than the league. Perhaps a chance for the second string to play, gradually introducing first XI players as 4th place in the league slips away? Whatever happens, I hope the ‘last season at White Hart Lane’ can propel us to achieve something special this year.
Despite the change in mentality, Spurs wouldn’t be Spurs without anxiety inherently embedded in every fan. These panic attacks are made even worse in the current Premier League era where anyone can beat anyone. The biggest potential hazard is the possibility of injury. We saw what happened when Alderweireld and Kane were out for long spells at the start of the season, particularly since the latter’s goals have been paramount in Spur’s recent success. Vincent Janssen has not been able to reduce the burden of Kane’s goals and has already drawn comparisons to Spurs legend Roberto Soldado.
Although Pochettino likes to focus on one game at a time, being a fan, it is hard not to speculate about the future. Obvious long term challenges include playing at a neutral ground next season before moving into the revamped White Hart Lane, complete with microbrewery and a see-through tunnel. We have seen the early struggles of rivals West Ham moving into the Olympic Stadium. A huge increase in seats allows more fans, but it also allows more tourists. Keeping the core set of supporters together will be crucial to preserving the atmosphere.
However, the biggest challenge for the club will undoubtedly be the attempt to keep hold of the current squad of players. With Spur’s wage budget comparatively lower than their main rivals and young English assets such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane it may be hard to resist the financial power of other clubs. But, the biggest asset is surely the manager himself. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes frantically checking BBC sport to assure myself Pochettino hasn’t left and all is good in the world. If he decides to stay I am hopeful he can maintain the current progress at the club to ensure we match the expectations of our rising stars.
The squad can always be improved, especially considering the gulf in class between our first and second XI. A decent back up for Kane is paramount, although realistically who can you bring in the January transfer window who is proven and willing to play second fiddle? Another centre-half if I’m being picky? I haven’t been convinced with Dier at the back this season and I’m still not sold on Wimmer. A ‘world class’ player would be nice, although this term is so overused nowadays. Someone in midfield who can produce a bit of magic and score goals. I’m still waiting on that Isco transfer from our sister club Real Madrid…
But for now, things look good at Tottenham. Pochettino has got the whole club believing. Let’s just hope they can stay that way.