Problems at Spurs but there’s a glimmer of hope



Morale is pretty low at Spurs after a summer of optimism. Some might say nothing much changes.

I still think that Pochettino is the man for the job but I am starting to worry about the players. They have ability but the overall blend seems wrong, they don’t fit the manager’s preferred style and there is a lack of leadership in the squad.

We all knew in the summer that there were some problem areas – left back, centre back, striker. Not all were addressed and those that did arrive have been even more of a disappointment than last year. Ben Davies has looked poor against smaller teams in the cups, Fazio has now been sent off twice in a handful of appearances and Stambouli is yet to start in the Premier League.

As for at striker and central midfield, we are relying on youth team products – Harry Kane and Ryan Mason. Of course it’s good that these players have forced there way into the side but it’s a big ask to expect them to carry our season.

For me we have four big problems:

  • 1. A lack of width.

It is too easy to shut us down by congesting the centre of the pitch. Normally width is provided by the fullbacks in Pochettino’s preferred 4-2-3-1 but ours just aren’t up to it. If we could ever get him fit, Walker would be perfect in this role.

  • 2. Problems defending balls behind our defence.

The system calls for mobile, intelligent centre backs. How we could have done with Musacchio!

  • 3. Pressure on the ball.

Pochettino was known for his high pressing but that hasn’t happened enough at Spurs. Opponents are free to pick their passes which has contributed to point 2.

  • 4. A lack of leadership.

Kaboul has not worked out as captain. Nobody takes responsibility and heads drop too easily.

So why has this happened?

While Pochettino has to take some of the responsibility (he chose the captain for a start), a large part of the blame has to fall at the feet of Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini. There has been a lack a coherent strategy when it comes to player recruitment, while the turnover of managers hasn’t helped.

A glimmer of hope

The news that Southampton head of recruitment and Pochettino ally, Paul Mitchell, is on his way to Spurs is very welcome. Much has been made of our poor scouting network and lack of a well defined transfer strategy. Mitchell brings a more targeted scientific approach.

Baldini may still be useful in the role he should have had all along – as a negotiator with a network of connections to agents, not as an identifier of talent or strategy.

The most promising aspect of Mitchell’s appointment is that, as someone who has worked well with Pochettino before, it is a signal that the manager is here to stay. After a high turnover of managers, how can anyone impose his will on the squad? A player doesn’t have to buy in to an ideology, he just has to wait until Levy gets impatient and the next guy comes along.

The short term doesn’t look good but with a revised transfer approach and some patience, the future might look a little better.

Follow me on Twitter: @ABPSpurs

Who is to blame for Spurs poor performances? What would you change? Let me know in the comments below.


14 thoughts on “Problems at Spurs but there’s a glimmer of hope


    The trouble with Spurs is that they do not play collectively. Perhaps, players are placed in the wrong position or Pochettino rotates them too much game after game so that they do not get used to playing with one another. I would hate to predict the result against Hull City this weekend because Spurs have become a very unpredictable team. If they succumb to defeat again, I would not at all be surprised but I hope not.

    1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

      I agree they don’t play as a team but I think that’s because players don’t suit the system, don’t put faith in the manager (because he might be gone by next week) and don’t show leadership.

  2. ped

    agree … 2 or 3 more losses will see us in a relegation fight & that would be poch gone.. however if rumours are correct & we get the saints talent scout then that might be a sign that levy is looking to accommodate poch for a while yet.
    either way things can’t get much worse… can they?

  3. Paul Black

    Great article and spot on,but Poch is supposed to get the best out of this group
    because that is what a good coach should do.Sadly the QPR game apart we have been abysmal
    clueless,spineless and leaderless but his selections seem somewhat lacking.
    Are we saying Stambouli is not better than Capoure I hope so are we saying playing with no width is the way forward is Dembele not worth a place,begs the question does he know what he is doing

  4. Big Mal

    When we were signing Robinson, Lennon, Huddlestone, Bale, Dawson et al for next to nothing no one said we had a recruitment problem. Neither when we signed Carrick, Berbatov, Modric, VDV etc. We simply failed to spend the Bale money wisely because Baldini did not realise that it takes considerable time to settle in England where, although the quality is not great, the pace and intensity is. Chadli and Eriksen are doing pretty well and developing; Soldado has been extremely unlucky; Paulinho has looked quality at times and awful at others; we should never have spent big money on Lamela but he might just turn into a top player; Vlad has great quality but needs to wise up to what the PL is all about so get Ledley to work with him. Capoue is as good as most holding players but just wasn’t needed and isn’t special. We should have brought in some players who were used to the PL and not spent so much on Lamela. (Every ‘expert’ thought Soldado was a brilliant signing.) Our recruitment has been pretty good under Levy. Sadly, when we had loads of money we thought that having a very strong squad was the answer which was only half the answer – we needed some quality. I think Baldini was ill judged and Levy knows it hence bringing in Mitchell. Now, of course, we are balancing recruitment with the needs for a new stadium so there is very little to spend unless we, once again, sell so Mitchell will be looking for some bargains. Players coming from the Academy are real quality and some of the U15 – U18 are sensational where recruitment is excellent due to players in London wanting to have the best facilities in Europe and a decent chance of getting in the first team squad quickly. This is a transition period which fans don’t want to hear, but as the league is proving (and always will) if you don’t have a billionaire pumping money in you won’t win the league and you may not get in the top 4. Even Manchester United are struggling to compete and have had to spend £150m that they haven’t got just to stand still. Southampton have had two decent teams this season – Tottenham and Liverpool – and lost them both! Keep the faith

  5. tberry56Scorpio

    There are three main problems which Levy should have have been aware of when he used Baldini to recruit the players. Firstly, Baldini had no experience recruiting players in the premier league so the question is who was advising Baldini? Secondly, what was the transfer strategy? Thirdly, buying 7 new players plus reintroducing 2 loan players (Townsend and Rose) was a massive change and would be hard for any team to cope with. Look at Liverpool, they have made the same mistake as Spurs and are struggling.

    There appears to be no logic about the type of players Spurs purchased. Spurs previously bought young English talent and quickly sorted out the gems from the average players. What happened to that strategy?

    Paying £30m for Lamela was a crazy gamble. The pressure on Lamela who is far from the finished player is unfair. He is not ready to be the main player he needs other people to take the weight of expectations off his shoulder. Chiriches is very skilful but looks physically unsuited to the premier league. At least this summer Spurs bought a few players with premier league experience, but their quality again does not seem to be great.

    I can only hope Levy get’s it right this time. He can’t keep blaming the manger for his mistakes.

    1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

      Buying all those players at once was a huge gamble but if he hadn’t we’d probably have complained he was sitting on the money!

      I’m hoping for one or two big purchases in January. Maybe a CB, a CM or a striker?

  6. jimspurs

    think the system will work better when walker is back,teams unbalanced. think poch made a mistake with the captaincy/vice captaincy but in his defense he hardly knew the players and probably opted for the senior members of the squad,defintley play stambouli instead of capoue. he looks like he wants to win the ball when he goes into the tackle which is more than 50 per cent of the team,play soldado and kane with the inverted wingers their one touch football can open up any team,hoping now the worse is over ktf

    1. OC7

      I think you are spot on. Walker is the missing piece of the jigsaw; having an attacking outlet on the right side will give everyone else more room to play. Eriksen, Lamela, Soldado… all they need is a yard of space to thread a killer pass.

      Also, Stambouli needs to play. He has quality and tenacity in equal measure; whereas Capoue seems to be more easily bypassed without making making an impression on the game.

      Yedlin is meant to be on his way in January? Another exciting prospect. Shame Naughton has turned out to be such a damp squib.

      Lamela needs to learn to just put his foot through it without hesitation.

      I definitely agree we should be playing two strikers but so much depends on having that width from full-back. I do not rate Rose one bit but on one hand he does have pace and does get in to good positions. If he could cross, pass or shoot he would be deadly but as it is he’s best used as a decoy runner.

      Re the OP about the current system requiring mobile, intelligent CBs… Vertonghen and Chiriches are surely the best available candidates for this system?

      1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

        I would maybe go for Vertonghen and Dier at CB. Dier hasn’t been great at RB but that’s not his natural position.

        Stambouli seems worth a try. The centre is such a key role but we’ve passed up Moutinho and then Schneiderlin for AVB and Pochettino.

  7. OC7

    Before we talk about possible new signings I think we need to look at who can be moved on.

    Dembele and Paulinho should have no shortage of options. Townsend I think will be a good signing for a lot of teams. All good players on their day but for whatever reason we just cannot get the best out of them and they would not be missed.

    Rather than a CM, I think bringing in at least one natural wide player should be the priority… Konoplyanka would be great.

      1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

        Pritchard is an interesting one. I have to say I haven’t seen him play much.

        We definitely need to prune the squad.

        We have a lot of CMs but do we have a Carrick or Modric to dictate play and knit the team together.

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