Blogs | Fresh Spurs - Part 35


Nabil Bentaleb- From Teacher’s Pet To Midfield Anchor

Our performance against Everton has been lauded by fans for intensity and passion and quality that hasn’t been displayed so far this season. Several players have been credited for it, Vertonghen, Lennon, Kane, Soldado amongst them, but one player who went unnoticed but in my view was a pivotal factor was Nabil Bentaleb.

We all remember that December day away at Southampton when Tim Sherwood brought him off the bench and he showed us that day, that he could handle himself at the elite level in England but many assumed that he was playing because Sherwood was making a point. Bentaleb throughout the 2nd half of the season got branded ‘Teacher’s Pet’ by many for the amount of trust that was placed upon him and when he departed at the end of the season, most felt that Bentaleb would plummet down the pecking order at Spurs.

But under Mauricio Pochettino he started the opening three Premier League games before being sidelined with injury, he came back into the side on Sunday against a front four of Eto’o, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku, people, myself included, that Bentaleb would be overrun against that line-up. But he controlled the pace of the game partnered with Ryan Mason and the two combined very neatly, Bentaleb sat back and held the ball well, allowing Mason to trek further upfield to create chances.

Nabil won every tackle in the midfield and looked as if he’s been playing in the Premier League for 10 years, showing such great maturity for a 20 year old, bet if he was English the media wouldn’t stop raving about him! Anyways it’s great to see such a young player thriving at our club and I hope he continues to grow from strength to strength with us for many years to come.

What Tottenham Need To Do In Order To Get A Result At Stamford Bridge

On Wednesday, Mauricio Pochettino and his Tottenham side will make the trip over to Stamford Bridge to face an in-form unbeaten Chelsea side that look absolutely unstoppable at home at this moment in time. Although a win looks unlikely, there is a first time for everything. I will leave it at that! If we are going to get a point against Chelsea, this is the way I feel that we should go about the task in hand.

Why Appointing And Then Sacking Tim Sherwood Was A HUGE Mistake

Everybody says that you can never judge a player on his first season in the Premier League. However, is this true for the summer seven that made their way to White Hart Lane in the summer of 2013, bought with the money from player sales, predominantly the money made from the Gareth Bale sale.

Last season, these seven summer signings arrived with a total value of over £100m and had huge pressure on them to perform, as did manager Andre Villas-Boas. To put it lightly, things didn’t quite go to plan and AVB was sacked just before Christmas after a 0-5 loss at the hands of high flying Liverpool. Soon, Tim Sherwood was in the hotseat with an eighteen month contract along with assistant Les Ferdinand. Here is where I think it all went wrong for Spurs in the 2013/14 aside from the transfer dealings.

As time grew on, the eventual inevitability of Tim Sherwood’s contract being terminated at the end of the season became more and more obvious. However, the team were playing some nice football, albeit not always coming out with a positive result at the end if the ninety minutes. As the team found out that Sherwood would be heading out of the exit door at the end of the season, they became complacent and they were not playing to the best of their abilities, with a starting place as no incentive as they knew the current manager would be leaving.

This had a big affect on how the team performed with two mangers being sacked in one season, it made the bedding in process a lot more difficult than the players would have anticipated when they joined the football club.

This now leaves Daniel Levy with the task of building stability at the cub and this also leaves Mauricio Pochettino with the tough task of turning the morale of the team around. This hasn’t worked so far, but there is still hope. We all hope that the players will come back from the international break feeling ready to battle for their place at this club as the January transfer window draws ever closer.

Why Daniel Levy Needs To Give Pochettino Massive Backing

With Mauricio Pochettino taking fourteen points from eleven games, fans have been starting to question the appointment of the Argentine. This is the the thing that gets on my nerves the most about the Tottenham fans.

We as fans have to accept that this is a project at Spurs. What AVB had always wanted at the club, a project. When a new coach is appointed at a club, it will either click or it will not. However, the third manager in a year not clicking, you have to question what is actually going wrong. Well, we can certainly rule out the managers themselves. There could be many things wrong at the club, the backroom staff, director of football, scouts and all the other roles that are available at a club.

This could be something that Daniel Levy is starting in understand. Spurs are set to sign scout Paul Mitchell, who previously worked with Pochettino at Southampton, this indicates that Tottenham are ready to change.

Pochettino needs a lot of time, that is the bottom line, and the new scout signing that is set to go through could lead to the chairman giving the manager a lot more time than previous managers. It is all about creating an environment that both the manager and chairman are happy with, and a change upstairs is a good start. Pochettino has to have confidence in who is working at the club, and equally Daniel Levy. It is also all about backing the manager in what he does. This means giving him financial backing and backing the many decisions that he will make whilst managing Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

With the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust set to meet with the club on Thursday, we could find out some answers as to what exactly goes on behind the scenes and the question that everybody wants to know the answer to, when is our stadium being built, and where is we moving in the meantime?

Things are looking positive with the new scout set to come in, and positivity from the fans would be good as we return from the international break against Hull.


Why Spurs Need To Go Back To Basics

After reflecting back on what’s happened so far, with many suggestions being floated around about people being sacked and the club restructuring itself, but after a lot of thought, I believe the way we can get back on track is this, it’s time to back to our roots.

No more Director of Football having the final rule on transfer signings and let the manager buy the players that he wants to bring into the team. Daniel Levy has tried to adopt the DOF structure throughout his 13 years as Chairman, he first brought in Frank Arnesen who was a dismal failure and left to go to Chelsea, he tried Damien Comolli who in my view, despite finding some great talents, Bale/Modric/Berbatov, was not a great success and now Franco Baldini’s attempt has been nothing short of shambolic.

People say Directors of Football can work because they’ll discuss with managers who they want and what their options are. But with a strong and powerful manager there shouldn’t be any discussions, it should be a case of the manager makes the decisions and the manager demands and acts upon them because he is the one who lives and dies by it. It’s time to ditch the system and let it be.

In terms of back to basics on the pitch, no more inverted wingers. That is playing your left footed winger on the right and right footed on the left. Can it work? Yes. Does it work for Spurs? No. I am bored to death of seeing Andros Townsend cutting in all the time only to find his path blocked with a line of players getting back and forcing him to run across the length of the pitch and then playing a sideways pass. All right backs in the PL now know to block the outside and he will run into nowhere, you see either Lamela/Chadli/Eriksen having similar problems on the left. If they’re out on the wings trying to cut inside, it’s very easy for the opposition to mark them out of the game.

Also using inverted wingers has another side-effect, it negates the impact of our strikers and their goalscoring. So many times in the last 2 years we’ve seen our Centre-Forwards stride into the box but there be no ball there to receive them. Our strikers have been left isolated and when they do receive the ball they’re always too deep to do anything effective. This leads me to my final point, we need players willing to fight for the cause and offload the ones who don’t have the stomach for it.

Too many of our players are going through the motions and will simply turn up to a game believing they just have to do the bare minimum to win matches and it is repeatedly costing us dearly. Aside from Hugo Lloris, Ryan Mason, Harry Kane none of the current squad are willing to take any form of responsibility or leadership. Pochettino needs to clear out the mercenaries in out dressing room and bring in and bring through young hungry players who will fight for the cause.

Upstairs To Blame? Why Spurs Will Not Reach Champions League For Some Time

The Lilywhites finished in 6th place last season ten points outside of the top four. Over the several seasons they have flirted with a Champions League top four berth having succeeded in 2011/12 and previously in 2009/10. While success always seems within their grasp they just cannot seize and hold it. This is down to two major reasons, a dysfunctional transfer process and mixed priorities.

Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, does not have full control of the transfer window process. Chairman, Daniel Levy, and a small cadre of Board Members dubbed The Committee have considerable say and mostly likely final say over who comes and who goes. This explains why top players like Rafael Van Der Vaart, Luka Modric and more recently Gareth Bale are sold without suitable replacements being found. Top class players leave and solid, but not world-class, players replace them. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado are good but don’t bring the same level of firepower as Gareth Bale did. This can be a good way to make a profit on the transfer window but not a good strategy for achieving and maintaining a Champions League berth.

The players who’ve been leftover don’t seem up for a fight, they lack hunger in matches, believing they just have to turn up play and win without having to exert themselves in matches. This was most evident against both Newcastle and Stoke in Spurs last two home games, there was no spirit shown, if there was only Mason/Kane and maybe Rose could walk off with their heads held high but otherwise the players just lost the incentive to win and gave it away on both occasions to far weaker teams than ours.

Another fundamental issue is there are just too many average players. Have a look at our squad and divide them into three sections:

‘Definite Champions League Quality’ (DCLQ) players
‘Potential Champions League Quality’ players’ (PCLQ) players
‘Not Champions League Quality’ (NCLQ) players

Lloris, Lamela, Vertonghen, Eriksen, Walker

Vorm, Stambouli, Chadli, Soldado, Dier, Davies, Dembele, Townsend, Kane, Adebayor (I would include Mason and Kane but they both lack experience at that level)

Capoue, Kaboul, Lennon, Naughton, Rose, Paulinho, Chiriches

Secondly, as mentioned before, the squad is not being played/utilised to its best ability. And many of the players who have been with us for 2 or 3 seasons haven’t been played in their best position, in the best formation for the squad at hand at the time, for a LONG time.

This has meant that confidence is incredibly low for some key players – e.g.: Soldado, Lennon, Paulinho – and that players less experienced at dealing with being played out of position in a squad where the manager doesn’t know his best starting XI after eleven games (i.e.: they haven’t been at Spurs very long) don’t really know what their role is and aren’t playing to their best either.

I sound like a broken record but if Levy had done a better job in the transfer window following our pretty good Champions League season, not sacked our third best manager of all time and spent the Bale money more on proven players rather than the majority of players who he thought might make us some cash in the future, we might not be in this position of mid-table mediocrity.

Why We Love Spurs And Why We Need To Get Behind The Team Again!

There’s been plenty of talk about the atmosphere of Tottenham fans with many having a divided opinion, but I believe we’ve now reached a point where we have to get back to basics as fans of our club.

The declining atmosphere inside White Hart Lane has become a growing issue in the last 18 months. While we’ve endured some dire performances throughout this time, it is undeniable that there has been a drop in the decibel levels in N17. Too often we see Spurs go behind in games, followed by the inevitable image of fans leaving the ground, well, I say it’s time to stop.

While Spurs fans in every corner of the ground have their part to play on a matchday, we also need to change our outlook. Think why do we support Spurs? Because we win trophies, we play in big competitions, or spend incredulous sums of money to buy players?

The answer to all is no, we feel in love because we appreciate the value of great football, we always win with style and outplaying our opposition. We love the superstar characters who wowed us with their incredible skills, the cult heroes who would do everything to win a match for us even when it seemed most unlikely.

It’s time we stopped worrying about what direction the club is going and start remembering the reasons why we fell in love with Spurs. We fell in love with the great players on display, Hoddle, Gascoigne, Ginola, Klinsmann, even in losing we didn’t walk out on our side we sang our hearts out till the final whistle blew in every game, Home/Away, League/Cup.

I’m not saying we must blindly support the team regardless of what is currently happening but I’m saying when we’re down and things aren’t going well, instead of walking out on our players we stay and rally behind them to give them the extra push that I know we as fans can give to Spurs, we have a big responsibility to make White Hart Lane a fortress again and this is the time to do it.

Three Ways Pochettino Tactically Shot Himself In The Foot Against Villa

Tottenham snatched a late three points at Villa Park due to a very late Harry Kane free-kick that took a deflection on it’s way into the back of the net. Inn many ways we were lucky to claim the win and here are three tactical flaws that Mauricio Pochettino made that nearly lost him the game.

1) Not tackling the height and threat of Christian Benteke

Since his return, Benteke has been improving every game he has played, and Pochettino did nothing to tackle his threat. We often saw Benteke jumping higher than all of our defenders and winning most headers, and the obvious solution to this would be starting Federico Fazio. Standing at around six foot and five inches, Fazio would be the perfect match for the Belgian, and would have stopped the threat of Benteke in the air. As it stood, Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen were no match for the tall Villa striker. We were only given a lifeline when Benteke was sent off just after the hour mark.

2) Not starting Harry Kane

As every Spurs fan will know, Harry Kane has been in excellent form during all cup competitions, and has hardly been given an opportunity in the Premier League. Only making appearances from the bench, Kane hasn’t been given the entire ninety minutes of a match to make a difference. However, the young Englishman only needed little over thirty seconds to make an impact on the game, running down the right, injecting some pace into the game and winning us a corner. Pochettino simply must start Harry Kane on Sunday against Stoke.

3) Playing Christian Eriksen on the right wing

For me, Eriksen is most effective playing in the number ten role, and this showed when he was substituted at half-time for Erik Lamela after a poor first half performance. I am not suggesting that the Dane should have been deployed in the number ten role, as I think that this would be better for Soldado in the long run. Eriksen has previously showed that he can play on the left hand side and behind the striker, but not on the right wing. Maybe it would have been better for the team if Lamela if had started in the position of Eriksen, as he is more suited to the role. There is time for experimenting, but away to Villa when your team is in times of trouble in the Premier League is not the right time to experiment.

So, to avoid losses in the future, Mauricio Pochettino must avoid these tactical errors and set up the team taking into account the opposition’s strengths as well as our own.

Why The New System We Saw Against Villa Will Suit Roberto Soldado

Yesterday, we saw Tottenham pick up a late 2-1 win over Aston Villa. That game saw Mauricio Pochettino fielding two strikers for the entire duration of the match. These two strikers didn’t line-up how you think they would.

The new system saw Roberto Soldado play just behind the striker, Emmanuel Adebayor or Harry Kane. You may say that there is no change in system, but it saw Soldado play as a number ten, but also helped out Adebayor or Kane up top, so effectively, we saw a 4-2-3-1 formation, sometimes changing into a 4-4-2 when Soldado chose to join the lone striker up top.

Now, onto who this will suit, and as you can tell by the title, I feel that it will suit Roberto Soldado the most. As we saw last season, Soldado struggled up front by himself, and often had to wait for the support from the midfield to come up before playing the ball through as he didn’t have the confidence or sheer pace to take on a defender.

On many occasions, this season as much as last, the Spaniard has dropped deep and sometimes has left us with no target man up front, leaving the midfield  with the responsibility of making goal scoring opportunities for themselves. Playing as the lone striker, the onus was on the Spaniard to score goals, and that is something he couln’t do from forty yards out.

That is why I think Soldado is suited to the number ten position, he can also link-up play very well with other, and the onus is not on him to score all the goals. This will hopefully take him of the mounting pressure off his shoulders and he can play with a bit more freedom, allowing him to roam from his position.

We hope that Mauricio Poochettino will keep this system, so we can hopefully get the best out of Roberto Soldado.

Tottenham Team News And Predicted Line-Up To Face Brighton

Tottenham will be eager to get back to winning ways after a loss at home to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. As usual as we switch competitions, Maurcio Pochettino is expected to make wholesale changes to the side that started against Newcastle as we look to progress into the next phase of the Capital One Cup. We face Brighton, who are just two points above the Championship relegation spots. Here is the team news and predicted lineup.

Team News:

Our woes in the right-back position continue as Kyle Naughton is still out nursing an ankle injury, whilst Kyle Walker remains out after undergoing abdominal surgery last month. Nabil Bentaleb is also out on contention.

Predicted Lineup: (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm
Vorm hasn’t had too much game time thus far since joining Tottenham. He has been out of contention for a large chunk of this season whilst he completes a ‘fitness regime’. The former Swansea stopper has a good chance of starting now. He did feature in our last Capital One Cup match at home to Nottingham Forest.

Defence: Eric Dier, Younes Kaboul, Vlad Chiriches, Ben Davies
Eric Dier must start at right-back despite his costly errors at the weekend. Otherwise, you would have to start plunging players into a position that they have never played before and that would be too risky. After Kaboul hit out at players for being defeated, he needs to start and lead by example.

Midfield: (Holding) Benjamin Stambouli, Moussa Dembele
If he starts, Dembele will be key in the sense that he can drive and run at the Brighton defence from that holding role. Stambouli will be playing the Etienne Capoue role, holding back whilst other push higher up the pitch.

Midfield: (Attacking): Aaron Lennon, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela
I simply think that Erik Lamela needs confidence. That will then allow him to kick on in the Premier League, something that he hasn’t done yet. Harry Kane needs to start after he scored a hat-trick last week in the Europa League and is in a good run of form.

Forward: Roberto Soldado
Much like Lamela, Soldado is very short of confidence and needs a boost of confidence. If he starts, this is a fantastic opportunity for him to bag a couple of goals. As we saw on Sunday, he can link up with Kane very well, and if they both start, the two of them could be very hard to play against.