December 23, 2015

I love Pochettino’s Tottenham

I love Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham. I’m putting that out there, unapologetically.

I love his ‘straight down the line’ take with the media. No sound-bytes, no misleading quotes,  no digging out players. He’s honest, but he keeps his cards close to his chest. Politically switched on, but appearing straightforward. He toes the party line but comes across as a pleasant guy, who backs his players.

I love that he’s created a coherent unit. I can’t remember a Spurs team ever being so tactically ‘as one’ in my lifetime. We’ve had good teams through having great individuals. We’ve played some great football through those great individuals. But most of our players are – roughly – around the same level (with a couple of exceptions) but it is the team playing as a unit that is so, so vital. We are greater than the sum of our parts, and when else could we have said that in recent memory?

I love that he has improved individuals beyond recognition. Last season Danny Rose went from one of my least favourite Spurs players to one of my very favourites. I had previously always liked his attitude but did not think he had the ability or intelligence to be a regular; yet he was in our top three performers. In the summer I wanted Mousa Dembélé gone. Now, he’s utterly pivotal. He has clearly always had ability, so I won’t pretend that Pochettino has dramatically improved him technically. But he has identified his key weakness and made him a more complete player. And that weakness? A lack of aggression. There was never a cutting edge with Dembélé. Now, he’s bossing games, taking responsibility, and we miss him when he’s not there.

I love his judgement and the way he backs himself. Daniel Levy said of him: “He said to me [in the summer]: ‘I don’t want a defensive midfielder. I am very comfortable that I can make Eric Dier into a top defensive midfielder.’ “I think if we asked most people [before the season started], they would have said he was wrong. We have to give credit to Mauricio for his skill, and you have to trust his judgement.” (via the official site). That is remarkable. Dier is a talented boy – I think we all saw that last season. I actually predicted that he’d be an England player this season. But as a midfielder? Absolutely remarkable! I would never have thought that he would have the mobility (he’s quick, but he never seemed that nimble) or the speed of thought. Yet he has slotted in like an absolute natural.

I love his ‘management’. Andros Townsend messed up. He was silly, he made a mistake. Pochettino called him out on it:

“Discipline for me is very important. I can understand the player – we have a young squad and a player can make a mistake – but when you cross the limit it is important to stop that. As a manager I am very fair but the discipline is very important. The staff need to show respect to the player and the player needs to show respect to the staff.” (via The Guardian).

Now, Townsend’s volunteering to play Under-21 football to keep his fitness up, putting in a proper shift at that level, and becoming a role model for our young players. He will probably leave in January, but the handling of the whole event was perfect.

Last season was imperfect, and there were a few gentle concerns. But now it’s clear that it was about building foundations, planning for the future. Cutting loose the deadwood and building a team of like-minded players who will fight for the shirt and their leader.

I can’t wait for 2016’s Tottenham Hotspur. Happy New Year and COYS.

 

 

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  • Andreas says:

    This is SO spot on, Windy.

    Poch is doing things right, just bloody perfect.

    You could’ve mentioned our so many things; like our central midfield throughout most of last season too, especially Mason. Mason has even (although not a regular this season) added another level to his game in my opinion – as he seems to get into the box more often.

    You could’ve mentioned Poch’s ability to handle the dressing room. Kaboul, Adebayor (only on the pay roll cuz no one wants him), and that lot, he skipped those out. He quickly got rid of players that didn’t fit into his system – so not to pay ridiculous wages and also not ruin their careers.

    And it’s not like these guys didn’t get a chance. It seems everyone gets a chance. But Poch is honest like that – and as we saw with Kaboul he is not late to admit his own errors as when he changed the captaincy quite shortly into the 14/15 season.

    The honesty also shines through in his squad choice. Players often get a chance after one or two strong performances, as we saw recently with Carroll. This is so important, as it makes all squad members believe they CAN make it to the first team if they keep their heads down, focus in training and take their chance when it comes.

    Poch is everything that we’ve asked for all these years.

    Also, he himself is young and genuinely seems clever, so I’m my prediction is that he’ll adapt to new styles and tactical developments in the game – he himself will also continue to evolve as a manager, is what I’m trying to say.

    Merry x-mas and a big f***ing COYS!

    /Andreas @andreasloftager

  • Paul shelf says:

    Excellent current state of play summary

    May I also add the sublime skill of Toby, the magnificent Delle Ali, Lamela’s potential recognised and the brilliant Hugo also all enjoying Poch’s coaching skills and quality encouragement
    Merry Christmas,
    Paul Shelf

  • Keith says:

    Couldn’t agree more and couldn’t have put it better myself.
    The way Poch conducts himself is pure class in all departments and just what we as a club needed.
    Now we need to keep hold of him for the long term, to see us in to the new stadium with stability and optimism.
    I am just so disappointed that with the amount he has achieved in such a short time our ‘supposed’ great fan base has never really vocally supported him. The odd song not sung with gusto is a poor return for the value he has brought to our club.
    Big MJ was wholeheartedly supported and his songs gave an extra atmosphere to the ground.
    Sing for Poch, no one deserves our support more !
    COYS!!

    • JK says:

      Spot on; let’s work out how to sing his name and give him all the recognition that he truely deserves for getting us to the position we’re in and, hopefully, stay in or better! Merry Christmas, COYS

      • Gee says:

        Villa should have got 1-4 managers all English too. Harry redknapp/ Big sam/ pards/ pulis. This was before they went sunderland and palace. Neway my point is these men have proven season after season if u struggling down there and u give em a good lil time (not2months left of epl) they can dig u out and focus your squad on belief. Now not saying Rg wont suceed but has he ever managed in epl? And i dont know if a relegation scrap is want he would want as he grounding to epl, i mean he could get sacked or take them down (good on his cv eh). I believe managers like those are more suited to upper top ten of epl. So 1 of those 4 managers, get to12th 10th 8th 6th if u wana be a pardew, and when then cant get u any higher past a certain point, ala harry the 4th/5th, pulis12th/7th (etc) THEN you get a RG/ arsene/ pochettino/ klopp type manager. Villas scrap could really be destroying his managerial passona. Villa been sliding about roughly 5 seasons now and believe i could do a better job than ALL THEIR MANAGERS since Martin Oneill lol SERIOUSLY!!
        Now back to mighty spurs COYS,
        Pochettino got beat by tottenham TWICE 2-3 in the season we were in disarray with AVB/sherwood era. We have been finishing roughly 5th so often wether we deserved 4th or 6th which means we are pretty steadly a fifth placed team. Now we been there since HR days so we should be progress or declining. The fact we had three managers in a year (beating a juvaliant poch shamton twice along the way), disarray squad, still finished fifth, squandered over £100M and alot of other back ground politics. I would say that wasnt the worse transitional period we could have endured. Its just when GB went and we were spending like a guy fresh outta jail in a strip club, we thought and we were on the rise. Little did we realise we were going backwards until the 6-0mc, 0-5 liverpools 3-0 arsenals etcs.. So to still end up 5th and end up with a manager while we are steadily 5th, who CAN see the structure we need to kick on to steadily 4th or 3rd or 2nd etc so we can be there the next 5years, great! I thought van gaal with his expirence might have been prefered option (4me anyways shhh tho) but i didnt know at the time the BIG ideas DANIEL LEVY HAD FOR SPURS SO CREDIT TO HIM AND POCH AND THE SQUAD FOR MAKING IT WORK THIS TIME AROUND. Buzzing as a spurs fan of 30yrs first time in a long while! And 1more thing if we want 1st place, we need: 2 decent strikers ie berahino/batsyimichy or say whoever just TWO. They should be happy on bench because we will be going places and have sufficent cover for at least 2-3years while they proper gel, maybe A CB to cover fazios spot when he departs, and lastly maybe a sigardson/ bale type player to push eriksen and who can create/vision but maybe pritchard can do fill type.
        Thank you for reading, they Just my opinons and soooo sorry for the essay lol

    • Barry says:

      Mauricio’s blue & white army! Mauricio’s blue & white army!

      Not original by any stretch, but one that I’ve always loved.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      ‘Pochettino’s blue and white army’ gets sung occasionally but it’s a bit of a mouthful. I like what Southampton used to sing – to the Human League – Pochettino baby, Pochettino whoooa!

  • SpurredoninDublin says:

    Good article that sums up most of my thoughts on the current situation.

    If I can take issue with you on one point: Dier’s conversion. I was very disappointed for Dier when they bought both Wimmer and Toby in the summer as I have been a fan of him since he started with us. I figured he would be putting in for a transfer.

    Then I saw that MoPo was going to play him as a DM, and suddenly, I started to think that MoPo who has won nothing throughout his managerial career, might actually be the real deal. So contrary to what you wrote, I never had any doubts that Dier could do this job well.

    In all fairness though, some of my other predictions were slightly less accurate. These include that Rose would never make a full-back, and that a player making his debut for us in the EL, had probably played both his first and final first team game for us. In case you haven’t worked it out, the player was Harry Kane.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      I knew Dier could ‘do a job there’ – he’d played there for Sporting after all. But at this level? He’s been so consistent!

      • Anonymous says:

        I wasn’t aware that he had played DM at Sporting. My opinion was based on watching him play for us. He could tackle. He was tough, and most importantly, he was disciplined in the way he went about his job at FB/CB.

        I am having trouble picking my favourite player this year, as there are so many that catch the eye in a team that’s devoid of journeyman.But Dier is definitely a candidate.

      • WindyCOYS says:

        Totally, definitely a candidate, Kane is still my boy though 🙂 Toby is amazing too.

      • SpurredoninDublin says:

        Apologies for not signing my previous comment. I thought it was automatic.

        Regarding my POTY, as I said, Dier is a candidate, as is Toby. Then there is Alli, who looks like he will have a giant career. And let’s not forget Hugo, who in most of the past few games has not had a lot to do, but when called upon has worked his magic. And how can I talk about this without mentioning “our own” golden boy, the very able Kane. But my current front runner is Dembele, whose consitency this season has marked him out as undoubtedly, our most improved player.

        The real joy of watching Spurs this year has been that that there are so many shining stars to view. And don’t be surprised if Lamela and Walker make it to the long short-list.

  • Mark Bird says:

    Spot on Windy. A lot still to do but for the first time in a long time we have clear direction.

  • Dan says:

    Went to the Southampton game and was pleasantly surprised to see a Tottenham team beaten by Newcastle the previous week, soak up some pretty intense pressure, then figuratively smash Southampton to pieces in the last 60 mins. Being in the Southampton end right next to the yids made it a little difficult to celebrate at the time, but somehow holding in the pride until we got out the stadium made it feel even greater. Hopefully we can carry this on into the festive period and after that, anything can happen! COYS!!!

  • The Duke says:

    I agree with all the above. But let’s hope that Poch stays with us and doesn’t get ‘bought’ by one of the desperados (ie Chelsea or Man Utd or even Bayern or Real) next season. He’d be mad to go to these places because he’s perfect for us; and us for him. His best work is with young players coming up, not prima donnas.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      He hasn’t stuck around in previous jobs too long but this feels like such a great fit for him!

    • SpurredoninDublin says:

      I wouldn’t expect MoPo to be with us forever, but I think he’s ours until he starts winning things coinsistently.

      The teams you mention normally choose managers who are blinged up with trophies. Moyes was an exception in that he was a good friend of SAF.

      Bayern try to promote from within, which is what we should all be trying to do. Nowadays, once you sack a manager, you usually end up sacking the entourage that he brought with him, when the new manager brings his entourage.

      FWIW, I used to express serious doubts about MoPo, and like the teams you mentioned, Spurs usually went for “blinged up” CV’s. Based on that, I still don’t really know how he got the job, especially as Soto did better under Koeman, when MoPo left, but I am delighted that thetre are wiser heads then mine making these decisions.

  • Hilary Santa Maria says:

    Spurs are definitely playing much better this year. They are playing as a team. Hope that we get a striker soon to reduce the pressure on Kane to deliver in every game. Win the next three matches and European football beckons. COYS.

  • Threelagoon says:

    After decades of seeing Spurs limping along, all I wanted was the team to put up a good fight. Now we have that, and some.

    I actually do not think MoPo will be tempted to go anywhere else, even Real as this stage. He is smart. He knows we have real talent in the first XI and the youth pipeline, that young players respond better to his “philosophy” than big name players, and the potential of the new stadium. He can really build a fine reputation as a miracle worker with young players. At Real, tempting though it might be, he won’t last more than a season.

  • Threelagoon says:

    My concerns are: (i) whether we have the legs to pursue the high-tempo game all season; and (ii) some players may grow tired of running more than 10km every game as they grow in age and stature.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    I agree that Poch has built a team out of players playing as a team who cost is just a fraction of United or Chelsea.
    But Leic, C. Pal and Watford are doing better or just as well.
    The lost points in some of the draws, I would maintain, are related to putting players in positions that waste their talents.
    Lamela: Best on the left or centrally.(His hattrick vs Monaco is evidence.)
    Dembele: Best when employed as an AM on the left.
    Eriksen: Though he finds more space to maneuver on the flanks, he is best played centrally. He has to up his game to shake off close markers.
    Dier, Mason/Bentaleb(either one when fit) are the DM choices.
    Thus, in my opinion,
    Right AM: Son/Alli/Njie
    Central AM: Eriksen/Carroll/Lamela
    Left AM: Dembele/Lamela/Chadli/Son
    Striker: Kane(Son or Lamela when Kane really needs a rest)

    Merry Christmas

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Lamela and Dembele on the left? I don’t think we’ve seen either of them play well there. They are both good on the right or in the centre IMO.

      Merry Christmas!

      • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

        DEMBELE’S 2 GOALS THIS SEASON BOTH CAME WHEN HE PLAYED FORWARD ON THE LEFT.
        Lamela didn’t score yesterday but he contributed by being an effective personnel on the left.
        We need goals to win games and putting him in his best position no longer handicap ourselves like playing 10 vs 11.

      • WindyCOYS says:

        He was playing as a number 10 vs Bournemouth and Villa… strange you mentioned this though and then Lamela played more on the left than he has at almost any other time!

    • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

      Great to see Spurs finish the last 3 games of 2015 with wins, PLUS:
      1. Poch has a plan B(as shown yesterday)
      2. We are getting goals through more channels
      a. Walker, Davies and Trippier delivered assists with their crosses.
      b. Solo goals from Kane, Carroll and Lamela
      c. Goal instincts of Toby, Dier, Alli and Son guided them to the right place at the right time.

      I see no reason why we shan’t be firmly in the top 3 come mid-Feb if there are no FA Cup replays to tire the lads,

      COYS

  • PJ says:

    Everyone is playing for the shirt Windy and that has not happened for quite some time. Your right to be very optimistic about the future, its very infectious.

  • judas iscariot says:

    Nice write up Windy….think everyone understands what MoPo is trying to do.
    Last time we had a team of player’s as opposed to some gifted individuals was very terribles 90s team…Paul Stewart etc.
    So while you are spreading the love…..how about a word for Danny boy…..Dele Alli……Liverpool fan…….5m?….Oh to be a fly on the wall at the next mickey mouser “committee” meeting lmao.
    Happy Xmas one and all…..:-)

  • Towz says:

    Totally agree.
    Watching us without the ball is like watching Barcelona without the ball. Organised pressure. Not quite the same with the ball yet! I thought it was a huge miss not signing a defensive midfielder, I thought Dier was a desperate gamble not to spend any more money. Wow was I wrong, he’s had a fantastic season so far, especially at his age. Poch has got the best out of several players who were looking a bit lost, most are still improving which is a great sign. Still need another center forward though. Coys.

  • Harry Monk says:

    One thing I don’t understand is if Poch said don’t buy a defensive midfielder, why were we trying for Bender and Wanyama in late August?

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Were we definite? Was it a smokescreen? Was Dier seen as back-up at that point? I guess we’ll never know.

    • Threelagoon says:

      If I recall what Levy said correctly, they tried a coupke of targets. But e did not come off, MoPo said he would try Dier out. Very pragmatic, I thougt.

    • SpurredoninDublin says:

      Regarding Wanayama, I spoke to a Soton fan who told me that we had only a passing interest in Wanayama.

      If you recall, this was following the Stoke game where Toby made an error, and he explained it by saying that it would have never happened at Soton because Wanayama would have been there to protect him.

      My source tells me that following on from this, A Sky Sports journo who was a Spurs fan, “bigged up” the story that Sours were interested. They made an enquiry. Was told “no sale”, and left it at that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Seems strange that Wanyama would put in a transfer request based on just a passing interest.

      • SpurredoninDublin says:

        Maybe he thought that he could force a move and took the interest as being more than tentative. As you are probably aware, most players are guided by their agents who are on a percentage and it would not surprise me if he said something like “If you can force a move, I can double your money”.

        What I find particularly interesting about this story is that when Soton said he wasn’t for sale, we pulled out immediately. Looking at what happened with Berahino, Peace was far more ambivalent and was sending out messages that we were not offering enough. Not once did he ever say, as Soton were purported to have said, “He’s not for sale”.

        Make what you will of that, but I think this points to Peace “sexing up” what should have been a private negotiation for brownie points from his fans.

  • longtimespur says:

    Good read Windy, thanks and great feeling to be a Spurs fan nowadays. I am lucky enough to have seen the great team of the 60s so have seen a TEAM playing before. Like others I think we are desperate for Kane cover. More so with Clinton’s injury but I wonder what MP’s gifted touch will bring from what we have already.
    Merry Xmas to all and a very happy and exciting 2016.
    Happy Spurs fan

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Cheers! Clinton’s injury is a real pity – I like the cut of his jib vs Monaco, I feel quite sorry for him. But we can’t be sentimental and a striker would be useful. Merry Christmas!

  • Bendubz11 says:

    Spot on Windy, and I think that his brilliance is best shown by how what had previously looked a weak set up has been transformed into one that is both strong in defence and attack. Before Poch that 4-2-3-1 formation leaked like hell.
    Why? Because it was too structured. Pochettino has made it a fluid formation that works beautifully. When Rose and Walker go forward, Toby and Verts slot into their Belgian positions as makeshift LB/RB. And that’s fine because Dier just drops back into the gap.
    In midfield, Dier is again important, forming a central triangle, usually with Alli and Dembele. The advantage of having Dembele in the centre not Eriksen is that he can drop back if needed, which also allows Alli to get forward more because he knows the other two will have him covered.
    Then in attacking midfield, it isn’t as LM/CAM/RM. It’s as LAM/CAM/RAM. The full backs provide the width most of the time, meaning the attacking player can overload the centre, and once again interchange position throughout the match. It’s why Eriksen is comfortable playing on the left, already with more assists than he got close to last season. Lamela is like a new signing, encouraged to try the technical stuff without fear of it coming back to haunt him, because he’ll get multiple chance every match, which coupled with both his high work rate and his improvement anyway has dramatically improved his success rate. Son and Njie were both bought because they can play anywhere in the attacking 3rd, providing yet more fluidity.
    I may be frowned upon for saying this, but I feel like if we give just a few more months, we could see something really special, almost Barcelona like.

  • flyblown says:

    First time since HR days where I feel that there is a manager and a squad I identify with. Post Harry was so depressing and post Bale was absolutely awful really, despite where we were finishing. Didn’t recognize the players, didn’t feel any affinity with the team. In 1 1/2 years, Poch has completely turned that around. It’s quite an amazing accomplishment, to be honest. Now, if we could just finish teams off when we’re dominating them, we’ll be real contentders.

  • Dhruv Chadha says:

    What impresses me most is he can get the best out of players. Look at Lamela, Dembele and Dier. Where were they 2 seasons ago? Probably being criticized left and right. He’s turned them around.

    Now look at other coaches. Or other teams like Man United. Everyone talks about clearing out a squad and buying new players, big names etc.

    Our very own Poch knows how to get the best out of existing players. Of course, there have been some new signings to replace those who didn’t perform or didn’t fit the system. But we have a lot of revived talent. Probably no other team can boast of that.

    Cheers!

    • SpurredoninDublin says:

      Dier only joined us last season. Before that, he was getting good reviews in Portugal, including being described as “The new John Terry”, (for all the right reasons of course). Personally, I think he will also captain England one day.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    Well done. 3-0
    Keep scoring in our next 2 away games and we will be really having a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  • Sweetsman says:

    Agree with your post, but have to say that it has been disappointing that you haven’t written more for some time.
    We stand close to the summit of something very special, as has been noted above. It has been said that we need to get another one or two strikers, possibly a defensive midfielder. I am not sure that we do need the midfielder, but probably we do need back-up for Kane. The problem is who? I am not convinced that Berahino is worth the asking price, nor whether he is clinical enough; he has also spent a long time on the bench, so his match fitness in a Tottenham side has to be questioned.

    • SpurredoninDublin says:

      I find myself in absolute agreement with everything you say.

      In terms of posts, I am a far from prolific contributor to this site myself, but what I enjoy so much about Windy’s blogs, is thebniche that he fills, especially regarding “Work in Progress” (that’s “the kids” in case you haven’t guessed).

      Regarding Berahino, apart from the reasons you give, I can’t see how this deal can take place. Even when he was on form, we were the only team that expressed any serious interest, and even then, I thought that when compared to his contemporaries, Ings, Austin and Kane, he was well overpriced.

      But add to that. Macho Man Peace has made a rod for his own back, regarding accepting anything less than £25 mill, especially from Levy.

      I probably shouldn’t say this, especially on a site where the team are regarded as football purists, but I am closet admirer of Pullis.What I like about him , is hos ability to do the best with what he has available to him, and he rarely has that much to begin with. I often wonder how he might do with a team that had “potential”. Unlike his chairman, I don’t believe him to be a fool. So when he said a couple of months back that he didn’t think that we would be back in for him, I think this was code for, “Now that I know what he’s like, I wouldn’t want him if I was Spurs”.

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