April 6, 2016
I wanted you gone; gone to the highest bidder, probably Sunderland.
I called you a 5-a-side player.
I said that you were too niche to ever be a success at Spurs
How wrong I was. I’m sorry for doubting you.
This season, you have become a lynchpin. When you’re not in our team, I worry. I worry because you are so much better than all of our other players at protecting the ball when under pressure from opponents. You resist the press better than anyone else we can field. You complete more passes than anyone else in the squad. 90.2% if you ask; the third best figure in the league (after Ki Sung-yeung and Ibrahim Afellay).
Is it a coincidence that you missed two of our four defeats through injury? Is it a coincidence that you played just 19 minutes of one of the others? Is it a coincidence that you were playing on the right in the opening day defeat at Old Trafford?
When you dribbled with the ball in the past, it would end with a backward pass that didn’t advance us. Now you dribble with purpose. You dribble to create space for others — to suck players towards you. And they do move towards you — in numbers — because they can’t get the ball off you without two or three of them kicking at your heels, getting up your pipes. And that creates space for others, which you now know how to exploit.
You’ve got direction. You’ve got purpose. You’ve got Eric Dier alongside you. You have back-up, you have protection, you have freedom. All of these things have changed you, they’ve made you the great player that I never thought you had it in you to become.
You’ve got a working hip. And that makes a difference too, because you can trust your body now. You know that you can bounce players off and not worry about the repercussions. You’ve put a run of games together — you’ve had rhythm.
You know your place. You’re not expected to be threading through-balls, or running onto them for that matter. You’re in the middle, receiving the ball, getting it forward efficiently, and winning it back when it’s lost. You press. You press so well. You know the triggers, you know your role in the press, you know how to exploit it when you do win the ball.
And you’ve got a coach who can offer you advice and mould your game for the better. He has taken you from a decent player, to one of the best midfielders in the league.
I’m sorry for doubting you, Mousa. Will you forgive me?