I’m currently in Chicago (more on that later) and waking up a little early due to the time difference, so I’ve put that extra time to good use and had a think about how our squad might start to shape-up this summer.
I am super, super excited about the appointment of Ange Postecoglou but my main (only?) worry is that our squad is not especially well set-up to implement his style. Alongside this, read my Twitter thread in which I explain why I think we need to off-load up to 18 players as soon as possible. The key reason being that we have a two-competition squad going into a one-competition season.
So, I’ve gone through the squad and made some judgements on where I think we are with each player. This is just my opinion and there are a lot of assumptions here but, if nothing else, it shows the scale of the work to do in re-shaping the squad. I think we need to consider the way players can fulfil roles rather than positions specifically but it’s so much easier to group traditionally by position, so I’ve gone with that here.
Here are my categories:
- SELL – just get rid
- ACCEPT GOOD OFFER – if we keep hold of them it’s not a problem, but a good offer would mean it’s sensible to sell
- ANGE POTENTIAL – a player I think could fit the system well
- SHRUG – just too many variables
- NO FURTHER DISCOURSE – you know why
- N/A – we don’t own Kulusevski or Lenglet
LLORIS – SELL
If all had been well at the club he’d have been sold two or three seasons ago. The decline we’ve seen since then has been steep and has not made for easy watching. We will be playing a style of football that requires him to play out a fair bit and he just can’t. Now that his elite shot-stopping has gone too, there is simply no point in keeping hold of him.
FORSTER – SHRUG
He’s done ~okay when called upon, he’s better with his feet than Lloris, but it’s a low bar and we should be looking to improve on him. But there’s just so much other business to do, and at least he’s homegrown. I’d be tempted to keep him for now and look to bring in a better, more suited back-up over the next two windows. I’m going to guess that’s what Postecoglou will do.
AUSTIN – SELL
Please, Brandon, for the good of your career: go play some actual football matches.
WHITEMAN – SELL
Please, Alfie, for the good of your career: go play some actual football matches. Unless we sell Forster and one of these two becomes the back-up, it makes no sense to keep either and certainly not both. These guys are 24 now.
PORRO – ANGE POTENTIAL
He’s a relentless final ball merchant so asking him to dial that back and play volume passes from an inverted position is going to require some serious coaching from Postecoglou and self-discipline from Pedro Porro. But once we have sustained possession, his crossing will come into its own. That’s if he even plays FB; there’s a strong possibility that he could play wide right and hold the shape and just shell crosses in. I think there’s a degree of versatility and also a base talent level that will really interest Ange. I like him lots and think he has a place in the squad.
EMERSON ROYAL – ACCEPT GOOD OFFER
His renaissance across the last season was a beautiful thing to see — he certainly never deserved the treatment he got. But he really offers little in the final third. He is pretty good at coming inside and his unambitious but safe passing could become a strength in build-up. My feeling is, though, that Ange will be wanting more and I don’t think he’s ultimately suited to a more fluid, possession-based style. He is a really good player in the right system (highly aggressive low block and counter without too much expectation of attacking) and will do well elsewhere, so I think if a good offer comes in (and it certainly could), we should sell.
SPENCE – ANGE POTENTIAL
Full disclosure, I love Djed Spence and have done for a long time. I view the way Antonio Conte used him (or didn’t) as one of his biggest crimes. I think there’s lots to work on for Ange — Spence’s driving runs, both inside and out — are a huge strength and his high pass completion will offer encouragement about what he could offer when moving into the middle of the pitch. Very excited about how this will play out.
DAVIES – SHRUG
Davies has essentially become a specialist left-sided centre-back in a back three. He looked really quite poor when asked to play a more traditional left-back role at the end of the season, though he did have a couple of good games as a left wing-back. However, the bar was low at that point after Ivan Perišić had had a string of dreadful matches. It’s highly unlikely but maybe Postecoglou starts with a back three (he did play this way with Australia for a while) simply because that’s the way our squad is set up for. If that’s the case, he may get a stay of execution. Or maybe he stays as a ‘defensive’ LB who can allow Pedro Porro or Djed Spence to play more ambitiously on the right. I just can’t call it with Davies. It’s hardly the biggest problem — he’s a great guy who is universally popular within the squad and who has been an adaptable squad player over many years, so I’m not going to pretend I have particularly strong feelings either way.
PERISIC – SELL
I can’t see any way he stays — some reasonable crossing, some good corners, but he is a shadow of what he was previously and particularly hopeless defensively. He needs to go and I think he will.
SESSEGNON – SHRUG
I’ve backed Sessegnon when others have given up on him because it’s clear to me that the talent is there. But he really struggles with keeping a positive mindset, and you can see the confidence drain out of him when he makes a mistake. Ability-wise, there’s plenty of Postecoglou potential, but I think it’s going to take a lot to build him up to here he was mentally, and I just worry that there’s too much other work to do. I’d be down for essentially kicking that can into the long grass and loaning him out to Luton for a season.
REGUILON – SELL
I don’t see this one working. He’s too frantic, too much in a hurry, and I don’t think he has the ability to step inside and become a midfielder. Not for me.
UDOGIE – ANGE POTENTIAL
I don’t want to spoil Nathan’s video so on this one I’ll stay relatively tight-lipped. Check out this tweet and, of course, the exceptional video.
DIER – SELL
I almost put ‘SHRUG’ for Dier, as I definitely think the last season of form in a poorly-performing team is not reflective of Eric Dier as a centre-back. But I also think that we have so many players to lose and that Dier should ideally be one of those. Postecoglou has made Carter-Vickers a mainstay of his defence, and maybe that scales up to Dier. But I frankly just think we can do so much better, and the idea of Dier/Romero in a back four is not something I’m comfortable with. In my view, the reports linking us with Harry Maguire don’t tally well with Eric Dier staying at Spurs.
ROMERO – ANGE POTENTIAL
Obviously. He’s extremely good. He urgently needs to play in a more stable defensive pairing, though.
SANCHEZ – SELL
Davinson Sánchez just doesn’t have the on-ball ability to thrive, in my opinion. He’s got a lot left to give in his career, but not at Spurs. He has been a good servant but it’s time to move on.
TANGANGA – SELL
Japhet Tanganga is in his mid-twenties now and he really needs to be going and playing games. I can’t see it happening at Spurs.
RODON – SHRUG
There’s just something about Rodon that makes me think… maybe? He’s pretty good (though not exceptional) on the ball and has pretty well-rounded defensive abilities. We’ll sign better centre-backs this summer which will no doubt push him down the pecking order, but I feel like he’s one that might make a bit of a comeback in pre-season and could put himself in contention.
LENGLET – N/A
I thought he was ‘okay’ overall last season in a defence that generally struggled. I wouldn’t sign him. We can do better.
HOJBJERG – SHRUG
I would strongly urge you to listen to this interview — I think that Hojbjerg’s emotional intelligence will chime with Potecoglou, and my natural inclination is that he’ll remain a part of the midfield for a season whilst we transition, and then perhaps we sell him in summer 2024. I know that will upset a lot of people, who think that Hojbjerg is terrible and the main problem in our team. But he’s not. He’s a competent, if unspectacular player, who can probably fulfil a couple of different midfield roles under Postecoglou and, therefore, might be quite useful for a bit. But man does he need to not play every week; he’s so much better when he gets proper rest.
BENTANCUR – ANGE POTENTIAL
So much depends on how he comes back from injury but, if he’s anything like the level he was at before he got hurt, he should be an important midfielder for Postecoglou. Our best presser.
SKIPP – ACCEPT GOOD OFFER
Postecoglou needs to find a playmaking number 6 and, whilst I think Skipp is better than he has shown for the first team to date, I don’t think his passing is adventurous or creative enough overall and, therefore, we should accept a good offer. If that doesn’t come, we could keep or loan him.
BISSOUMA – ANGE POTENTIAL
I thought his performances at the end of the season were seriously impressive. I can’t see him playing the play-making 6 role, but as an 8 he is ideal. A starter for me.
SARR – SHRUG
I’m intrigued to see what Postecoglou makes of Sarr — it’s difficult for us to make a clear judgement on him because we’ve seen so little. Pre-season will tell us more, but my instincts are that he’s quite similar to our other midfielders (albeit maybe more ambitious with his passing) and that we might loan him out and see how he develops. Hell, send him to Luton with Sessegnon.
WINKS – SELL
Winks profiles as the Postecoglou 6 but we should be able to do better so we should sell him.
NDOMBELE – NO FURTHER DISCOURSE
You already know what I think and it’s pointless going over it again. I don’t want that smoke.
LO CELSO – ACCEPT GOOD OFFER
In theory there’s a lovely mesh there between his 8/10-ishness and what Postecoglou wants from his 8s. But, also, we need to reduce numbers and he holds significant value whilst being wanted by Unai Emery at Aston Villa. If we get a good offer I think we should probably sell him (though I do rate him).
SON – SHRUG
I think so much of Son’s future rests on what happens with Harry Kane. If Kane leaves, then Son probably becomes our number 9. If Kane stays, perhaps Postecoglou starts him on the left. It’s not clear to me how well he fits into the system, but he’s such a brilliant player that I’d guess Postecoglou would want to work around him.
KULUSEVSKI – N/A
We should sign Kulusevski because he’s young, and excellent, and could play either as an 8 or wide on the right. Love him.
GIL – ANGE POTENTIAL
Like Kulusevski, I like Bryan Gil’s versatility in the system. He could probably play on either flank or as an 8. He’s also a fantastic presser. I definitely expect to see him involved a lot.
KANE – NO FURTHER DISCOURSE
Everything that could possibly be said on him as already been said many times over. Here’s where I am.
RICHARLISON – SHRUG
Again, so much depends on Kane. I’d like to think that at least he’ll get more game time across left-wing and number 9. He’s a good player, though, and I’m happy to have him.
We also have several youth players who are bubbling under the surface and could interest Postecoglou. Alfie Devine is the most obvious one, and we have returning loanees Harvey White, Troy Parrott and Dane Scarlett. There are also some more pretty promising prospects including Alfie Dorrington (CB), Rio Kyerematen (CM) and Tyrese Hall (AM). There will be something that Postecoglou does that nobody predicts — like, I dunno, Harvey White inverted LB or something. I’m buzzing.
So I’ve got:
- SELL – 9
- ACCEPT GOOD OFFER – 3
- ANGE POTENTIAL – 7
- SHRUG – 8
- NO FURTHER DISCOURSE – 2
- N/A – 2
Selling twelve would be a good start, but man that’s a hell of a busy summer.
Okay, so there’s where the Spurs stuff ends. If you’ve got no interest in my trip to Chicago, stop reading here!
I’ve been asked so much about what I’ve done and plan to do that I thought I’d give a quick round-up.
Saw: We landed late so didn’t have time to do much besides check in, grab some beers and eat.
Drank at: Revolution Brewing / Maplewood Brewery and Distillery
Ate at: Chef’s Special – Chinese recommended by the server at Maplewood. Incredible walnut shrimp.
Saw: Some of the key sky scrapers, Millennium Park and various other bits on a Greeter tour – highly recommended. Architectural boat tour. Outstanding!
Drank at: Billy Goat Tavern. I’d skip. Revolution Brewing (again). This place is so good.
Ate at: Breakfast at a small cafe in a fancy-ass building. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria for lunch – had to try the Chicago deep dish but it’s mid. Do it, but don’t expect much. Grabbed some light bites from Revolution Brewing in the evening — the wings are good.
Saw: a grand slam walk-off at the Guaranteed Rate Field! Insanely fortunate first experience at a baseball match watching the White Sox. Thanks so much to Adam for getting us access to the patio and some Sox merch.
Drank at: Marz Brewing (really fun place, great beer)
Ate at: Guaranteed Rate Field patio at lunchtime, followed by Green Street Smoked Meats in Fulton Market, which was incredible and highly recommended.
Saw: Shedd Aquarium, some of the Riverfront Trail.
Drank at: First Draft (sports bar with a fantastic beer menu) / The Old Plank.
Ate at: First Draft / The Old Plank (shrimp tacos whilst watching the Stanley Cup).
Do some shopping, hit some more breweries (some of Corridor Brewery & Provisions, Hop Butcher For The World, Begyle Brewing, Dovetail Brewery, Hopleaf, Alarmist Brewing & Taproom, Old Irving Brewing Co, Half Acre Beer Co), see some Chicago Spurs folk (Tuesday, 18:00, Corridor Brewery & Provisions), check out the Skydeck and maybe the 360, eat at Galit and Au Cheval. We’re packing a lot in.