Football

Revolution or evolution for Pochettino at Tottenham?

Ex-Southampton manager knows Tottenham need change (©GettyImages)
Ex-Southampton manager knows Tottenham need change (©GettyImages).

Mauricio Pochettino has a very difficult choice to make. Does he seek gradual change, moulding the team slowly into his preferred style and formation, or does he act ruthlessly and quickly to get his side into shape, regardless of whose noses he puts out of place?

The current Tottenham Hotspur side is both bloated and lop-sided. Too many central midfielders, not enough full backs, plenty of physical players and not enough technicians, Pochettino will have plenty of resources at his disposal but will find too many players not quite at the required level.

Pros and cons

The Argentinian appears to know the strengths and weaknesses of his side already, with a new left back a priority. Ben Davies, from Swansea, is his prime target to replace the disappointing Danny Rose, while Jake Livermore has already been offloaded to Hull City, and Michael Dawson looks set to follow him. While Dawson is a fans' favourite, his lack of pace and cumbersome feet stop him from becoming a top class centre back. Livermore also showed plenty endeavour but lacked the finesse required. Premiership quality? Yes. Champions League? Not so much.

Davies' arrival will allow Jan Vertonghen to move back into a central position. The big Belgium international clearly did not enjoy playing at full back, and his slip for Chelsea's first goal in the 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge epitomised his time away from his preferred position.

Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches could be joined one or possible two new centre back rivals, with ex-Pochettino players Dejan Lovren and Hector Moreno, along with England U-20 International Jamaal Lascelles linked with a move to the Lane. With Younes Kaboul still not back to his best form and fitness following a long-standing knee injury, the defence will look quite different in the new season.

Midfield problems

Further up the pitch, midfield sees plenty of players who on their day, in the right system, could prosper, but under both Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood they flattered to deceive. Only Christian Eriksen made a real impression, while Sandro, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby, Nacer Chadli and Aaron Lennon all showed far too brief flashes, and with Nabil Bentaleb, Milos Veljkovic and the returning Tom Carroll adding to the competition, it is clear some clearing out is needed. That's without mentioning forgotten ex-Roma winger Erik Lamela.

Creating a real hierarchy will help the players focus on their task in hand. At times last season players appeared to be dropped almost on a whim, as first Villas-Boas struggled for fluidity, and then Sherwood battled with the short term nature of his appointment. There is a much of a muchness about several of those players, too good to sit on the bench, not good enough to command first choice selection. There is also a lack of creativity, especially from a deeper position.

Where will the goals come from?

Upfront, Emmanuel Adebayor repaid Sherwood's faith in him with 11 goals in 21 Premier League games, however the Togonlese remains an enigma capable of winning a game or going AWOL. Roberto Soldado failed massively, surprisingly showing plenty of class outside the box but a lack of a scoring touch within it. Pochettino may want rid of both players but potential suitors are few and far between, with both players' wages proving prohibitive.

Youngster Harry Kane showed plenty of promise and Spurs fans will hope Pochettino will continue the Chingford-born forward's development. However, the addition of another top class striker would not go amiss.

Every Spurs fan was disappointed that Gareth Bale's world record transfer fee was not reinvested better. After starting the season with such optimism, things quickly went sour. The much lauded summer transfer activity turned out to be rotten, with gaping holes still left in the side. Things could have been worse if Hugo Lloris and Eriksen had agitated for a move but fortunately Tottenham look to have avoided a big name departure for the first time in many a year.

If Pochettino can effect the necessary changes then the coming season may turn hope into reality, but the way the new manager goes about the change will be just as important as what the actual change is.

Topics:
Emmanuel Adebayor
Jan Vertonghen
Tottenham Hotspur
Football

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