Mauricio Pochettino will be glad for the weekend off and the chance to recharge batteries and refocus minds as Spurs seek to bounce back from their Anfield defeat with four crucial games to end February and begin March.
After the terrific performance in the 2-1 North London derby win over Arsenal, hopes of a top four place were climbing high but the late defeat, thanks to Mario Balotelli’s goal, to Liverpool meant those hopes took a blow.
However, with a Europa League last-32 tie against Fiorentina, another London derby tie at home to West Ham, and the Capital One Cup final against another London foe Chelsea on March 1, means Spurs need to get back to winning ways, and fast.
It is quite a contrast from the first few months of Pochettino’s reign, as poor performances at White Hart Lane and defeats to Newcastle and Stoke caused people to wonder if the Argentine was set to be another victim of the Daniel Levy axe.
Now the former Southampton and Espanyol boss could end the season as Tottenham’s best manager since Terry Venables, or even legendary managers Keith Burkinshaw and Bill Nicholson, by wining a cup (or two) and securing Champions League football for next season.
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How Pochettino approaches these four games in 11 days could be crucial. Harry Kane has proved to be a revelation this season but it will be tough on the young striker to play all four games, while backups Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor have seriously under performed when given their chances. The situation is replicated across the pitch.
While Tottenham’s first choice XI is strong and capable of beating anyone on their day, the likes of Paulinho, Benjamin Stambouli, Ben Davies, Michel Vorm and Vlad Chiriches have struggled to perform to an acceptable level, let alone the level of their peers.
The Lilywhites squad manages to be a confusing blend of bloated and shallow, with plenty of bodies but a lack of options in some positions. Wholesale changes early in the group stages of the Europa League disrupted the flow and cohesion of the side, and the quality of the opposition has certainly increased.
If Pochettino can make small, subtle adjustments to his side to keep the players fresh without affecting the style, tempo and ultimately effectiveness of the team then this season could end more successfully than most Spurs fans thought.
It will need some fringe players to step up, show a marked improvement in performance and push themselves to the fore, helping not only the team but also their chances of a long career at White Hart Lane. If they fail to deliver, there could be a lot of player exits before the summer even begins.
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