Had Eric Lamela not fluffed his lines in the dying moments of the game against Man City on Monday night, Spurs would have salvaged a point and been looking at the positives. As it was, they left a chopped up Wembley pitch with another defeat to a rival and more questions than answers.
On paper, twenty-one points from their opening ten games isn’t bad at all. However, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that is causing some concern in North London.
Their manager is beginning to look browbeaten and results have, so far, been rather hit and miss. The new stadium has clearly swallowed much of Tottenham’s resources, and they now appear to be in serious need of investment during the next transfer window. Investment that may come at the expense of some of their key players that is.
On the ropes
They are on the brink of a second group stage exit from the Champions League in three seasons, and currently sit outside the Premier League top four.
For a club with such big ambitions, this is far from ideal to say the least. A Champions League exit may also be a double edged sword, as they risk falling in to the Europa League and facing a dire fixture pile up, with only a thin squad to see them through.
Pochettino fanning the flames
“My feeling is the worst feeling I have had in my five years I have been here.”
The Argentine’s words to the associated press on Monday before the game, are hardly inspiring for Spurs fans.
Pochettino has been the club’s best Premier League manager, and Levy will be keen to keep hold of him. His frustration though is obvious and appears to be growing by the day.
A total summer spend of precisely zero, on new players, has left his squad badly stretched and falling behind. That he has managed seven wins from ten games in the league, is a testament to his ability as a manager.
However, the Real Madrid rumours are bound to intensify over the coming weeks. Pochettino will be all too aware of them, given their well documented approach for him in the summer.
Other top clubs in Europe may well be monitoring the situation as well, and it will be very interesting to see how loyal the Argentine is to the project at Spurs. Those terrible feelings of his could well be a warning of things to come.
Back on track
Despite home defeats to Liverpool and City, all is not lost for Pochettino and Spurs. They are unlikely to challenge for the top spot given the obvious deficiencies in their ranks, but they must look to fight tooth and nail for Champions League qualification.
They can take a lesson from their bitter North London rivals in this endeavor.
Successive Champions League qualification helped keep Arsenal ticking over as they paid off their shiny new stadium. Spurs must look to emulate this and remain in Europe’s elite competition as a top priority. The tournament has a way of glossing over the ills of a club, and while it may not solve all of their problems, it will help to keep them on the radar of certain players in the future transfer windows.
If they are to stay on course for a top four finish, then they must move on quickly from their their defeat to City. Their recovery after the Liverpool defeat was good, winning their next four league games to keep pace with the top three. They must repeat this and look to nullify some of the negativity that has been eating away at the club.
There’s nothing like a new recruit or two, to rekindle some optimism. January is only a few weeks off, so Poch will be hopeful he can keep his team on track until then. He will need some new faces though, regardless of the rather large black hole in the books.
Their core group of players went deep into the World Cup and have all played a lot of games. Even Son has been away from his best form, owing largely to his participation in the Asian Games.
They’ve assembled an excellent side under Pochettino, their best in decades. It’s now down to Levy to step in and do his part to keep the Poch project alive, before his and some of the player’s heads are well and truly turned to pastures new.