Same Team, New Problems What’s Going on at Tottenham Hotspur?
Since the start of the new Premier League campaign, one team has appeared to be struggling significantly more than its counterparts; Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs entered the new season coming off a Champions League final, and a summer transfer window that saw them spend for the first time after a 2-window drought, breaking their transfer record twice in the process.
With the signings of younger prospects Ryan Sessegnon and Jack Clarke, coupled with the addition of more established players in Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, all eyes were on Spurs to break away from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, and cement themselves as a member of what was expected to become a new Top 3. So why, after 8 match-weeks, do we find Spurs in 9th place, already 13 points off the top of the table, and in a supposed ‘crisis’ as dubbed by Tottenham’s own Eric Dier?
One major factor that seems to be contributing to this is burnout and an unwillingness to refresh the squad. The likes of Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris are all in their 30s, and have been playing for Pochettino’s side for at least 4 years at the time of writing. Furthermore, the likes of Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen have been at the club since before Pochettino, having signed after Gareth Bale’s record-breaking move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013.
Reports suggest that the more senior members of Pochettino’s side believe they have nothing left to offer the manager, or the club for that matter. This does in fact make sense, as Mauricio Pochettino’s philosophy has been widely regarded for its emphasis on a player’s ability to keep an incredibly high tempo for a full 90 minutes, a task that the likes of Rose, Vertonghen and Alderweireld are becoming increasingly less capable of carrying out.
Despite signing four players over the summer, Spurs remain largely the same team they were in 2016, having neglected the need to sell. Thus, the squad has become increasingly stale, and the need for an exodus has become more apparent than ever. Sources close to the club report that Pochettino and Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy have begun exploring the possibility of massively refreshing the squad in the January transfer window, breathing new life into transfer rumours concerning Nice’s Youcef Atal and Juventus’ Paulo Dybala.
Nicolas Murphy – Sport Writer