Nik Argiropoulos

Summer Priorities

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Tottenham Season Review

Friday, May 30, 2014


Pre-Season Prediction: As has been the standard for the past few seasons, Tottenham were expected to be in a battle with Arsenal for the fourth Champions League spot.


Finishing Position: 6th. Manchester United's faltering season under David Moyes opened the door, but the resurgence of Liverpool and Everton left Spurs facing another campaign in the Europa League.

 

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2013-2014 Review
Despite the sale of Gareth Bale in August, spirits were high after the club invested the entire transfer fee (and more) on seven exciting new signings. The arrivals of record purchase Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli led many fans and pundits to tip Spurs to crack the top four, with Andre Villas-Boas looking to build on the record Premier League points haul achieved in his first season in charge.

 

Tottenham actually made a decent start to the season in terms of points gained, with the defence and goalkeeper particularly impressive, but the majority of victories were narrow. Attacking fluency was lacking and goals were sparse with Soldado struggling, Lamela struggling / injured and Emmanuel Adebayor banished to the reserves after a falling out with the manager. The problem of integrating seven new players of seven different nationalities, none of whom had played in the Premier League before, was taking its toll on Villas-Boas, the media got on his back and so did the fans after he criticised them for a lack of support at White Hart Lane. A woeful 3-0 home defeat to local rivals West Ham did further damage, and then came the two results within the space of three weeks that would seal the manager's fate - a 6-0 hammering at Manchester City followed by a 5-1 home defeat to Liverpool. The players looked lost, the fans were furious, the media had a field day, Daniel Levy pulled the trigger, Villas-Boas was sacked and Technical Director Tim Sherwood was appointed as his replacement on an 18-month deal, after a brief spell as caretaker.

 

What followed was a decent run of results and an improvement in terms of attacking and goal-scoring, as Adebayor returned to the fold, Eriksen flourished and Sherwood did well to introduce Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane in to the first team squad. However, there was a lack of any clear tactical plan or strategy against the league's stronger sides, and the heavy defeats continued at home to Manchester City, away at Chelsea and Liverpool, ending any slim hopes of a top four finish. Spurs were also knocked out of both domestic cups and the Europa League with little more than a whimper, and there were rumours of player unrest under Sherwood's leadership, which included some bizarre displays in front of the media. 6th place and Europa League fooball was secured once again, but Sherwood was relieved of his duties after the final league game, the second Tottenham manager to be sacked in the space of six months. AVB and Sherwood carried the can for the failure to achieve the primary goal of Champions League football, but many of the players should be taking a long hard look at themselves over the summer after numerous poor displays throughout the season.

 

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Likely Departures: Heurelho Gomes (free), Roberto Soldado (Atletico Madrid), Michael Dawson and / or Younes Kaboul (TBC)


Needs: Center back, left-back, striker, leader

 

Summer Preview
Mauricio Pochettino was appointed as the new Tottenham manager earlier this week, leaving his post at Southampton to sign a five-year deal at White Hart Lane and bringing the majority of his coaching staff with him. Daniel Levy and the club hierarchy will be hoping the 42-year-old Argentinian will be able stamp his hard pressing, expansive attacking style on the current Spurs squad, and moved quickly so the new man has the whole summer to scope transfer targets before a full pre-season with his new team.

 

Despite all the troubles last season, Pochettino is taking over a strong group of quality international players, and the signings from last summer will be expected to perform at a higher level now they have acclimatised to England and the Premier League. Firstly, the manager must attempt to persuade Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen to stay for next season, with both men rumoured to want moves to Champions League clubs, and he will be looking to help fellow Argentinian Erik Lamela finally settle, in the hope that the young man can rediscover the form that led to that record £30million transfer last August.

 

In terms of new arrivals, the priorities must include a left-back, with Danny Rose doing a reasonable job, but not at the required quality for a club with top four aspirations. There are reports that Roberto Soldado wants a move back to Spain, which would mean at least one striker would need to arrive to complement Emmanuel Adebayor and young Harry Kane, and another central defender is required with either Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson expected to leave. The re-signing of relegated Cardiff's Steven Caulker has been suggested, while Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez are all being tipped to follow Pochettino by the press, but whether any of these moves materialise remains to be seen. Another key area to address is the lack of a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room, who can pull things together when the going gets tough. The lack of this character was repeatedly evident last season, when the heads of the players dropped after conceding a couple of goals, leading to multiple morale-denting thrashings. A Vincent Kompany, Steven Gerrard or John Terry figure would never allow that happen, but those players are a rare breed.

 

A change to the pre-season training regime will be required to improve the fitness of the squad, which in turn would allow the manager to implement his favoured pressing game on opposing teams when the 2014/15 campaign kicks-off. There must also be a review of the club's general training and medical practices, with Tottenham topping Physioroom's Premier League injury charts for most individual injuries (45), and suffering the second highest total days lost to injury (1,441) last season.



Nik Argiropoulos is a London-based soccer writer for Rotoworld and co-founder of Never Manage Alone. You can find him on Twitter @nikarg.
Email :Nik Argiropoulos



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