After a strong title challenge last season, only to be denied by the most unlikely winners in Premier League history, Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side look to be in amongst it again this campaign. The Soccer Sofa looks into why the Tottenham manager is currently the best in the Premier League.
Pochettino’s savvy use of the transfer market is what makes his teams so successful. No one with a football brain would say Spurs have a better squad than Arsenal, Man Utd or Man city, yet they currently sit at least two places higher than all of them. Out of the top 6 Spurs spent the 2nd least amount of money in the most recent Summer transfer window; only Liverpool spent less.
What is truly outstanding is Pochettino’s ability to develop sincerely average players and move them on for much more than they are worth. Tom Carroll joined Swansea on Tuesday for £4.5m and Alex Pritchard was signed for £8m by Norwich in the summer. Most impressively, Spurs sold Ryan Mason to Hull for £13m, whilst signing Victor Wanyama for just £12.2m. 21 games into the 16/17 season, Wanyama has to be one of the early contenders for the signing of the season. He has stabilised the midfield along with his explosive partner Mousa Dembele, making Spurs incredibly difficult to beat.
Style of Play
At the beginning of the season, Spurs struggled to find their feet, with key players such as Harry Kane and Dele Alli suffering from a Euro hangover. They were, however, the longest team unbeaten, only losing away from home to Chelsea and Man Utd. Since slipping down to 6th, Pochettino has tinkered with 3 at the back, observing a system that has worked so well for Chelsea this season. Tottenham’s record stands as follows:
3 at the back 4-1-0
4 at the back 9-5-2
Although it was initially Antonio Conte who bought the system to the Premier League and implemented it successfully, Pochettino, along with Ronald Koeman, was the first to recognise its potential, and switch systems. The 3-5-2 formation frees up the full-backs to get forward, which Danny Rose and Kyle walker excel at. Pochettino has developed those two players, who have arguably become the most effective full-backs in the league. It leaves Spurs’second in the table with two styles to choose from each game, Pochettino knowing full well that his players can perform however he chooses to set up.
Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld. The combined price of all these players was £57m when signed, imagine what their value is now. Some players arrived before Pochettino of course but his belief in young players is surely what is helping them repeatedly blossom into outstanding Premier League footballers.
Perhaps only Jurgen Klopp can rival Pochettino in this respect, bringing Origi, Lallana and Henderson on leaps and bounds this season, to name just a few. Alli and Kane are the England’s most promising two youngsters at the moment, thanks to their club boss, who has kept faith with them even when their form has dipped slightly.
Pochettino’s nurturing of young players is no doubt down to his man management skills, and ability to spot potential extremely early in a player’s career. Top managers such as Mourinho, Guardiola and Conte spent bucket loads in the summer on already proven players, whereas Pochettino goes for the cost effective approach of backing players to prove themselves whilst at Spurs. He is reaping the rewards now, however, as in this week’s CIES Football Observatory’s Updated Transfer Values, Harry Kane slots in at no.6 between Suarez and Ronaldo, and Dele Alli is in 9th, valued at £110m. Eriksen, Dier, Son and Alderweireld also make the list of top 100 most valuable players in the world.
Pochettino will no doubt want to finish what he’s started at Spurs, which would be to see them crowned Premier League champions. He will have Champions League aspirations also, this season’s campaign being a poor one from an inexperienced European side.
Spurs fans will find it tough to hear but Poch is destined for great things and wouldn’t look out of place on the touchline at the Camp Nou or Old Trafford. The Argentine is currently 6/1 to be the next Barcelona manager, which The Soccer Sofa thinks, could be a smart bet.