Can Tottenham Win Trophies Under Pochettino

Through the past years in white side of North London, football seemed to bend over backwards, season after season, they’ve struggled to solidify themselves as a top four football club in the EPL. Being over shadowed by the big clubs, Tottenham Hotspur couldn’t establish themselves as an elite club in England; finished fifth in 2012/2013, sixth in 2013/2014, and back to fifth in 2014/2015.

The club managed to finish top four last season, but that doesn’t articulate the full story. Tottenham were more than potential title holders. They were in a two-horse race against Leicester City for the title run.

With the exception of last season, Tottenham’s commonplace positions in the table were in the borderline of being a champions league and a premiership title contender. Tottenham had six managers in the past 12 years; they struggled to have stability in finding the “right” manager for the job and keeping top drawer footballers, as we witnessed Real Madrid throwing big money for Gareth Bale.

Throughout the decades, Spurs have developed good quality players through their academy, but once those school-yard boys break into the first team and put in a couple of good performances, giant clubs of Europe come barging in the door with their pockets full, having plentiful to meet the transfer fee and pull out the biggest check to convince the hometown golden boy that money and titles would entice the footballer to make the move.

However, developing players and profit-making business cycles has been diminished through a manager that believes his squad can compete with the larger clubs and neglects in selling his stars because he is convince that the players are buying into the system and want to be part of a club that can potentially win titles.

The Argentine manager, Mauricio Pochettino, has influenced a squad that is quite interconnected from the backline to the centre forward. The cohesion of the team reflects the likeness of a manager that demands a philosophy that interjects a high-pressing, attacking style, of football. "The most important thing is to be brave, to be protagonists with high intensity” stated Pochettino in a Sky Sport interview. He expects his players to show full effort, as they train vigorously to suit a style that demands fierce physicality.

Tottenham’s backbone of defence has been exceptional in terms of the least amount of goals conceded this season in the EPL (16 goals), the least amount goals in the premiership. The backline’s core consists of the two solid Belgian centre-halves, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Alderweireld has a great quality of strength when it comes to one on one duel against centre-forwards, he also has a good vertical jump when it comes to clearing aerial balls that are being crossed inside the box.

Alderweireld has a good understanding of having balance as defender, between aggression and making physical-clean tackles in dangerous defending positions. Far as anticipation, he’s second to done; Alderweireld is able to smell the dangers of attacking players, and dictates the line: when to hold a high defensive block or when to play a deeper line. Alongside of the centre-half partnership, Vertonghen gives a dimension of pace, especially when backtracking the opposition from a counterattack.

A well-positioned centre-half - it is rare to see him out of the defencive shape. Vertonghen marks well against forwards and he’s able to switch in an instance to prevent interplay by disrupting the passing lanes. Besides defending skill sets, the lefty defender has great striking abilities. He is great at heading in set pieces, with a torque of shot power and precision. From a technical aspect, he moves the ball exquisitely with unforeseeable ball control. In the wide areas, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker occupy the fullback positions.

Rose has a great acceleration moving up and down the flanks, solid defending by clearing crosses coming from the left side, and has the ability to make split second tackles – avoiding buildup around the vicinity off the wing. Pochettino made tactical changes in a couple of matches this season, playing with three defenders in the back. The formation pushes the fullbacks into a higher wingback position, which it enables Rose and Walker to pressure opposing wingers and counter them in wide areas. Walker is great in transition with his pace and accurate with crosses inside the box.

The deeper midfield in Mousa Dembélé and Victor Wanyama have been vital, in terms of plugging the holes within the middle of the park, and taking possession from the other side of the pitch; the holding role of Wanyama and the box-to-box play of Dembélé.

Wanyama caught the eyes of the scouts from the big clubs, as he performed at a high intensity for Southampton; especially when they thrashed Arsenal 4-0 on boxing day. He has the work rate as the like of Chelsea’s N'Golo Kanté, also the ability to start a counter with long-lofty passes; defensively, Wanyama is well-disciplined and aware of positioning himself where the defence needs him.

Dembélé contributes defending duties with Wanyama, but plays high-up the pitch when needed, he’s a great dribbler and holds the ball well, when looking to make passes through the final third.

Up front, Tottenham have great quality attacking players. The emergence of Harry Kane has been vital for this Tottenham squad the past few years. Kane might not be one of the quickest centre-forwards, but he has good power and precision behind his shots, and moves naturally as a forward with stature; holding the ball up and makes timing runs into the box.

England’s youngsters are surly showing their domestic clubs that there’s something special brewing in the academies, and frankly, Dele Alli is a testament of that. The 20-year-old midfielder is quite lengthy and crafty, as he has the ability to play in various positions in the midfield. Usually Alli plays in the number 10 role, although, he drifts off the wing, overlapping Christian Eriksen, or making runs in the middle as Kane holds up the ball.

Pochettino has managed this into a regular top four club, but they are not at the peak of their potential. England’s young footballers in this squad are showing their quality. Though, the question lies: can the young lads perform at a high level, week in, week out? Will the Argentine manager win trophies for this club, just how his compatriot Ardiles and Ricky Villa did?

About the Author Cristhian Plasencia

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