From Champions League finalists to enduring a shabby record, things have started to look bleak at Tottenham.
Mauricio Pochettino is tangled in a tricky situation at Tottenham.
After stating how important it was for his players to move on from the 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Brighton not only made it harder for them to move on but rubbed salt on an already deep wound with a 3-0 drubbing in the Premier League. Tottenham have now lost 17 games in all competitions in 2019, which is most by any other top-flight side.
If you’re to expound a Mauricio Pochettino team, you’d underline a young, hungry and energetic squad capable of playing a high-line football. But the team that played against Brighton on Saturday seemed bereft of all these traits.
When Pochettino took over Tottenham, he developed the youngest starting XI in the Premier League; something which continued for two subsequent seasons. Fast forward to the present day though, and his team is now the fourth oldest in the league.
22 - Tottenham Hotspur have won just 22 points from their last 20 Premier League games; their lowest points tally over a 20-game spell in the competition since August 31st 2008 - January 18th 2009 (21 points). Gap. pic.twitter.com/dI3pEwHUE0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 7, 2019
The inconsistent patches Tottenham are enduring is something every club goes through, and remodeling the structure is something that makes teams tick. As we speak of remodeling, Tottenham have never been optimal at it. From not getting a single signing in 2018, to inducing a net spend of around £120m in 2019, the board actually forgot the flip side of the negotiation; something which should ideally be a two-way streak.
Now, the Argentine’s situation is complex. He is left with the players who desired to accept new challenges, but lack of interest meant there was nowhere to go. Christian Eriksen, for instance, attracted heavy interest from Real Madrid, but the record European champions decided to go against the move.
10 - Tottenham have conceded 10 goals in their last two games in all competitions; the first time they have done so across two matches since December 1997 (1-6 loss to Chelsea, 0-4 loss to Coventry). Leaky. pic.twitter.com/mIAiKUfHdp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 5, 2019
The likes of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose underwent a similar transition where the former’s move to Manchester United collapsed. Note that these are the same players who once made Tottenham one of the finest defensive units.
The center-back pairing of Alderweireld and Vertonghen, who are both out of contract next summer, was a true delight. Composed with the ball and equally ferocious while defending, the Belgians faced the challenges with ease. This year though, the two have been made look like a bunch of amateurs.
7 - Tottenham Hotspur are the first English side to concede seven goals in any European competition since Tottenham Hotspur themselves lost 0-8 to FC Koln in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in July 1995. Spursy. pic.twitter.com/2AK3SK62xp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 1, 2019
Some shrewd business in the summer did add numbers to the team, but in a way that made life horrible for Pochettino. Now packed with options, the manager is struggling to find the right balance in the midfield; an area which was supposed to be looked after by the likes of Lo Celso and Ndombele. Injuries to the former and an inconsistent patch for the latter means the team is back to squad one. As we speak of Eriksen, the Dane is far from being his usual best. He is, in fact, delivering fewer key passes per 90 minutes than he has in his entire Tottenham career.
5 - Tottenham’s 2-7 defeat to Bayern Munich was the biggest ever margin of defeat by an English team at home in any European competition. Crushing. pic.twitter.com/LnUf8PKaWO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 1, 2019
In that sense, the January transfer market will be extremely crucial. The board will have a clear air regarding Alderweireld and Vertonghen, and Pochettino will look to rectify the team accordingly.
The transition from being a mid-table club to a Champions League finalist under Pochettino is indeed remarkable, but the board needs to understand when to pull a plug. As things are, they are on the verge of losing their finest men, either on a free or on half a price they demanded in the past.
Overall, they will be the losers in the negotiations.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Glyn Kirk