From ‘that’ picture in an Arsenal shirt, to ‘one of our own’, Tottenham’s Harry Kane is really making a name for himself during his breakthrough season. With 22 goals to his name already this term, it is small wonder that Tottenham appear to be going places having replaced a misfiring Roberto Soldado and ever-unreliable Emmanuel Adebayor. Whilst the boy wonder has a huge role in Spurs’ season so far, many other factors have come together to push them back to where they want to be.
The season cycle usually makes grim reading for the white half of North London; sell your best player, reinvest the money in numerous disappointing replacements, sack the manager, finish just below Arsenal and repeat. The question is should this season be any different?
It certainly has the potential to be. For years Tottenham have been crying out to have a quieter transfer window. Not because the squad was complete, but because continuity might give some of their first team a chance to settle and produce some of their best football. While a summer window that saw five additions may not seem that quiet, the reality is that only two of those brought in were thought to be competing for first team places. While Spurs fans were undoubtedly hoping to see Ben Davies of Swansea and Europa League winning Fazio break into the side, more regular appearances have stacked up for young Eric Dier. The consistency of selection is really paying dividends as it has allowed the likes of Christian Eriksen to produce their best, without the added pressure of knowing they were only one bad game away from the subs bench.
It was continuity that gave Harry Kane his chance too. Seemingly a contradictory thing to say, the fact remains that the easiest way to solve a problem like Soldado would have been to throw untold millions at another striker. Manager Mauricio Pochettino deserves huge credit for realising this would only have caused further problems. Not only would it have upset Adebayor and Soldado, but it also would have marginalised Kane, a player without the pressure of any transfer fee and the passion of having developed through the ranks. This cannot be underestimated. Under previous regimes Tottenham have lacked these home-grown types, willing to really dig in and produce their best for the club when things get tough. A strong cohort of Danny Rose, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend and Kane gives Tottenham an identity which they have lacked for a while. These are Tottenham players who have become inextricably linked to the whites, not seen since the likes of Ledley King, Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone (of them only King was home-grown) helped Spurs on their way to a 2008 League Cup win. Whether or not they are as technically able as other players Tottenham have is up for debate, but their desire to win for their club is an important factor which the team has missed in recent seasons.
For making such decisions, Mauricio Pochettino is now a key figure. Well known as a hire-and-fire chairman, Daniel Levy must surely stick with the Argentine now to see results in the long run. Having impressed during his time at Southampton, Pochettino has managed to turn Tottenham into a club people fear again, without losing their easy on the eye style of play. The work ethic he has instilled in his players, enabling the Lilywhites to implement a high pressing game, has pushed Tottenham onto the next level and made sure they are the ones scoring late goals, rather than conceding them.
All of this remains immaterial unless Tottenham can retain their key players this summer. There will inevitably be interest in Harry Kane, as well as Christian Eriksen, who is having his finest season to date in a Tottenham shirt. As long as these key players stay at White Hart Lane, then Pochettino can be allowed to address his biggest problem.
Only Tottenham’s defence currently holds them back. Whilst their recent results include five 2-1 victories in their last ten league games, such tight margins won’t last with an unsettled back line. A constantly changing defence does not make for an effective one. By selling players who have not quite been at the required level for the top four, Pochettino can bring in quality replacements. Rumours are already circling around Younes Kaboul’s potential exit, while Dier, Fazio and Davies provide good rotation (and potentially first team) options for the future. By adding a top quality centre-back to partner Vertonghen, Tottenham can become a real force next season and genuinely challenge for the top four. A world class defender, incidentally, is the rarest thing in world football at the moment. That said, their manager has already proven himself adept at finding unknown talent whilst at Southampton, further strengthening the ideal that he is the perfect man to take Spurs to the higher reaches of the Premier League.
Things look brighter now for Tottenham than they have since they last reached the Champions League. Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and King might have gone, but the unpredictable form of Manchester United and Arsenal means that unless those sides strengthen considerably next season, Spurs may find themselves with a very real chance of a return to the promised land. With Pochettino at the helm, they have never had a better chance or a more level-headed manager to take them there. If the Argentine continues offloading the right players and focusing on quality additions, who knows just how far Tottenham could go?
Either way, next season’s top four is wide open before it’s even begun.
For more from Simon, visit www.thefansview0311.blogspot.co.uk/