The Story So Far

To be fair there is not much of a story so far. Since Mauriccio Pochettino has arrived at White Hart Lane we have seen five pre-season games, 4 signings and the usual ITK and rumour (Some of which seems more likely than most).

In those five games a number of players that we probably won’t see a lot of have had some time on the pitch (indeed Falque has departed for Genoa for example) and some of our bigger names haven’t featured at all. We’ve seen the same old defensive slip ups at times, the same glaring sitters missed, 16 goals scored by 9 different players and seven goals conceded.

So what have we learned from this? On the surface it would seem ‘not a lot’ but look a bit deeper and there are signs of what is to come under the new mans reign. A style of play is starting to emerge which is similar in many respects to the way Southampton operated with Poch at the helm. Press high, win the ball back quickly, get it forward at speed and find yourself outnumbering the opponents’ defences. This is a style that served Southampton well, especially against the top teams that we were incapable of playing against. The question is, do we have the players to play this style?

If you look at our signings (and the rumoured signings) you get the impression that our new manager didn’t think so. Ben Davies from Swansea is there to give Danny Rose some real competition for the left back slot and Eric Dier offers a Centre back alternative. We are linked with Musacchio and Yedlin who would both step into the Centre back roles at some point in the season (Yedlin, if we sign him liable to stay in the States until January) so it is clear that Pochettino (rightly in my opinion) saw the defence as an area that needed sorting out. Add to that the link to Schneiderlin and you see that we are looking to get someone to guard the back four and get the ball moving quickly. It was noticeable that Capoue and Mason got a lot of game time as a pairing in the States in that area of the pitch to some decent effect.

Yet apart from Jay Rodrigez there has been very little mention of attacking players so is Pochettino working on getting the defence sorted out and then seeing what he can do with the players we have. Lamela has put in some decent performances in these five games along with Eriksen, Holtby and Lennon. Adebayor has overcome his Malaria to look interested enough to be given a chance and Soldado is hoping for a better year. Harry Kane looks as though he will get plenty of match time and Townsend looks as though he wants to prove something. Lennon has also put in some good performances and if he is to stay need to be doing that regularly this season – youth is no excuse for him anymore.

Various other players have had minutes on the pitch (Sandro, Mason, Ceballos, Carroll, Kaboul, Dawson, Naughton and Bentaleb for example) but our other returning World cup players have not as yet featured at all. Vertongen, Paulinho, Dembele, Chadli in particular have played no role as yet and so we do not know where (or even if) they are in the new managers plans. One suspects they are and I would be very surprised if they aren’t. It is possible though that they have not yet got their fitness levels up to the required exacting standard enforced by the new regime and these fitness levels are going to be key to this season. One of Southampton’s problems last season was that they faded towards the end of games and over a long season we will need to utilise the whole squad to maintain the level of performance that this style of play will require.

So, the next game (apart from possibly some behind closed doors games during the week) will be the seasons’ opener at West Ham and it is not easy to predict what our starting line up will be. Naughton will start if Walker is injured and Lloris is a shoe in as well but apart from that we are guessing. I suspect that Rose may get the nod over Davies and Vertongen will partner Kaboul. I would also guess that Adebayor will start with Kane and Lamela, and Eriksen will almost certainly feature but this is guesswork based on what were essentially 5 fitness and familiarity exercises pre-season.

That is the story so far and it’s not much more than a short prologue really, but a short prologue to what? Do the Spurs faithful have the patience to see this story through or will we get bored after the first chapter? We shall see.

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