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Why has it gone stale?

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posted on 29/8/19

The core of this group – Hugo Lloris, Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Ben Davies, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane – has now gone through an entire four-year cycle, with some of them going longer. Eight of the regular starters have been there since Pochettino came in.
There just hasn’t been sufficient change around them, with that emphasised by so many underwhelming transfer windows, and that naturally removing some of the electrical charge. Even this window just kept the team at the level, with relatively direct replacements, rather than moving them in the way Paolo Dybala might have done.
This was precisely why Ferguson would make apparently abrupt decisions with personnel, often after years of just ticking along. Contrast his quiet summers of 1994 and 1999, for example, with the eyebrow-raising changes of 1995 and 2001.
Ferguson knew he needed to freshen it up, to keep a frisson in the team. Even the core players who weren’t moved on – like Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes – were still given competition to think about. It meant they weren’t dwelling on the manager’s message alone.
This is the dilemma almost every senior player at every successful team has articulated at some point: “No matter who you are, no matter what you say, the message will start to sound the same after a while.”
And too much has been the same at Tottenham. The core of the team has been the same. The manager has been the same. It is hard not to start thinking it’s why results have changed.
It should be stressed that none of this is to write either the manager or the team off. Look, for example, at both Jurgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund now after the disaster of 2014-15.
This is similarly not to say it will be as bad as that Bundesliga campaign. Pochettino and his team can both still be brilliant, and obviously still be brilliant together.
There’s also the reality that the rough patch was always going to come. Spells like this are something you’ll inevitably experience when you stay around somewhere long enough.
But the big challenge – arguably more than winning the secondary trophies like the League Cup – is rising to it and lifting the team again.
That is what makes this period, and particularly this Sunday’s North London derby, so engaging. But a rough patch it is, and the evidence is tangible and easy to see.
First of all, there are those 15 defeats in 2019. But there’s also the fact that they currently trump the number of wins (14). Spurs have actually only won four of the last 15, and haven’t won an away game in the league since January.
Many might fairly point to the Champions League run, and how it’s ridiculous to say a team that got to the club game’s greatest stage has gone “stale” – but that almost proves the point.
The eliminations of Manchester City and Ajax were not classically calculated Pochettino displays but largely adrenaline-fuelled chaos with wild swings and players pushing themselves through on emotion, in a way that is historically in-keeping with declining teams raising it amid the heightened atmosphere of big games.
There’s also the problem that there was no crescendo. The tepid final defeat to Liverpool was itself entirely in-keeping with the poor domestic performances. “Focusing on the Champions League” does not sufficiently explain such a drop-off.
Similarly, had those single big moments gone a different way in the big European ties, or one of either United or Arsenal not been a greater disaster at the end of last season, Spurs would have suddenly endured another underwhelming Champions League campaign and failed to qualify for the next one.
The reality is Spurs should easily be the third best side in the Premier League, but it suddenly feels they’re not because of a series of intangible complications. This is where the staleness, however, starts to become evident.
Right now, and going back to December 2018 in domestic competition, Spurs have been lacking in dynamism, in movement, in energy.
Take Sunday. The static movement of the front three, who just seemed bunched together, was a world away from the invigorating interchanges of their 2016-17 peak.
And what has happened to the pressing? This is a team that used to oppressively corral teams into the box to the point of collapse, and led to opposition coaches like Quique Sanchez Flores breathlessly describing them as “animals”. No one really talks about Spurs in that way right now, with such praise having passed onto Liverpool. There could be no more visible manifestation of “staleness”.
This is where the deeper challenge for Pochettino arises, in addressing this issue. But the concern so far is that it is instead only being reinforced by the same old approaches.
Just like Ferguson, Pochettino has very sensationally discarded big players before, specifically to create cohesion in the team.
The core idea has always been that any doubt, expressed by any player, dilutes the essential will of the team.
The problem is that such a view is far too hard-edged for the more uneven elements of team management, and there will always come a point when it is almost self-defeating.
That seems to have happened with Christian Eriksen, who actually looks more necessary than ever to Tottenham’s sense of attacking nous.
And yet, with the player’s future still in doubt, it is as if Pochettino has come up with some half-way house solution rather than the full-blooded team he idealises.
The argument is that will change once 2 September comes, and the Argentine absolutely knows who is with him for the season.
The issue right now is that it feels like these moves for cohesion are inadvertently rocking the bock. Many would also point to Pochettino’s own public comments about the lack of “unity” after the Newcastle game, which seem in-keeping with some of his more inconsistent sentiments of the last few months. He would on one hand talk about building a dynasty at Spurs, and then the other talk about leaving if they won the Champions League.
That is what this keeps coming back to: the issue of Pochettino not actually returning.
Playing into much of this is that many players actually expected a change. Sources say that, around May, some of the squad believed he would leave in the summer. Some were primed for him to go. Instead, they’re faced with the same old ambiguity.
There’s similarly the problem that some senior players have been a little more curious about the tactics. The outlines for how he wants the team to play aren’t quite as clear as they used to be, with more focus on individuals being asked to do different jobs in different games. It just feels more of a muddle, of the type that arises when an idea has been in place for a while.
One theory among the players about Vertonghen is that, coming from the more outspoken Ajax school, he has inadvertently made comments that Pochettino hasn’t liked. So he’s been left out, leaving Spurs short of their best team.
Realistically, Pochettino hasn’t even been able to field his strongest starting XI. From the sides that have started so far this season, it’s likely to look very different – especially in midfield.
The Argentine, for his part, has mirrored Ferguson there and totally transformed a key area of the team. It’s just that Tanguy N’Dombeleand Giovani Lo Celso haven’t been fit enough yet.
Their introduction should invigorate the side, especially given their specific attacking talents. They should encourage more movement of players, and the ball, allowing them to more naturally unlock teams again.
Some players also feel the explanation for the current form is much more prosaic: that the current “staleness” is really just the usual effect of a high-intensity pre-season – the effects of which will eventually come good for the team.
Pochettino has also specifically spoken about a new cycle and freshening things up.
It is of course highly likely that a mid-season surge makes all this seem utterly ridiculous, and will make arguments like this all the more puzzling.
But it doesn’t change the fact that some of the players are puzzled now – and not just about Vertonghen.
Saturday is another big north London derby that will feed into a much bigger debate. The hope for many is that it’s “typical Pochettino” in the best sense: pushing through when all logic suggests you’ve hit a ceiling.

posted on 29/8/19

How is he suppose to recycle the squad when for one season we signed nobody. Is he expected to sign a new squad in one window?

posted on 29/8/19

Excellent article. This bit is particularly compelling for me:

"Just like Ferguson, Pochettino has very sensationally discarded big players before, specifically to create cohesion in the team.
"The core idea has always been that any doubt, expressed by any player, dilutes the essential will of the team.
"The problem is that such a view is far too hard-edged for the more uneven elements of team management, and there will always come a point when it is almost self-defeating."


You do get the sense with Pochettino that sometimes he sticks to his principles to the point of self-harm when a more flexible man-manager might allow a bit of leeway for certain individuals.

The general point about staleness, though, feels growingly and worryingly accurate to me, though. I guess time will tell, because certainly other factors are having an effect too at the minute.

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Desperate Dier-Bring me Ndombele (U6468)
posted 12 minutes ago
How is he suppose to recycle the squad when for one season we signed nobody. Is he expected to sign a new squad in one window?
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That's kinda the point isn't it. The article is saying that staleness creeps in over time, and Spurs' squad hasn't been adequately refreshed to combat it. I don't think the article specifically blames Pochettino for that. Anyone with their head screwed on will realise that's Levy's responsibility more than Pochettino's.

posted on 29/8/19

Definitely Levy . I am optimistic that things will improve once the window closes and the new signings are up to speed.

I think Ndombele will get us playing the way we did when we had Dembele in his prime. It will obviously take some time but I have seen enough of him to suggest he would improve us.

posted on 29/8/19

I agree. Spurs' issue at the moment is speed of transition and ball progression from defence to attack. That's why the team is so easy to defend against at the moment - the ball takes so long to get forward that by the time Spurs get into the opposition half, the opposition's defence is lined up in a compact shape which is difficult to penetrate because there's so little room.

Players like Ndombele and Lo Celso are specialists at moving the ball forward quickly, and - more importantly - beating the first tackler (and often the second) and breaking into space, running with the ball at pace while the opposition is not yet settled and is forced to backtrack under pressure.

Having quick full backs would be incredibly helpful as well, but hopefully Ndombele and Lo Celso can make a big difference in making Spurs a much more progressive team.

posted on 29/8/19

I think it's fairly obvious what has happened to anyone that has followed Spurs and football in general, had to happen but could have been less drastic if Levy and his backers had invested regularly in the squad, now we have a great stadium and a half knackered team that shows no passion at all to showcase it, definitely some lack of planning has gone into this, I believe also that Poch should have left after CL final maybe his plan never worked out so he's still hear, going to be difficult for him and this squad going forward this season. Levy made a big show of signing this N'dombele early in the window had us all thinking that finally he was going to revamp the squad but never went far enough as we all know

comment by sandy (U20567)

posted on 29/8/19

I think we need to stop keep blaming Levy. The bottom line is Pochettino picks the team, and if he thinks leaving Eriksen and Verts out of the team is the way forward, then the buck stops with him. And he may also stop all the nonsense of keep saying our new players are not ready, if that is the case why are they on the bench then? Just play them Pochettino, then we will all know if they are ready.

posted on 29/8/19

Great article.... interesting point about Fergie recycling the squad to keep things fresh.... Thinking about the way he sold the likes of Becks, Stam, RVN, Keane and the first signs of trouble even though they were still great... Theres a gradual evolution to the whole process... TBF Wenger also did it Arsenal, even though some sales were probably against his wishes..... Its how the great managers are capable of of having multiple great teams during their tenure. Of course its far easier if you dont have a boss like Levy and a stadium to pay for

posted on 29/8/19

I think you need to take Poch's words at face value.. he said it might have been the time to leave had we won the CL. Thats quite a statement to make based upon the outcome of one game but I think its says a lot about where his mind is at, what this job has taken out of him and what in his mind is truly possible at Spurs given the restrictions.

If he now starts a season with an unsettled squad, players running down contracts, wage issue ongoing and a near enough flat net spend (if Eriksen and or another leave) then what has been a tough job to date will only get harder. Much of what Poch does is having players buy into him and be 100% committed.... If the same players hear the same stuff year after year his influence/ impact diminishes..... I think thats where we find ourselves. All of what is happening now is a result of the last 12 months of inactivity in the mkt prior to this summer

posted on 29/8/19

comment by sandy (U20567)
posted 26 minutes ago
I think we need to stop keep blaming Levy. The bottom line is Pochettino picks the team, and if he thinks leaving Eriksen and Verts out of the team is the way forward, then the buck stops with him. And he may also stop all the nonsense of keep saying our new players are not ready, if that is the case why are they on the bench then? Just play them Pochettino, then we will all know if they are ready.
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In this post: Sandy ignores literally the entirety of the article in question because it doesn't fit his agenda.

posted on 29/8/19

Fergie could do what he wanted because he earnt the right as he was a serial winner who delivered the biggest trophies consistently.

Poch cant just sacrifice points by dropping our best players due to some personal issue. We need points, and we need trophies... the last 5 years we have had some of the best spurs squads that we have ever had, and have won absolutely fack all.

Poch should really have won something by now, and we would have id he didn't keep making shocking decisions in the latter stages of cups.

e.g. son at LB v Chelsea in fa cup semi
e,g. panicking in the league cup final v Man U and making poor half time subs
e.g. dropping our most inform player and scorer, Lucas Moura, for the CL final.


Poch is made for spurs.... are quality, classy manager but falls short at the final hurdle... just like this club has done time and time and time again.

getting a bit fed up with it

comment by sandy (U20567)

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Amanda Hugginkiss (U11574)
posted 19 minutes ago
comment by sandy (U20567)
posted 26 minutes ago
I think we need to stop keep blaming Levy. The bottom line is Pochettino picks the team, and if he thinks leaving Eriksen and Verts out of the team is the way forward, then the buck stops with him. And he may also stop all the nonsense of keep saying our new players are not ready, if that is the case why are they on the bench then? Just play them Pochettino, then we will all know if they are ready.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In this post: Sandy ignores literally the entirety of the article in question because it doesn't fit his agenda.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Er no I don`t, the long article basically saying that Poch is not doing his job properly, and that is what I have been saying for months. I don`t have any agenda mate. It is pretty simple Poch has been bloody awful managing the team in the Prem for the last six months. The results back me up.

posted on 29/8/19

comment by sandy (U20567)
posted 19 minutes ago
comment by Amanda Hugginkiss (U11574)
posted 19 minutes ago
comment by sandy (U20567)
posted 26 minutes ago
I think we need to stop keep blaming Levy. The bottom line is Pochettino picks the team, and if he thinks leaving Eriksen and Verts out of the team is the way forward, then the buck stops with him. And he may also stop all the nonsense of keep saying our new players are not ready, if that is the case why are they on the bench then? Just play them Pochettino, then we will all know if they are ready.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In this post: Sandy ignores literally the entirety of the article in question because it doesn't fit his agenda.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Er no I don`t, the long article basically saying that Poch is not doing his job properly, and that is what I have been saying for months. I don`t have any agenda mate. It is pretty simple Poch has been bloody awful managing the team in the Prem for the last six months. The results back me up.
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Sandy is right, its a results business, and in the last 6 months the results indicate that Poch isn't doing a good job at the moment. Lots of credit in bank though.

A win in the NLD would be a step in the right direction, but would still only leave us on 7 points from 4 games

posted on 29/8/19

That's not what the article says though, is it.

posted on 29/8/19

I wouldn't be shocked if Poch left Spurs this season, I don't think they would sack him, and took a year off much like Pep and Anchelotti did

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Diamondlights (U20501)
posted 1 hour, 1 minute ago
I think you need to take Poch's words at face value.. he said it might have been the time to leave had we won the CL. Thats quite a statement to make based upon the outcome of one game but I think its says a lot about where his mind is at, what this job has taken out of him and what in his mind is truly possible at Spurs given the restrictions.

If he now starts a season with an unsettled squad, players running down contracts, wage issue ongoing and a near enough flat net spend (if Eriksen and or another leave) then what has been a tough job to date will only get harder. Much of what Poch does is having players buy into him and be 100% committed.... If the same players hear the same stuff year after year his influence/ impact diminishes..... I think thats where we find ourselves. All of what is happening now is a result of the last 12 months of inactivity in the mkt prior to this summer
----------------------------------------------------------------------

If you think its difficult now, imagine 12 months time.

Assuming all stay on.....Toby, Vertonghen & Eriksen at the end of contracts.

KWP & Aurier simply not good enough.

Rose & Wanyama with 1 year left.

7 players, 6 of which are first team regulars who will need directly replacing. We will earn little or nothing from their departures. Unless we expect to have a back for of Sessegnon, Foyth, Sanchez & new RB, a prospect that fills me with total dread, then we wil lneed to spend big next summer.

I sense that Sanchez is being played now because he really does have to become a worthy first choice otherwise looking beyond Toby & Verts, we have nothing like the quality.

and what will Kane do in all this. If we fail to imrpove and really challenge this season, then will he have the patience to wait for a further rebuild.

Massive season for us. We really need the likes of Sanchez and Foyth to develop, NDombele and LoCelso to settle and be a success and for Winks to also begin to show top form consistently.

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Amanda Hugginkiss (U11574)
posted 1 hour, 27 minutes ago
comment by sandy (U20567)
posted 26 minutes ago
I think we need to stop keep blaming Levy. The bottom line is Pochettino picks the team, and if he thinks leaving Eriksen and Verts out of the team is the way forward, then the buck stops with him. And he may also stop all the nonsense of keep saying our new players are not ready, if that is the case why are they on the bench then? Just play them Pochettino, then we will all know if they are ready.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In this post: Sandy ignores literally the entirety of the article in question because it doesn't fit his agenda.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sandy only has one agenda, it's either black or white no shades inbetween

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Devonshirespur (U6316)
posted 8 minutes ago
comment by Diamondlights (U20501)
posted 1 hour, 1 minute ago
I think you need to take Poch's words at face value.. he said it might have been the time to leave had we won the CL. Thats quite a statement to make based upon the outcome of one game but I think its says a lot about where his mind is at, what this job has taken out of him and what in his mind is truly possible at Spurs given the restrictions.

If he now starts a season with an unsettled squad, players running down contracts, wage issue ongoing and a near enough flat net spend (if Eriksen and or another leave) then what has been a tough job to date will only get harder. Much of what Poch does is having players buy into him and be 100% committed.... If the same players hear the same stuff year after year his influence/ impact diminishes..... I think thats where we find ourselves. All of what is happening now is a result of the last 12 months of inactivity in the mkt prior to this summer
----------------------------------------------------------------------

If you think its difficult now, imagine 12 months time.

Assuming all stay on.....Toby, Vertonghen & Eriksen at the end of contracts.

KWP & Aurier simply not good enough.

Rose & Wanyama with 1 year left.

7 players, 6 of which are first team regulars who will need directly replacing. We will earn little or nothing from their departures. Unless we expect to have a back for of Sessegnon, Foyth, Sanchez & new RB, a prospect that fills me with total dread, then we wil lneed to spend big next summer.

I sense that Sanchez is being played now because he really does have to become a worthy first choice otherwise looking beyond Toby & Verts, we have nothing like the quality.

and what will Kane do in all this. If we fail to imrpove and really challenge this season, then will he have the patience to wait for a further rebuild.

Massive season for us. We really need the likes of Sanchez and Foyth to develop, NDombele and LoCelso to settle and be a success and for Winks to also begin to show top form consistently.
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There's a lot "ifs" in all that. No chance of all of that happening.... so then sadly its back to relying on Levy for money.... Its a vicious circle. The last 12-18 has been a house of cards at Spurs and we all knew it wasn't sustainable. We have been relying on a manager/ team to overachieve, theres been no LT planning (please dont give me Jack Clarke or Sessegnon !!!). I bet Levy was praying he could squeeze 1 more year out of this team/ manager before he hoped he would be generating the kid of rev to fund a big rebuild... It feels a bit like his time ran out early.. I suspect the CL run didn't help.

On the subject of revs & timing..... still no stadium naming rights !!!!! WTF

posted on 29/8/19

The Jack Clarke signing is just such a weird one. He can't even get in Leeds' team, yet next season he'll be 19 and supposed to be pushing for a first-team role at Spurs.

But if he doesn't play at Leeds and obviously he wouldn't play at Spurs if recalled, you'd be looking at a 19-going-on-20-year-old with maybe 30 first-team appearances under his belt (he currently has 22).

Comparing him to players like Messi and Mbappe at a similar age is unfair, for sure, but the idea is he's supposed to be a Spurs first-XI player in the long run. If he's ever going to become a good enough player to hold down a starting slot at a top-4 side, then he needs to be pushing for a place on the bench at least by the time he's 20, surely? At his current trajectory there's no hope of that.

posted on 29/8/19

comment by Amanda Hugginkiss (U11574)
posted 18 minutes ago
The Jack Clarke signing is just such a weird one. He can't even get in Leeds' team, yet next season he'll be 19 and supposed to be pushing for a first-team role at Spurs.

But if he doesn't play at Leeds and obviously he wouldn't play at Spurs if recalled, you'd be looking at a 19-going-on-20-year-old with maybe 30 first-team appearances under his belt (he currently has 22).

Comparing him to players like Messi and Mbappe at a similar age is unfair, for sure, but the idea is he's supposed to be a Spurs first-XI player in the long run. If he's ever going to become a good enough player to hold down a starting slot at a top-4 side, then he needs to be pushing for a place on the bench at least by the time he's 20, surely? At his current trajectory there's no hope of that.
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Isn't there some link between Poch and Leeds manager, could that be the key

posted on 29/8/19

is that crisis over yet

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