In the first ten years of the Premier League being created, Tottenham only managed a finish higher than tenth on four occasions. During the last ten seasons, Spurs have only finished outside of the top ten once. It’s a remarkable transformation for a football club who has living in the shadows of their North London rivals for a substantial period of time.
In the Premier League era, Tottenham’s proliferation has been nothing short of incredible. Especially when you consider the very noisy neighbour with in a small radius of Tottenham’s turf. North London is now a more level playing field. Ten years ago, this looked unthinkable, how have Tottenham gone from mid table minnows to championship contenders?
Juande Ramos’ termination as manager of Tottenham started a revolution in the embers and depths of White Hart Lane as Tottenham were forced to appoint their fourth manager in four years. Harry Redknapp stabilised on pitch matters as Daniel Levy considered how to stabilise matters off it. Levy has flirted with footballing executives before deciding upon a more continental approach with Franco Baldini working with Andre Villas-Boas.
Despite all this tinkering, Tottenham’s top brass never concluded on a solution, with multiple Sporting Directors from Franco Baldini to Fabian Comolli, arguably two of footballs most experienced footballing directors, have found Tottenham’s desire for consistency hard to come by. That was until a young Argentinian exploded onto the English football scene in the South Coast.
Mauricio Pochettino arrived in North London after Tottenham’s removal of Tim Sherwood. Pochettino’s remit from Levy seemingly obvious, finally achieve consistency. Levy’s hunger and desire for success has led Tottenham down a road of open mindedness. This led to a more continental approach; however, going back to basics has seen Tottenham become a superpower in more recent times.
Prior to Pochettino’s appointment, for Tottenham, it was about consolidation somewhere between Europa League football and fighting for the esteemed fourth place. Pochettino has picked up a Tottenham side challenging for the top four and turning it into a side fighting for the highest honour. Pochettino deserves a medal for meritorious conduct.
In Pochettino’s opening 100 league games as Tottenham manager, he has a win percentage of over 55%, which is the highest of any other Tottenham manager who has managed 100 league games for Spurs. The Pochettino revolution and rise of Tottenham, has been achieved with a base of young English talent. Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane have been pivotal to Spurs success in the last two seasons.
I would argue that before Pochettino’s appointment, Tottenham lacked identity and an obvious way of playing, however, this has changed radically since Pochettino came to the helm.
This tactical identity has been built from the foundations of a defensive solidarity. In Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, Pochettino has found two of the best centre backs in world football. He has also installed an infectious belief and an offensive freedom to not only benefit the football club, but improve players individually. Dele Alli has been transformed from a quiet, waving teenager to a footballing superstar. He’s transformed Harry Kane from a striker who looked to be struggling to form a career to a striker who is prolific and consistent.
Tactically, Spurs play with attacking full backs in Walker and Rose who create almost a four in midfield alongside two of Wanyama, Dier and Dembele. The more defensively deployed midfielder will split the centre backs and create a three at the back formation to allow more of a ball playing style. Offensively, the two inside forwards support Kane who works between the posts with Alli and Eriksen providing creativity and technical excellence. Tottenham have the most shots on goal per game in the Premier League, with just over 17 shots on goal being attempted.
Following his arrival at Tottenham, Pochettino was part of a handful of managers to begin giving his team tactical meetings. These meetings are a regular occurrence in European football, especially highly tactical leagues like Italy and Spain. The meticulousness of these meetings allowed Pochettino to structure and adapt his sides tactics to certain styles of play.
A massive change in Tottenham’s play under Pochettino has come on the ball. Spurs have the third highest possession figures in the division which complements the sheer amount of shots on goal Spurs are having. They are not just playing through the thirds of the pitch, but they are creating chances. 49 of Tottenham’s goals have come from open play.
Recruitment has been a key string to Tottenham’s bow. Buying young, hungry players has led to an energetic and tight knit group. As Tottenham boss, Pochettino has only signed one player over the age of 30, Michel Vorm, a second-choice goalkeeper. This statistic epitomises how Pochettino has tried to change Tottenham. Subtly and cautiously.
Tottenham are proof football clubs don’t need to spend hundreds of millions to challenge for the title. A clear plan with an intelligent manager willing to give youth a chance can be just as successful. Pochettino has been an excellent appointment for Spurs and propelled them from challengers to contenders, why isn’t being touted with the top jobs in football?
To conclude, the rise of Tottenham has been extraordinary. Finally, the football club have found consistency. Good consistency. Under Pochettino and his squad, Tottenham have arguably played some of the best football this season and it’s not a silly suggestion to say Tottenham could challenge for the title again in 2017-18, possibly even win it.