In May, we were privileged to interview former Tottenham full-back, Paul Stalteri. When we asked him what he thought of Pochettino’s first season in charge of Spurs, he said “Hopefully they stick with the manager and don’t make another change…they need to stick with somebody for the next two to three years and allow them to put a long-term plan into play.” Now, with the season over, we wanted a fan’s perspective. Has this season been a success? Is there hope for the future? Assessing the situation is Carl Banks. Follow Carl on Twitter at @CarlTHFC.
For as long as I can remember Tottenham have always been a nearly team, and this season was no different. Our fan base is divided. Some feel this season was the best we could expect while some are disappointed once again with our failure to qualify for Champions League football.
Most clubs in the Premier League would be delighted to see their club reach a fifth consecutive season in the Europa League, but not us. We want more. As Bill Nicholson said “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low”, and we want Champions League football back at the Lane, those glory nights where we tore apart some of Europe’s elite clubs. Our Champions League outing in the 2010/11 season has given our fans certain expectations, and if we don’t reach them we’ve failed.
Tottenham played more games across all competitions than any other team in the Premier League this season (56) and with Pochettino coming in and pushing his high tempo style of play, there was always going to be a downturn. We knew initially that it was going to take time for Pochettino to impose his ways, and I can honestly say there has been an improvement in comparison to last season in the way we’ve been playing.
The defence is still a problem area, we conceded as many goals this season as relegated Burnley (53). We have arguably one of the best goalkeepers in world football and without him who knows how many goals we would have conceded. With the transfer of 22 year old centre-back Kevin Wimmer, we appear to be addressing a problem area early on which is a good sign. Links with Toby Alderweireld are welcome and hopefully signal the end of Chiricheș who has looked out of his depth in the 17 games he appeared in this season. Kyle Walker continues to frustrate, constantly using his pace to dig himself out of defensive errors. We can only pray that Yedlin or Dier can step up and make that position their own.
Overall, an extremely poor season defensively. However, with the new signing and rumoured further signings it does look like Pochettino and his backroom staff are addressing this problem. With hard work we hope to see better next year.
The manager has assembled a young squad with huge potential and we have to credit him for the further development of Bentaleb, Mason and Kane. He has won a lot of the players over and got them to buy into his philosophy quickly. At the beginning of the season Harry Kane was relatively unknown to most outside of the club, but by November he was first choice striker comfortably. By April he was matching goal-scoring records set by Gary Lineker back in ’92. He then went on to win PFA Young Player of the Year, score on his England debut and make the PFA Team of the Year. He was a shining light this season and providing he sticks with the club as expected, he will only continue to develop and perform. If Tottenham can rise with him, we should be able to hold on to him. If, however, we continue to miss out on the top four, he could well end up following Gareth Bale in the next couple of seasons.
As Kane almost single-handedly launched us to fifth in the table, he deservedly received all the plaudits. Nabil Bentaleb, however, has also been sensational. When he went to the African Cup of Nations with Algeria, the gap in our team was clear to see and I can recall seeing fans begging for his return. He makes the team tick, he’s comfortable on the ball, can make the difficult pass and pulls the strings. Along with Ryan Mason, Eric Dier and Danny Rose, you can see the youth developing exceptionally under Pochettino. Long may that continue.
Erik Lamela, like our season, has divided opinion once more. He continues to be selected for Argentina and is constantly linked with big moves to Juventus or Atletico Madrid. Towards the tail end of the season he started to show glimpses of what he did in Serie A. His rabona goal in the Europa League was Spurs’ goal of the season, and it has to be seen as what he is capable of when on form and confident. The optimist in me firmly believes he will reach his potential, but our fans are notoriously impatient. If they get on his back, it might ultimately be his undoing. At just 23, he is still in the early stages of his career and has plenty of time to reach the top of his game. The £30 million price tag has definitely caused him to receive a lot of unfair criticism. Under the guidance of fellow Argentine Pochettino, Lamela will flourish. We just need to give him the support he needs.
The highpoints of the season were undoubtedly the Capital One Cup final as well as the big results against Chelsea and Arsenal. With the new stadium build finally getting the green light, the future does look bright. That said, it is Tottenham we’re talking about. It is unlikely to be smooth sailing, and we should expect more bumps along the road.
If you’d have said to me at the beginning of the season that we would reach the final of the Capital One Cup, and finish above Liverpool in fifth place, I would have ripped your hand off, as would most. It would be unfair for me to say this season was a failure, but I also don’t feel comfortable calling it a success. It was, if anything, acceptable.
It’s refreshing to see Daniel Levy finally seeming to back a manager, the recent interview during the Malaysia tour suggesting that Pochettino will have full control over the transfer. If this is truly the case then we should be very optimistic about next year. It was also confirmed that Harry Kane will not be going anywhere (though we all know how that ended when the club said the same about Bale).
I remain hopeful that we will have a summer clear-out. Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Benjamin Stambouli, Federico Fazio, Moussa Dembele, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado have all had their chances and the majority have not shown that they have what it takes. Whilst it may appear rash to write them all off, I think it’s clear that they are not cut out for this level and it would be best for both parties if they moved on.
If Adebayor and Soldado do exit this summer, two strikers are a must. With recent reports linking us to highly-rated French U-21 striker Anthony Martial and Stuttgart’s teenage striker Timo Werner, we can see that Pochettino wants to put in place some fantastic youth prospects. With Danny Ings signing for Liverpool, Charlie Austin is another alternative. Having two English strikers would be refreshing to see and as Austin is already proven in the Premiership, he could be a safe bet.
To summarise, two decent strikers, and a couple of proven defenders would really push this Tottenham team on. We’re not going to be challenging for the Premier League next season, we’re not even going to be top three, but there is always that chance that we could ride a wave of luck and nick fourth (fingers crossed). Either way, the Tottenham fans will follow their team up and down the country and to the far outposts of Russia singing ‘Everywhere we go’ and hoping for a bit of silverware along the way.
Come on you Spurs! The future is bright, the future is Lilywhite.