Mauricio Pochettino has been a hit at Tottenham Hotspur since taking over as manager in the 2015/16 campaign. The Argentine has famously never won a trophy in his managerial career, but it is unlikely that most of the Spurs faithful care much about that. What is more important is the fact that he has made the club compete against the top six in England as equals.
Champions League football has also become a regular at the White Hart Lane, and more recently at Wembley. The former Espanyol and Southampton boss has transformed the team into one of the best in Europe. Beating European champions Real Madrid last season was a first and one of the kind of things now happening at the club.
Back home, Tottenham finished the 2016/17 campaign in second place. It was the closest the club has come to ending its trophy drought.
The last time a trophy was celebrated at the Lane was the League Cup in 2008. Such success has become long overdue. But Pochettino has come really close to glory. Yes, he has not yet made it happen, but three seasons finishing in the top three positions on the Premier League table is as close as it gets.
However, when the club failed to sign a single player in the summer transfer window, it was not a good sign. Being the only side to make no new signings does not show ambition. If Pep Guardiola who has built a well-oiled machine that dominated the league last term and won it with relative ease could still break club transfer records to bring in Riyad Mahrez, then what was the club hierarchy thinking?
As it turns out, results on the pitch prove if the decision was a stroke of genius or something close to its opposite. So far, it’s been a mixed bag. After labouring to a 2-1 victory against Newcastle United in the season’s opener, the team followed that up with a relatively hard-fought yet expected 3-1 win at home to Fulham.
The club pulled a surprise by humbling José Mourinho’s Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford. The result had many talking up the club’s chances this season. But as if to warn them to reconsider their stand, Tottenham capitulated in the next game against Watford. The Hornets came back from 1-0 down to beat their more illustrious rivals 2-1 at Vicarage Road. It was a wake up call.
But it does seem Pochettino and his men did not get the memo. Another loss against Liverpool in the very next match makes it two losses in just five league matches. The real concern though is the response both after the Watford loss and when the team went behind against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Missing the goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli in midfield, the team lacked the usual intensity associated with their play. Liverpool won the game without even having to push themselves. And that, at Spurs’ home.
The competition in the league this season promises to be even stiffer. London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea have new managers charged with taking the sides back to the top. Liverpool are armed to the teeth after making new acquisitions to fix the weak areas in their team. A 100% run so far makes their intentions clear.
Need we mention the fact that the two Manchester clubs, City and United are in no mood for a slip up from the top four? So where does that leave Tottenham? After the relative success achieved in the last three campaigns, it does appear as if Tottenham are about to retrogress under the Argentine.