The footballing world, dominated by multi-millionaires, is now seeing whole nations invest in clubs (Abu Dhabi in Manchester City and Qatar in Paris Saint-Germain) but, whereas other teams are beginning to lose their English identity, Spurs are still rooted in their traditions with the team still being identifiable with the club’s illustrious past. The legendary Danny Blanchflower, who lit up White Hart Lane throughout the 1950s and 1960s, once remarked that the ‘game is about the glory, doing things in style, with a flourish…not waiting for the other team to die of boredom’. This famous quote can still be associated with Spurs today under Mauricio Pochettino, who has managed to maintain Spurs’ attacking elegance that the fans so dearly love whilst creating a rock solid defence – the best defence in the league.
An English core
Although Spurs are often associated with foreign players, as Keith Burkinshaw was the first manager to incorporate foreign talent into his team with the signings of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, Pochettino today has a huge array of English talent at his fingertips. I find it astonishing that two modern giants, Manchester City and Chelsea, only had two English players starting out of 22 and only 4 English players out of the 36 starters and substitutes last week. This is a stark contrast to Spurs and is perhaps testament to Pochettino’s work developing academy graduates and nurturing them into future stars. In April of this year, Pochettino stated that he felt it was his ‘duty’ to respect English culture and build his team around his English players whereas many other coaches would immediately seek to bring in players from abroad. In Tottenham’s latest Champions League fixture, a 3-1 victory over CSKA Moscow, 6 English players started (Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Harry Kane) underlining that Pochettino remains steadfast to his philosophy.Embed from Getty Images
Pochettino’s effort with the academy players shouldn’t go unnoticed and shouldn’t be taken for granted; his integration of the younger players into the match day squads ensures that when the time arrives for them to make the leap up to first team football, it isn’t as daunting for them. Josh Onomah, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks have all been slowly introduced to the first team set up and all have bright futures – Carter-Vickers has impressed Pochettino on numerous occasions whilst both Onomah and Winks grabbed their first goals for the club earlier this campaign.
Whereas some Premier League managers create solid defensive units but fail to maintain goal-scoring threat, Pochettino has managed not to lose the side’s attacking capabilities but also create the league’s best defence. This was made evident in the 5-0 thrashing of Swansea at the weekend, one of the most one-sided league games of the Premier League era. Spurs’ history is steeped in midfield elegance with past players such as David Ginola, Luka Modric and Glenn Hoddle all lighting up White Hart Lane, and this has been maintained with the likes of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Erik Lamela in today’s squad. The fans also love a goal scorer, from Jimmy Greaves to Jurgen Klinsmann, and with Harry Kane, we have a traditional centre-forward, an out and out goal-scorer with a passion for his club. Pochettino has masterminded a combination of attacking flair and defensive solidity to ensure Spurs haven’t lost their traditional fast-paced attacking style and, whereas Mourinho and Van Gaal would wait for the other team to die of boredom to ensure of the three points, Pochettino most certainly wouldn’t.Embed from Getty Images
Do you agree that Spurs are still very much an attacking team? What did you think of the 3-1 Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow? Should we prioritise the Europa League? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a tweet @Hotspur_Huddle