Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Every Game is a Big Game

If Tottenham want to be considered a big club, they must start acting like one.

Every game Tottenham Hotspur play is a big game. That is the level they are at now. Every match they play will be scrutinised and analysed like never before. If you want to be a top club in England and Europe this is the price you pay, and Daniel Levy, Mauricio Pochettino and the players need to realise that quickly.

We can take a look at the rotating of players for Champions League fixtures later, but firstly let's go back to the summer and the recruitment and selling policy.

Pochettino has always stated that he ideally wants players with Premier League experience, however Spurs let two player's leave the club who have heaps of that experience Pochettino craves. Now Ryan Mason and Nacer Chadli are not world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, and some will say that the club received a good price for the pair of them, but in this day and age of the Premier League being the land of milk and honey, the difference between receiving £5m extra here or there is irrelevant. What Spurs lost in the summer were two players Pochettino could trust to do a solid job for him week in week out when required.

In the squad Mason and Chadli were replaced by Georges-Kevin N'Koudou and Moussa Sissoko.  One player with zero Premier League experience, and one who has played in the Premier League but to no great success.  Now Sissoko is a player who was mocked by his own fans and other supporters whilst at Newcastle...but he did have a good Euro's.  However if Spurs were desperate for him then his asking price was always £30m, and they could have bought him straight after Euro 2016 to integrate him properly. But no, Spurs waited until deadline day and needed another player for the squad, after selling Mason and Chadli and Sissoko was signed for that £30m.  Is Sissoko better than Mason? Not in my opinion.

Now we move to Vincent Janssen who after two good seasons in Dutch football was signed to be Harry Kane's back up/alternative.  Janssen was a gamble at £18m. Surely now was the time to make a statement, back in the Champions League with money to burn after the TV deal. Spurs could offer Champions League football, the Premier League and all it's trappings and being based in London.  But no, Spurs again too busy caught up in this project missed their chance.  I won't be too harsh on Janssen, but he doesn't look ready at all to being for a club which is trying to win the league, which Spurs surely are trying to do.  Yes Janssen tries hard, and he looks like he's trying hard, but he looks a fish out of water. I fully expect him to be somewhere on loan this time next year.

Now the befuddlement of our Champions League campaign.  Firstly Wembley, yes it's lovely seeing 90,000 fans at a "home" game. But these weren't home matches, they were played at a neutral stadium.  Immediately our home advantage was tossed away, and over the years I've seen plenty of European nights at the Lane were we've intimidated and beaten better sides on paper...Porto 92 and Inter 2010 spring to mind immediately.  However the club in their wisdom saw the £ signs over what would actually benefit the footballing aspect of the club.  As Keith Burkinshaw once said "there used to be a football club over there".

With that home advantage eradicated the two home games played so far were on a level playing field. The first game against Monaco, the occasion got to the players and they were out-played by the better side.  Would that have happened at White Hart Lane...highly unlikely. The second match against Bayer Leverkusen in front of the highest attendance for an English club for a "home" game, Spurs were terrible.  Really bad. This is partly due to Spurs being too reliant on Harry Kane. Yes he's a great player, but he can't do it all on his own. Kane was unavailable, so Spurs had the inconsistent Son and the afore-mentioned Janssen.

Which led to a must-win game in Monaco to continue our Champions League game, now yes the game came in a tough run of fixtures.  However the league title cannot be lost nor won in November, but you can be knocked-out of the Champions League in November.  It was inexplicable that Spurs went into that game with only one of the best defence in the Premier League playing in it.  You do rest our best players in key games. As I said before at this level every game is a big game.  Spurs got their just desserts last night, Pochettino should have seen from the 1st meeting that Monaco were now mugs, and could not take liberties with his team selection.

The Champions League campaign has been a shambles from start to finish, from the giving away of "home" advantage to the poor recruitment in the summer, to the rotation policy during the competition.  If Spurs are going to treat the Champions League as an afterthought when they finally achieve to qualify, what is the point in qualifying at all?

1 comment:

  1. You make a strong, passionate argument that is hard to disagree with. A waste of a CL campaign which look like being harder and harder to qualify for from now on. This makes a possible Europa league campaign a real conundrum. Do they go for it to keep CL qualification options open or do they jack that in and put all their eggs in the PL basket? Decisions decisions...