Things may well change in the 11th hour but at the time of writing Tottenham haven’t signed a single player. Add to that the majority of the squad going deep in the World Cup and Spurs fans have been treated to one of the most comically irrelevant pre-seasons imaginable.
The vast majority of minutes, that we are told are crucial to building fitness, were absorbed by squad players unlikely to be in Pochettino’s long-term plans and youngsters, who while promising and we are glad to see sight of, are some way off breaking into the squad on a more permanent basis.
With the likes of Harry Kane, Dele, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris only returning to training this week they may well remain out of the starting XI for the season opener against Newcastle.
Media murmurs suggest youngster Luke Amos will be awarded his full debut filling in defensive midfield. This is what we’re looking at as a baseline:
Eriksen and Sissoko pose further issues with mild injury worries. The only real competition for a place is between Fernando Llorente and Georges-Kevin N’koudou – with Son able to move between out wide and up top to facilitate it.
With neither seemingly in Pochettino’s good books this is slim pickings and Twelve agrees.
At least here though Twelve gives us a clear favourite in Llorente.
It appears likely that Ben Davies will continue his pre-season role filling in at centre-back. This is something he’s proven capable of with Wales but he’s done so in a back three where his wide centre-back role is comparable to that of a full-back.
For Spurs he has played less than a full game’s worth of minutes as a central defender in the Premier League and half of that again in a back three.
If we’re judging him on pre-season, with all the caveats that come with that, there’s a lot to fear. Davies looked lost as Girona repeatedly made a mockery of Tottenham’s defensive line in Spurs’ final pre-season game. A 4-1 loss.
Not to the same extreme, but it has been a fairly quiet window for Newcastle too, following a potential change in ownership breaking down. Dubravka, Schar, Kenedy and Rondon make up the majority of purchases, and all threaten to have an immediate impact on the first team.
Salomon Rondon is certainly the most eye-catching transfer. His debut season for West Brom was full of promise though the general impression of him has since subsided. How does the Venezuelan’s final season in Birmingham rank for Twelve?
Not too bad. And there’s little surprise, as a Tony Pulis acquisition, his most notable contributions are defending from the front and headers in the box. It’s that department that is the big (about 6′ 1″) scare for Tottenham if injuries and fatigue force Ben Davies into a central role. Newcastle will be looking to take advantage of that aerial mismatch in front of goal.
For all the talent missing from Pochettino’s selection menu Spurs still boast the superior starting line-up, but will that be enough? Rafa Benitez is very much a known quantity, and we can fully expect Newcastle to sit ten players behind the ball and make it a real challenge for Spurs’ B team.
The majority of the weight will fall upon the shoulders of Christian Eriksen (one of Spurs’ top two players last season), who will be tasked with both controlling the midfield and creating the majority of chances. Son has a single game to leave Tottenham a parting gift before heading off to represent his country at the Asian Games. On the opposite flank we will get a picture of whether Lucas can carry his pre-season form (the one major positive for Spurs this summer) in to the season proper.