Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Do Spurs Have Any Players?

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.

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Company of the Cup

No fewer than nine players through to the semi-finals of the World Cup are signed to Tottenham Hotspur; more than any other club. The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson proposes that Mauricio Pochettino is the ‘most influential coach’ at the tournament.

It’s certainly nice to view his coaching through that lens and to also look at this as a mark of Spurs’ academy production and focus on smart recruitment of young, often domestic, talent paying off.

Another element is Pochettino’s clear influence on England’s play-style. Bielsa style counter-pressing and use of a three man defence to facilitate a Positional Play model are two major principles shared by both the club and the national team – though similar traits are also shared by Conte’s Chelsea and Pep’s City.

There can be little doubt that Pochettino is at the forefront of tactical and coaching development, a spearhead of effective, proactive football. The reality of the situation, though, is that it’s simply quite a lot down to chance that Tottenham boast such an impressive nine man ‘Company of the Cup’.

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Colombia 1-2 Japan: A Whisper in Davinson’s Ear

Have a search on Twitter for “fullback whisperer” and you will find the unending adulation of Spurs fans towards Mauricio Pochettino. His rapid development of, first at Southampton, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers, and now Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier has been remarkable. Hope for the future of Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters is quite high, despite the former’s ugly start.

But as a former centre-back himself it’s slightly surprising that it is wide defenders that he is most closely associated with as a coach.

On Tuesday many Tottenham fans will have tuned in to watch Colombia. A chance to get a sight of rumoured target Wilmar Barrios, and to see familiar face Davinson Sanchez. But he failed to turn in a familiar performance.

There’s no doubt that Carlos’ Sanchez 3rd minute red card had a significant impact on the remaining ten men’s games but it was Davinson’s fluffed clearance that led Carlos to reactively, illegally throw out his arm and stop the on-target shot.

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Spurs Player of the Season: Do Kids Know Best?

The Tottenham membership have ended the 2017/18 season divided among a generational line. Jan Vertonghen won the Members’ Player of the Season and Christian Eriksen the Junior Members’. Is much lauded experience the key to identifying Spurs’ Star or are the new generation of analytics awoken youth wise beyond their years?

Eriksen comes out top on Twelve’s ranking system with Vertonghen coming in 3rd to sandwich Harry Kane.

It is a testament to both his award-competing teammates and the standards set by the striker himself that he could record a 30 goal League season and still be deemed to have had a slightly off season.

Although the younger fans have opted for the more attacking player if they were making their selection based on goals and excitement then Kane would have been the obvious choice. Instead they collectively voted for the dainty Dane, a player of subtlety and guile.

Christian Eriksen

The Twelve widget captures him not only performing at various stages throughout the season but able to pick out a pass from anywhere on the pitch.

 

Eriksen has played wherever needed this season; left, right, central and even deep, sometimes all in the same game.

Whether this season’s consistency has come from within his own growth – mental, physical or technical – or whether this is simply a case of the team around him providing him with a more consistent platform of time on the ball and making the right movements around him is a matter of debate. The latter somewhat calls into question the very nature of individual awards.

 

Jan Vertonghen

The senior members’ pick too, has demonstrated a special consistency but this is less positional, and more about the various phases of the play. Vertonghen has trotted out an unwavering defensive solidity but combined this with line-breaking forwarded passes, mazy, one-footed, runs with the ball and aggressive switches of the play.

Again, stylistically, this is nothing new from the Belgian but taken to new levels this year. Perhaps this was a vote of relief for the One Hotspur members who have seen it all. This season they witnessed Jan shining in the absence of his countryman Toby Aldweireld.

Alderweireld asserted himself as the best defender in the Premier League over the last two season before missing the vast majority of 2017/18, at first through injury, and what now seems fairly clear to have been extended due to contractual disputes.

To have Vertonghen immediately step up and fill his place, and in turn new boy Davinson Sanchez turn in a highly impressive debut season, has provided an immediate and easy solution to what could have been a quite catastrophic problem.


So who wins?

For my two cents, I think oldies’ favourite Jan Vertonghen just edges it, but to leave Christian Eriksen un-celebrated would be an injustice of it’s own. On balance an even divide of individual awards between the two ex-Ajax stars probably captures the mood on a very close call.