Lamela could be the key for Spurs this season
Mauricio Pochettino’s task for this season is to do what both Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood failed at. Bed in nearly £100m worth of talent, play entertaining football, secure a Champions League spot, and win some silverware.
At 10/3 to finish in the top four, Spurs have to settle and adopt a clear identity. Pochettino likes his teams to play attacking football, however he must decide which offensive personnel fit into his thoughts.
There had been suggestions that he should build the team around Christian Eriksen; undoubtedly the best of last summer’s additions. However, £30m record buy, Erik Lamela has been tipped for big things, after finally recovering from a back injury, and it could be his compatriot boss who gets the best out of him.
If Lamela can establish a good relationship with Eriksen, Spurs can be effective, especially if they can help £24m striker signing Roberto Soldado finish. It is perhaps a little too easy to criticise the Spaniard; many saying he isn’t fast enough for the Premier League. However, he was successful in La Liga because he had constant company up front.
Villas-Boas didn’t recognise this, and Sherwood found it too easy to identify the problem, and instead brought Emmanuel Adebayor in. The two forwards are too similar to play together, and perhaps this is where Pochettino may want to add someone else to complement him. Jay Rodriguez, who played under him at Southampton, was reportedly a target and would have been the perfect foil; however, he is injured and the Hampshire club have refused to sell any more stars.
Tottenham’s signings have been mainly defensive this summer. Left back Ben Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm have both been brought in from Swansea, while centre half Eric Dier joined from Sporting Lisbon. Although USA’s 21-year-old World Cup right back DeAndre Yedlin has been snapped up from Seattle Sounders, he will officially join for the 2015/16 campaign, with the MLS season already halfway through.
Youngsters such as 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb are also being tipped to progress, with the Algeria midfielder displaying huge potential last season. Harry Kane, 21, who has just signed a new five-year contract at White Hart Lane, could represent the future in the striking department, and it will be interesting to see how he is utilised this term.
Possibly the best bit of business this summer was keeping first-choice stopper Hugo Lloris, after the France number one also committed to the club for another five years. It could be smart by Pochettino to get his back five in order first and build from there. After all, the best teams have done that in the past. Key for Spurs is establishing a spine, and the lack of an imposing defensive midfielder could affect them. Morgan Schneiderlin had been identified, though like Rodriguez, Southampton are refusing to negotiate.
This leaves existing personnel such as Paulinho or Mousa Dembele, although questions have to be raised over their discipline to stay put, and not go wandering aimlessly around the pitch. Spurs kick off their campaign away against West Ham, and despite losing twice to them last term, they are odds-on at 10/11 for victory.