2015/16 was a breakthrough campaign for Spurs, as the men from North London secured Champions League football for the first time in five years under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino.
With this in mind, Anthony Koval explores the five things that we’ve learned from this year’s campaign – where the team have grown, where weaknesses still remain and what needs to be done to achieve even greater success next year.
Spurs finally have a solid defence.
Since the days of Ledley King, Tottenham have struggled constantly to solidify a back four that opposition attackers feared. Hugo Lloris time and time again has made world class saves to keep Spurs competing in games, and Jan Vertonghen has had to deal with inconsistent partners like Younes Kaboul and Federico Fazio.
Now however, signing of the season Toby Alderweireld has transformed the defense into the best in all of England. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose both had great seasons, not only in defence but also offering attacking options on both flanks.
The reason our fullbacks can be so attacking is Eric Dier. Poch’s project has turned into a massive success as Dier quietly sits in front of the back four, almost acting like a third center back at times to allow Rose and Walker to get forward. The less you hear about Dier’s performance, the better the game he has played.
With 35 goals conceded, Spurs boasted the joint best record on this front. The days of a shaky back line appear to be a thing of the past.
Strength in depth needs to be top priority
Top players need viable replacements
After missing Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele for the final games of the season, it’s safe to say Spurs are a very different team without both of these men in the starting line up.
When Alli received his three game ban for his punch on West Brom’s Yacob, Hueng-Min-Son took his spot and delivered some quality performances, including picking up a couple of goals for his efforts.
However, once Dembele was suspended, Ryan Mason slotted in and things never looked the same.
With Mousa set to miss the first four games of next season, Daniel Levy must invest in someone similar to Dembele that can rotate with him within the squad.
Not only one midfielder, but perhaps another winger, and of course the one thing Spurs fans have been screaming for, for over a year… A backup striker for Harry Kane.
If Spurs are to succeed in the Champions League and Premier League, the rotation of quality players will be the reason.
Michy Batshuayi – cover for Kane?
Spurs have maturity problems
With the youngest team in the BPL, Spurs have shown on too many occasions that they lack maturity.
Dele Alli lost his cool against West Brom and the entire squad lost all composure against Chelsea, picking up nine yellow cards.
Spurs also lack the composure and maturity to close out games. This campaign, Tottenham dropped the most points in the league from winning positions. An astounding twenty points were missed out because Spurs were incapable of holding the lead they earned.
If that twenty is cut in half, the title race would’ve looked very different.
If Spurs are to grow on the success from this season, they must mature as human beings and remain composed in physical games and learn how to score the insurance goal to kill games off.
Time to sell deadweight.
Time for Nabil to go?
There’s a reason Spurs had depth issues all season, it’s because the squad has too much dead weight in it. It needs to be sold.
After a breakout 2014-2015 campaign, Ryan Mason looked poor all season after getting injured while scoring the winner against Sunderland early on.
Tom Carroll, another homegrown product played much like Mason did all season. Both were slow and never looked to move the ball forward, only backwards or side to side, and their defending abilities simply aren’t up to the standards of Champions League football.
Nacer Chadli is an interesting one. The man never seems to show up while on the field except for the occasional goal, but it’s time for him to go. His lack of impact on the game as a sub just simply isn’t acceptable.
Nabil Bentaleb has fallen off the face of the Earth, despite the fact that Bentaleb had a quality season with Mason, he’s off of Pochettino’s radar and if that continues, he should be sold as well.
Lamela and Dembele are the real deal
Dembele was the engine that made our team go this season. He was almost never dispossessed of the ball, and when he was it felt like time had stopped, that’s how shocking it was when it would happen.
Erik Lamela has become the leader of Poch’s high press. Lamela is no Gareth Bale, like some expected. After being nothing more than a one trick show pony in Europa league games, Lamela has absolutely transformed himself into a work horse.
He arrived from AS Roma with no work ethic and appeared capable of only producing indulgent skill moves and tame poor shots on target.
Now, Lamela runs tirelessly up and down the pitch and has bought into the system Poch has installed.
Both Lamela and Dembele are now key players to the long term success of Tottenham.
Written by Anthony Koval
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