Tottenham Finally Has a Manager to Cure the “Spurs Syndrome”

Tottenham are perhaps the most frustrating big club in English football. Unlike Leeds United and Newcastle United, they have solid ownership even though the decision making of Chairman Daniel Levy, who runs the club, has been questioned. Last summer’s spending spree yielded little in the way of success during the 2013-14 season, but with a new manager in Mauricio Pochettino and a new optimism, Spurs could roar into the top 4 this season.

For years, I have discussed “Spurs Syndrome” — the underachievement of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club when compared to its local rivals. The failure time and again of big name players to replicate the form they have at other clubs at the North London-based side. This “syndrome” as I term it began in the 1997-1998 season and has generally continued since with the exception of two very good seasons under Martin Jol. Even under Harry Redknapp, I would argue Spurs underperformed at the most critical times. But this season, I sense things could be very different.

Prior to his shock appointment by Southampton in January 2013, Pochettino was best known in England for committing the foul for Argentina in the 2002 World Cup that allowed David Beckham to convert a penalty and carry the Three Lions to the knock-out stages of that World Cup. But at Southampton, he quickly earned a reputation for mixing eye-pleasing soccer with the defensive organization and shape the Saints were previously lacking. The club achieved safety in the 2012-13 season and then finished a surprising either last season.

Coming off a season filled with player and manager intrigue as well as multiple embarrassingly lopsided results against top sides, Spurs badly needed a change. The 2013-14 season was one of epic failure for a Spurs squad who entered the season with high hopes. Before the season began, the talk was of Spurs finishing in the top 4 and potentially having an outside shot at the title. It was widely assumed the Spurs would finish ahead of Arsenal in the league for the first time since the 1994-1995 season. Yet Tottenham lost three times to the Gunners during the season, dropping both league meetings and losing in the FA Cup Third Round.

This summer, Spurs are being discounted or hardly mentioned at all with regards to the top 4. That in my judgment is a mistake. Tottenham remains a very strong squad player-for-player and now has a manager who has proven he can maximize results in the Premier League.

Defensively, Spurs were a mess in the bigger matches last season. I would expect that to change under Pochettino, whose Espanyol and Southampton sides were always organized at the back and maintained enough ball possession to minimize opposition chances. While Tottenham continues to have issues with personnel in central defense, the shape will be better.

In midfield, Etienne Capoue is fit and should be a starter. Pochettino also has countless other options with the likes of Paulinho, Mousa Dembélé, Sandro and the young Tom Carroll (dubbed “the English Xavi” by some) fighting for a place.

In the wide areas, Spurs are spoiled for choice as club record signing Erik Lamela should come good under his compatriot Pochettino. Along with the likes of Nacer Chadli, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend available, the fight for spots will be competitive.

Tottenham have in a central attacking midfield role the outstanding Christian Eriksen and Lewis Holtby who has returned from a loan-stint at Fulham.

While Tottenham’s attacking options are limited, the club’s new tactical setup should allow whomever starts up top the ability to score goals. The quality of Tottenham’s midfield and tactical acumen of Pochettino will make the strikers look a lot more effective than they were last season.

I believe Spurs has an excellent opportunity to crack the top 4. While the focus of the media this summer has been on the witticisms of Louis Van Gaal, Pochettino, an accomplished young Manager with a track record of success in the English game, sits lurking with a very capable squad.

11 thoughts on “Tottenham Finally Has a Manager to Cure the “Spurs Syndrome””

  1. The thing I admired most about watching southhampton last year was their fearlessness against all sides. They would come out swinging against any team, not matter the reputation of the club and put them on uneven footing. This was often the case against liverpool, man city, man u, etc. As a diehard spurs fan, this is what I wanted to see. to dare is to do right…

    Too often there was pure capitulation against the top four. For the most part southhampton didn’t have this problem. My hope is that all of the signings from the previous season, and some of pochettino “go for it” attitude will lead to some surprising results and great football.

  2. I agree that there are reasons to be optimistic this season after the relative train-wreck that was 2013/2014 (three losses each to Arsenal and West Ham – of all the teams!), but I think we could do with strengthening in a few areas before we can think about a top four push. Left wing, while Townsend may up his output with some proper coaching, is a weak area – would like to see Depay come in to increase the chance of goals from out wide, with Townsend being a back up / impact sub. Lennon can cover Lamela on the right, and Chadli can cover both plus Eriksen.

    Also think – as promising as Dier was on Saturday – we need to lose Dawson and bring in Musacchio. After that I’d argue any reinforcements at Striker, DM, or RB would be more of a luxury than a necessity. But would really like to see those first two come in over the next two weeks. It’s not like we don’t have the money to spare – net spend of £8.5m last year, profit of £7m this summer, and new TV money! Plus deadwood to sell (Carroll, Ekotto and Dawson, I’m looking at you). COYS!

  3. Don’t insult young Tommy Carroll, a young Xavi? he’s far better than that. Try ‘a young Danny Blanchflower’, Tommy Carroll is going to be one of the greats.

    1. Difficult to determine whether or not that was sarcasm through text, but I’m going to assume not! I don’t see it with Carroll…he did very little at QPR last year – takes too long on the ball and telegraphs his passes too much. Time to cut our losses if you ask me.

  4. As a long time Spurs fan I feel your optimism maybes somewhat misplaced {as yet). You talk of “under achievment” yet you encourage high expectations without AS YET any real justification. I trust I am wrong but I believe that Spurs supporters should be CAUSIOUS until after September’s games.

  5. They had someone who cured it – our ‘Arry. But that wasn’t good enough for Levy. I wish this bloke well but he’ll have the Levy hangman always standing in the shadows.

  6. This is another transition year for Spurs. Good squad that needs to improve defensively first. But will the fans have the patience to wait out 1-0 and 0-0 results this year? They wouldn’t do it under AVB. Perhaps they have learned. However based on what I see and hear from some (I said some) Spurs fans, they are happy with always being the underdog; fighting for respect. They like flirting with the CL and being in it once in a while. Anything more than that and they fear they will lose their connection. Obviously that is not every fan’s view, but I have been hearing it ever since the season went into the toilet and all summer from some of the podcasts

  7. The striker opinions are limited and uncertain. Ade is inconsistent. An improved Soldado is possible but not for sure.
    If we could add Hernandez or Benteke; we’d be pretty darn solid. Very hopeful.

  8. The Spurs Syndrome is an insult to start. It is not easy to crack the top 4, especially with money behind the other clubs. We do not overspend, or operate at a loss, we have a small old stadium and cannot compete in wages with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and City. Calling last season an epic failure if poor journalism, if you know anything about soccer transitioning to England can take a full season for most players. We will have bright attacking football under Ponch. Match against west spam on the weekend, hopefully it will be a glory glory start to a great campaign. COYS

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