So far, some would say it has been a quiet pre-season for Tottenham Hotspur as Mauricio Pochettino faces up to the challenges of a building upon a promising first season as Tottenham manager, with a fifth placed finish and cup final to show for his efforts. Often known for making at least one marquee signing in the summer transfer window, Spurs have quietly gone about strengthening the defence, with Belgian international and club shop shirt printers nightmare Toby Alderweireld being the highest profile name to join the club.
It’s unfair that defensive signings are often viewed as somewhat underwhelming but it is clear to see that Pochettino had clearly earmarked improving a defence that shipped 53 goals in the Premiership, a figure only beaten by four teams and two of those were relegated (Burnley and QPR).
Offensively, Spurs’ total of 58 goal scored was the fifth highest in the league, only bettered by the top four but it also needs to improve.
Since he arrived at Spurs Lodge on May 27th, the manager has seen the departure of 18 players including Michael Dawson, Kyle Naughton, Benji Stambouli, Paulinho, Sandro, Younes Kaboul and Lewis Holtby. Notably, none of the departures could be seen as key first team players and three were bought in the flush of the Gareth Bale transfer money. Stambouli had only been at the club 10 months.
Of the eight signings made in the summer of 2013, it has to be said that only two have had a positive impact and both were two of the cheaper signings, Christian Eriksen (£11.5 million) and Nacer Chadli (£7 million). The two biggest signings, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela have failed to offer anything like either their reputation or fee suggested they would. Three have now gone (Paulinho, Fryers and Capoue) and the club are hoping to sell Chiriches as soon as possible. At least six of the remaining squad are being looked to be moved on as soon as possible too and the wage bill is around £300,000 a week better off now.
Since that mad dash around Europe like an inter-railing student, the club has been far more restrained in its transfer dealings as this summer’s recruitment has shown. Kieran Trippier, Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer are all defensive signings and strengthen every position across the back four, whilst exciting midfield prospect Dele Alli had joined from MK Dons in January but was allowed to remain there until the season’s conclusion as they chased promotion to the Championship.
Often Spurs have been criticised, and quite rightly at times, about their failure to use the transfer market to strengthen but it is Chairman Daniel Levy’s key strength that he will always look to receive the maximum transfer fee for a Spurs player (£9 million for Steven Caulker anyone??). Yet this summer, Spurs have had a restrained, prudent transfer policy. Pochettino knew the defence needed work, they had several egotistical players causing issues off the pitch and undermining the manager and had to be moved on and he wanted the hungry prospects such as Alex Pritchard and Tom Carroll to know if they impressed the manager, they would get a chance. Clearly shifting the high earning and underperforming has been Baldini’s main task this summer.
Next to be improved will be the attacking options both in midfield and upfront as well as offloading further underperforming players such as Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend and Emanuel Adebayor. All three have suitors, amongst them Everton, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, so the club know they can move more out to go after the targets they need.
One new striker is definitely required, with Saido Berahino said to Pochettino’s top striking target despite paper talk continually linking the club with Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, a transfer I can see no hope in attaining. Everton’s James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas have also been linked with Spurs though Everton have been extremely quiet this summer so far.
For once, it may be in Tottenham’s best interests to keep things ticking along, quietly going about their business in a calm and unusually quiet manner. It’s oddly dull down at White Hart Lane so far. Yet one thing you can always guarantee at Tottenham Hotspur is it never stays dull for long.
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