This time last year, I was preparing to write an article about Tottenham’s ham-fisted transfer policy. I never got round to finishing that piece – and I’m glad I didn’t in a way. The countless star signings that could have been, the obnoxiously random and seemingly ill-revised purchases of players that seemingly had no place in the squad and the most annoying part of our old recruitment methods; the cheap replacement signings. The most obvious analogy that springs to mind is our own Daniel Levy in Marks and Spencer, twenty pounds in hand, and looking for a steak to have for dinner. He searches for a good while, and just before the shops close, he finds the perfect cut that would accompany his assortment of veg and bottle of red wine perfectly. He studies it for a second, goes to pick it up, and sees the 1price tag. Nineteen pounds, with a gasp he turns to pop into Lidl before they close and grabs the first steak he sees, safe in the knowledge he still has fifteen-pounds sitting in his wallet. The point was this, we want Musacchio, we end up with Fazio, we want Schneiderlin, end up with Stambouli. Llorente? Soldado. Moutinho? Paulinho. The list goes on, it seemed like we were happy to settle with second best, and that thinking really came back to haunt us. Most of these ‘second best’ players have thus far either been sold already, or deemed failures by the Tottenham fan base, but it was perhaps purchases like the ones made with the Gareth Bale money which sparked a new Tottenham, a more mindful and intelligent way of approaching transfers.
Who else can be credited with the influx of youth players than, well Tim Sherwood to an extent to be fair but, Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has met some criticism since his appointment last year, but it is hard to ignore the massively positive changes in and around the club after his appointment. The resurgence of young talent in a relatively lacklustre Tottenham side has reignited fan investment. The dichotomy between big-money buys that look a world away in matches and the enthusiasm from the likes of Ryan Mason, who only last season became a first-team regular for Tottenham, shows that Levy has the right idea about spending, but he didn’t have the right chef for his steak. This man is Mauricio Pochettino, and with sous chef Paul Mitchell (and perhaps Franco Baldini) he has been able to scout the right men for the job. The real difference is the meticulous nature of Pochettino’s search for quality, which is reflected in his willingness to promote from within, and his use of squad rotation in order to bring out healthy competition in the squad. Of course he still has a lot to learn as a manager, but at forty-three years old he has a long time to iron out his flaws. He hasn’t got – and won’t get – every transfer right, but the way in which his current signings and promotions have affected the team as a whole is making up for any signing that may not come good.
With one of the youngest first teams in the Premier League, and regular opportunities given to players who under other managers may never have succeeded, we have seen very promising seasons from the likes of Bentaleb, Dier, Lamela, and the new star face of Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane. With a larger transfer kitty and a lot of deadwood getting sold, Pochettino continues to make wise signings that will benefit the squad. Already bringing in three much-needed defenders, the rest of the signings will take place towards the latter end of the window. Alderweireld has a wealth of knowledge about the league and his manager’s style of play. Wimmer is a strong young player who is eager to prove himself to the manager and the team he is “proud” to play for. And Trippier, a young Englishman who will give Kyle Walker some much needed competition at right-back. All of these signings make sense and, as the last of the unwanted players exit the club, the spending is likely to continue as the mindful manager seeks out a new midfielder, winger, and a striker.
In a short space of time, Tottenham have successfully turned around what looked to be a doomed squad, hurt after losing a number of stars, and filled in with cheap alternatives to actual transfer targets. The mentality looks to be in place that will benefit Tottenham for years to come, and with a large chunk of the transfer window remaining, Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy have time to be meticulous in building a new-look Tottenham squad that can compete the way the fans know they should. For now, Spurs look to be in safe hands, and can look forward to a bright future under Mauricio Pochettino.