Fourth Place: 23 wins, 2 draws, 13 losses; 71 points
Top Goal Scorer: Harry Kane (17)
Player of the Year: Son Heung-Min
Projected Finish: Third Place
Mauricio Pochettino is considered to be one of the best up and coming managers in World Football having found great success with a Tottenham side that, since taking over, have become a serious challenger not only domestically but also in Europe. Pochettino took over at Spurs in 2014 following a brief spell a Southampton in which he took the Saints to their highest ever league finish (8th). Since joining Tottenham, they have finished in the top four in four of his five seasons in charge bringing them back to the Champions League for the first time since 2010 going as far as the final last year.
Possibly more impressive than his run of results themselves are the hurdles Pochettino has had to overcome on his way to becoming one of the best managers in England. Tottenham owner Daniel Levy holds firm beliefs in self-funding transfers through the sale of players rather than lashing out extravagant transfer fees in order to bolster the squad. Since 2013 Tottenham have brought in a reported €427 million in the transfer window which included the sale of Gareth Bale (€101 million) and Kyle Walker (€52.7 million) yet they have only spent a combined €516.5 million. Compare this to English Champions Manchester City who over the same period have spent €1.1 billion and have brought in just €313 million from players sold.
Looking at those numbers alone it seems clear that Pochettino must be doing something special to be competing in a situation like that. To find the answer one only has to look at his faith in youth and player development. Players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min have thrived under Pochettino with players such as Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Kyle Walker-Peters looking to do the same.
Considering the restraints that Daniel Levy has placed on his manager there’s arguably no other individual out there who could have done the job Pochettino has in his five years in charge. Should he go on to win Tottenham some prestigious silverware he may well go down as their best manager of the Premier League era.
This Tottenham squad have been quietly building for a few years now and with Harry Kane being backed up by Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen last season they finally looked like a side that could challenge for some trophies. Harry Kane has been one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers for going on five years with 122 goals in 167 games since 2014 (coincidentally, Pochettino’s first year in charge). Eriksen had one of his best years in a Tottenham shirt with eight goals and twelve assists to his name and Son Heung-Min, despite missing games due to his Gold-medal winning performance at the Asian games, scored twelve goals with six assists. With these three being Tottenham’s main performers much of their success came from the fact that the squad as a whole had a good season, a notable standout being Lucas Moura who scored ten goals with a single assist for the year making Tottenham one of four teams to have three or more players score ten goals in last year’s Premier League.
After going a full season in 2018/19 without buying a single player, Tottenham are now adding to their squad that came second in the Champions League last year with the purchase of 22-year-old midfielder Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon – €60 million). Not one to score many goals, Ndombele will be looked upon to create chances for the current crop of Tottenham strikers with his dribbling and passing ability making him a creative deep-lying midfielder. Tottenham fans will be biting their nails until deadline day however as the likelihood of Christen Eriksen leaving becomes more and more likely amid talks he won’t be signing a new contract, his current contract keeping him at the club for another 18 months. With Daniel Levy unlikely to let him go for free, Tottenham are looking to sell now without having to cut their asking price for the Danish playmaker.
Tottenham’s defence have been growing pretty solid for the last few years under Pochettino but the departure of Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid – £20 million) leaves a hole at right back that will likely be filled by Serge Aurier who arrived from PSG in 2017. Despite only making 17 appearances in all competitions last year, unless they look to youngster Kyle Walker-Peters or the transfer market, Aurier is the logical replacement.
If Tottenham make the most of the final days of the transfer market and bring in one more player of Ndombele’s calibre then they can potentially make the jump into Europe’s upper echelon with Liverpool and Manchester City.
It won’t take long for us to see what Tottenham are made of this year with away games at Manchester City and Arsenal inside the first four fixtures. After those two challenging games it’s fairly safe travels until they meet Liverpool in Round Ten and even if they lose all three of those, the worst of their other ten opening games will be away at Leicester which you still fancy them to win.
In the new year Tottenham face Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea within just over a one-month period and then in March they see potentially their most challenging run with games against Manchester United and Arsenal either side of West Ham, Sheffield United, Everton and Bournemouth. All in all, Tottenham have perhaps the best fixture list of the top six teams keeping in mind they will have Champions League and domestic cup games scattered in there as well. In a league where a close title race is potentially more likely than many expect, it could be this good fortune that give Tottenham the upper hand.
Tottenham have the strength of schedule this season that most of the other top six teams don’t have but Liverpool and Manchester City are still on another level. If Tottenham can spend some more money in the next few days and keep their stars, primarily one by the name of Christian Eriksen, then they may cause more headaches than expected this season. Top four and the European qualification that goes along with it should be a guarantee for the Spurs this year, especially with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United far from their world class best but it will take something special to unsettle City and Liverpool from the top two spots.
Written by Daniel Thurley