Match Preview, AEL Limassol vs Tottenham. (1st leg)

Match date & time: Thursday 21st August 2014. 5pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League – play-off stage.

Venue: Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus.

TV: Not televised in the UK.

The Europa League has come back round the corner. Last season, we made the round of 16 before meeting our match in Benfica. This season, our aim as it was last season is to win the competition, but it will be very difficult. It starts here, in the play-off round to enter the group stages. We had to get through this last year, facing Dinamo Tblisli and we got through the game with ease, and now we’ll be hoping to breeze past AEL Limassol in similar fashion. We should be taking this competition seriously, because, as Pochettino has said, it gives us another chance to secure Champions League. Even if that chance is slim, difficult and even more unrealistic than getting top 4, it’s a chance and given a good draw and luck goes our way, who knows; we have the squad to do well, that is for sure.

AEL Limassol were champions of the Cypriot division 1 in the 2013/14 season, winning 19, drawing 5 and losing just 2. This got them into the Champions League third qualifying round, where they met a strong Zenit St. Petersburg side, managed by our former head coach Andre Villas Boas. In the first leg, at home, they beat AVB’s side 1-0, a massive win for their club and City, but in the second leg away from home they couldn’t finish the job as Zenit ran away 3-0 victors. This should show us that this could be a really tough test that if we underestimate them, we could get stung by an obviously ‘plucky’ AEL Limassol team who will no doubt be pumped up for the game.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue, Younes Kaboul, Michel Vorm and Etienne Capoue have been left in London for the first leg, while Vlad Chiriches (back) and Kyle Walker (pelvis) are still suffering from their injuries. Good news is that Jan Vertonghen, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele are back in contention for the game after returning from the World Cup, so we’re hoping that they get a run out and then be ready for the game against QPR in the Premier League on Sunday after missing the West Ham game. Youngsters Milos Veljkovic and Luke McGee (GK) have also traveled with the squad along with Tom Carroll. It’s a very strong squad and we’ll be looking to take a strong lead into the second leg at White Hart Lane, but if we slip up, we will still be confident of breezing past them at the Lane into the group stages.

It’s important that our World Cup players get minutes, and I’m specifically looking forward to seeing Jan Vertonghen return to the field after an impressive World Cup display. He has the talent, after a disappointing 2013/14 season, to become our key defender and really take this season by storm as he did in his 2012/13 debut season, when he made the Premier League team of the year, it’s key that he regains that form as we will rely on him this season. Three players returning from the World Cup Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli have a lot to prove this season, but I do believe they have the quality to show why we bought them in the first place, especially Mousa Dembele who I think has incredible ability, but he needs to find form and fitness again and come back with the form he had in his first season and in his Fulham days, this starts against AEL Limassol. Lewis Holtby is another I think is important for the game, he can provide the spark along with Erik Lamela in the absence of Christian Eriksen, with Harry Kane providing goals without Emmanuel Adebayor present.

We’ve got a tough game on our hands, with what is expected to be a hostile atmosphere and a dodgy pitch. We have to be professional, as always, and look to get a good result to bring back to North London. The game isn’t televised in the UK but I’m sure a stream will become available. Make sure to follow my twitter account @AddictedToSpurs for match & goal updates, photos and videos for the game. COYS!!

My predicted team to face AEL Limassol in Larnaca:
4-2-3-1
Friedel
Naughton – Dier – Vertonghen – Davies
Paulinho – Carroll
Townsend – Holtby – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference:

Match Review, West Ham vs Tottenham.

Match: Saturday 16th August 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Upton Park.

Result: West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Tottenham GoalScorer: Eric Dier 93′.

Sending off West Ham: James Collins 63′.

Sending off Tottenham: Kyle Naughton 29′.

We’ve got our first win on the board and did it in typical Tottenham fashion. Keeping you on the edge of your seat 24/7 and giving you absolutely no inkling into what is going to happen. In Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge, to get the win is the main thing, how we played is not what we need to focus on. With this win so much pressure has been lifted off Pochettino’s shoulders, off our shoulders and the player’s shoulders. 1 game, 1 win. That’s all that is important.

In the first half, we started well, put some good passes together and looked slightly threatening, but quite jittery at the back. West Ham were doing well to cull our attacks, and offensively themselves, they did well to put us under pressure. They then bombarded us for 10 odd minutes, corners, free kicks and everything inbetween and got their reward with a penalty, Kyle Naughton handling the ball in the area and then receiving a red card, which was very harsh. A penalty? Yes. A red card? Not a chance. Mark Noble stepped up, famous for his clinical nature from penalties, but dragged it wide to all of Tottenham’s relief. We dragged ourselves through to half time. They had chances, went close, but it was 0-0 at the break and we were grateful for that.

In the second half, we were better. On the ball, much more sharp and organised after a talking to from Mauricio Pochettino. The introduction of Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby gave us much more impetus and attacking threat, in particularly Andros Townsend who was providing crosses and shots that were testing the West Ham defence. We worked the ball much more in the final third but were still restricted to longer range shots. Frustrating. The momentum turned in our favour and with that, on the 63rd minute, James Collins of West Ham got his second booming of the day and was sent down the tunnel. 10 vs 10. 30 minutes to go. It was in our hands to win. We continued to push. In particular with Townsend and now Harry Kane. We continued to push, but West Ham were still getting chances. In the 88th minute they had a big chance, Hugo Lloris spectacularly stopping Stewart Downing’s effort. As good as a goal from Hugo. Then, after our endeavour, we finally broke the deadlock. In the 93rd minute Harry Kane released Eric Dier, who broke the offside trap, rounded the goalkeeper and finished with ease to give Tottenham victory. Fantastic. IMG_1110.JPG
Eric Dier, on his Premier League debut, in a London derby, played a very, very good game. Defensively he was solid, on the ball he was composed and then at the end he scored the winning goal. He worked so hard for the team, filled in at right back when we needed it, at centre back and then up front! Man of the match without doubt. Hugo Lloris was also fantastic; he’s World Class and he showed again why he wins us at least 10-15 points a season, maybe even more. As a collective the performance wasn’t amazing, we can admit that. West Ham probably deserved more from the game but football is a cruel game and after a red card that shouldn’t have been, maybe Karma was on our side. A brilliant three points to kick-start our season.

What a three points! A last minute winner against West Ham is always really nice, especially on the first day of the season and Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. It’s important we push on after this win and now try to improve ourselves in the way we play, defensively and offensively. Next up, Europa League play-off action as we travel to Cyprus to face AEL Limassol at the Antonis Stadium on Thursday 21st August. We return to Premier League action against QPR, our first Home game of the season on Sunday 24th August. Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all… COYS!!

Player ratings for the team that faced West Ham at Upton Park:
Lloris: 8.5.
Naughton – 3.
Dier – 9 – Man of the Match.
Kaboul – 4.
Rose – 6.
Capoue – 5.
Bentaleb – 7.
Lennon – 5.
Eriksen – 6.5
Lamela – 5.
Adebayor – 5.

Subs:
Townsend – 8.
Holtby – 6.
Kane – 7.

Mauricio Pochettino post match press conference:

Mauricio Pochettino post match reaction:

Eric Dier post match reaction:

Match Preview, West Ham vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Saturday 16th August 2014. Kick off at 3pm GMT.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Upton Park.

TV: Not televised in the UK.

The Premier League season is upon us. A new manager for a new season and it feels as if a new era is coming to White Hart Lane, hopefully, full of success. The summer has been very exciting. A brilliant World Cup, loads of transfer rumours and deals being completed. It’s made the wait for the Premier League to return much quicker. That’s for sure. Last season, we were left disappointed and frustrated by a 6th place finish with a lot of change; managerially and with the players. Now it’s a bit more settled, we’ve made a few additions and had a few players go out, but we’ve a balanced and healthy squad. Now, we have to push on and be much more successful not just with League position and trophies, but with the way we play. We need to show flair, excitement and play the old fashioned ‘Tottenham way’. Mauricio Pochettino can bring us what we have been yearning for since Harry Redknapp left us, as well as success in the League. This all starts at Upton Park.

Our recent history against West Ham is not something I like to recall too often; normally it’s just shoved down my throat and I’m forced with the realisation that we actually lost three times to them. Farcical. A 3-0 loss under Andre Villas-Boas, and then a 2-1 and 2-0 loss under Tim Sherwood. Now, we hope for a different fate under Mauricio Pochettino. A difficult first game for him but one we can win. It’s important we ‘shake the curse’ of West Ham before it actually becomes a curse. West Ham have bought some good players this summer, and I think are stronger than last season with squad depth, but we are going to have to wait and see how their new signings adapt to the Premier League, and they’ll be thrown in the deep end with a massive London derby that means a hell of a lot to both club’s fans. Kouyate, Zarate and Enner Valencia are good players that add a bit of core strength to the squad.

The team news for West Ham coming into the game is that Andy Carroll (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (hamstring) and Ravel Morrison (match fitness) won’t feature for West Ham, with late decisions on how ready new arrival Enner Valencia and after coming back from injury, Guy Demel. Another new signing Aaron Cresswell is a slight doubt after being replaced through injury in a pre-season game against Sampdoria, but is expected to be fine. I think the problem West Ham have is upfront, with Andy Carroll injured long term, and Enner Valencia a doubt to start the game at least, they’d be left with Carlton Cole and Mauro Zarate, and that’s not exactly frightening if we’re defensively solid. Although now I’ve said that, expect them to score three hat-tricks each. One player who I think could be really important for West Ham is Kouyate, strong in the middle of the park and fairly comfortable on the ball, he’s a good player who will add solidity to their team and squad. Offensively, I believe if Valencia is passed fit to play, he’s a real threat in front of goal, as we saw in the World Cup, so we’d need to be ready for that.

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The team news for Tottenham is that our World Cup players are in contention to play at Upton Park. Hugo Lloris and Nabil Bentaleb are available to the squad, while Jan Vertonghen, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli are doubts but could still make the squad. Other doubts include Vlad Chiriches (back), Michael Dawson (ankle) and Kyle Walker (pelvis). Michel Vorm (match fitness) won’t feature after Pochettino revealed he’s on a ‘special plan’ after arriving late to the squad. Quite a few concerns there, but if we can get 3 of 4 of the doubts fit then we will go to Upton Park with a really strong squad.

Erik Lamela. An injury blighted first season. A fantastic pre-season. Now it’s time for him to push on and show his worth. He has undoubted talent, his ability on the ball, to find the final pass and to score the crucial goal. He’s got that in him and I’m predicting him to show it against West Ham, it’s very important that he does. Another player who will be very important against West Ham is Christian Eriksen; he had an incredible first season but now he can push on even further, with a, fingers crossed, injury free season with the experience of having a Premier League season under his belt. Eriksen is phenomenal, there’s no two ways about it. A big decision for Pochettino is who to start up-front; with three good options, Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado, there are arguments for all three to start, but only one can, and I’d make it Emmanuel Adebayor. The most experienced of the three and our top scorer last season, for me it’s his position to lose and if he does fall off he’ll have Kane and Soldado scrapping for his place, which is good competition. In defence, assuming Jan Vertonghen doesn’t make the game, I’d stick with Younes Kaboul and give a debut to Eric Dier, who was so impressive in the game against Schalke, both centre backs played well together and if they can build that understanding more in training and in a game scenario, it can be very good for the team.

Match stats and facts provided by Opta:

- West Ham United won both clashes with Tottenham Hotspur last season in the Barclays Premier League.

- Spurs have won just four of their last 16 opening weekend fixtures in the Premier League (D4 L8).

- In fact, the Hammers beat Spurs three times in all competitions last seasons, winning the Capital One Cup Quarter Final.

- These two sides faced each other on the opening day of the 1999/2000 season. Harry Redknapp’s West Ham won 1-0 at Upton Park.

- This game will be Sam Allardyce’s 400th as a Premier League manager.

- West Ham posted the worst shooting accuracy in the 2013-14 Premier League, hitting the target with just 37% of their attempts on goal.

- West Ham signing Enner Valencia scored three goals from five shots on target at the 2014 World Cup.

- Tottenham won 10 Premier League away games in 2013-14, only one team (Arsenal, 11) had recorded more (four other teams won 10).

- West Ham’s last three Premier League goals have come against London sides.

- Tottenham scored only nine goals in 10 Premier League London derbies in 2013-14.

It’s a massive game. A difficult one and a testing one for Mauricio Pochettino. We have to play a positive game, find holes in the West Ham team and just all-in-all play our football. I’m really looking forward to it all kicking off. The game isn’t televised, but I’ll be sure to provide a stream, as well as goal updates, videos and photos all on my twitter account @AddictedToSpurs, so follow me there! I’ll be doing all the previews and reviews this season. Let’s have a fantastic one. Starting at Upton Park. COYS!!

My predicted team to face West Ham at Upton Park:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Naughton – Kaboul – Dier – Rose
Capoue – Holtby
Lennon – Lamela – Eriksen (free roles)
Adebayor.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre West Ham press conference:

Tottenham Hotspur 2014/15 Season Preview.

The new season is upon us. We’ve had an action packed summer, with the World Cup, pre-season tours and transfer rumours/deals. So it’s made the wait for the new season to start a little more bearable. We’ve got a new Head Coach for the new season, and hopefully it’s the start of a new, successful era under Mauricio Pochettino. In this article I’m going to share my general expectations for the season in the Premier League, FA & League Cup, as well as the Europa League. Also, I’ll be looking at the players I think will be key to success this season, player awards and my season conclusions:

Premier League:
For many years our goal in the Premier League has been the same; break into the top four and secure Champions League football. And this season, the hope and urge that we will, continues to burn brightly in the hearts of Tottenham fans. Having those glory glory nights back at White Hart Lane, and then eventually the new stadium. It’s a dream. This season, with Pochettino being appointed, I think most fans for this season just want improvement, in the style of football we play, and the results we get. If we can get both of those things then I think the season will have been a success and a stepping stone to better things. Daniel Levy seems to, according to Mauricio Pochettino himself, not set any targets for this season and that for me is such a sigh of relief. We need to give Pochettino time to make this squad his own and this takes at least a season. What I want is to enjoy watching Tottenham again, with free flowing, fast paced football on the agenda and always being a threat to the big teams on the pitch, not just rolling over and letting them trounce us. Despite what anyone will say, it is a season of transition for Tottenham and us fans need to be patient and stay fully behind the team and the manager.

Getting in the top 4 is very difficult this season. A lot of the top teams in the top 4, and just outside it have strengthened a lot while keeping a stable core of their team. It’s very hard to see where we fit in to that elite group, so in all honesty I think it would either take one team having a season like Manchester United last season, or Tottenham having a miracle season. Both are difficult to see. For this season, I’d be content with 5th, which is an improvement on last season’s 6th place finish. But, I’d want us to compete further in the cups, and if the draws are kind, go on and win one. I am confident we will be competing for the top 4 spaces, we have a good squad with a great manager who is known for getting the best out of his players, and I think back to last season when we got these players and people believed it was a squad that could compete. If we can get the players back to the level they were when they arrived, who knows what could happen.

Prediction: 5th place.

FA Cup and Capital One Cup:
To win one of these competitions you need two things; a good team, and loads of luck. It’s all about the draw you get. Whether against a big team or little, at home or away and praying you don’t get the game just before a big Premier League game. It’s difficult to see Tottenham being fully focused on winning one of these trophies, even though I’d sacrifice any top 4 space offered to me for a glory day at Wembley. We have a lot of focus on the Premier League, where ultimately your season is judged on, plus the commitments of the Europa League, which now offers the winner Champions League football, so I think the priority of these Cups is down the pecking order, although I would still love to go for one. It’s always nice playing teams away from the Premier League, striving to get into the next round. Something very special about it, but if I had to chose a trophy to focus on it wouldn’t be the FA Cup or Capital One Cup, it would be the Europa League.

Prediction – FA Cup: 4th Round.

Prediction – Capital One Cup: Quarter Finals.

Europa League:
This competition always splits opinion. Some say all it does is distract from the Premier League, offering up games on the far side of the earth until the teams from the Champions League come in and knock you out, others say it’s a real opportunity for European Glory, something that Tottenham should always strive towards having won the competition twice. We have to learn to deal with playing in the Europa League, in my opinion, if we ever want to compete in the Champions League and Premier League simultaneously, which is the long term goal. Last season we made the round of 16, Benfica getting the better of us, but this season I want us to do better. Show Champions League credentials by taking it by storm. Starting with AEL Limassol in Cyprus. There’s nothing better than a European Glory night at White Hart Lane. If that means the Europa League then I’m all for it. Mauricio Pochettino has said in the past he doesn’t like the Europa League, but has recently admitted that the option for the winners getting Champions League at the end makes the competition more appealing, so I do sincerely hope we take it seriously.

Prediction: Quarter Finals, but I’d love to think we’d go all the way.

Key Players for the 2014/15 season:
We have a lot of great players who will definitely be very important for our 2014/15 campaign, but there are a bunch that stick out as being extra special and the players I’m predicting to have a big season:

Christian Eriksen – Our player of the season for the 2013/14, expectations are high for his performances but I think he will just continue to improve and improve. At only 22 he still has a lot to learn, but he’s on the right path to be considered a World Class player, even if people would argue he’s at that level right now. It’s a pleasure to have him at Tottenham and I’m predicting him to have another massive season, getting into double figures for goals scored and assists made.

Erik Lamela – A difficult season last campaign, but he looked reinvigorated in pre-season, and after a long term injury, he’s back and looking sharp. He has undoubted quality, can play in any position across the three behind the striker. Left wing, central attacking midfield and right wing. He is creative, skilful and in my head is a traditional Tottenham player. As Bill Nicholson once said, “Finding, making and using space is a distinction of all great players” that is what I think Lamela can do for us this season.

Emmanuel Adebayor – Our top scorer last season, playing just half a season under Tim Sherwood. He’s our main man up front and we need him to be on form this season. If he can continue his form that he showed last season we don’t need a new striker as I think he can be classed as a top class striker. Hold up play, link up play and the finish on the end of it. I’m predicting Emmanuel to have a really good season and I think he’s a dark horse for Premier League top scorer, if he can stay fit and on form.

Jan Vertonghen – Jan didn’t have the best of seasons last year, inconsistent, injuries and didn’t repeat the quality he showed when he first joined the club. Now though, with a new season on the horizon and a new challenge, I think Jan will play a major role in any success we have this season from centre back. He can focus on being our main centre back, as we have a lot of back up at left back now, so I think he’ll show his quality once again that once got him mentioned as our new Ledley King. I hope he can rediscover that.

Other players that will be key are of course Hugo Lloris and Kyle Walker, they bring great quality to the team. There could be a few surprise packages, too; if Roberto Soldado can find his form in front of goal he could be the difference for us, if Emmanuel Adebayor goes off to the African Cup of Nations and Lewis Holtby, who was on loan at Fulham last season; I think he can break into the first team this season and Etienne Capoue, who had a great pre-season is another that I think can become a really big player; composed on the ball and solid in his defensive duty. Others include a few younger players, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane could all be really important players for us this season.

Player awards predictions:

Player of the season – Christian Eriksen.

Young player of the season – Erik Lamela.

Top scorer – Emmanuel Adebayor.

Most assists – Christian Eriksen.

Conclusions:
I’m excited. I always am for a new season. Surely we will have a better season than the last. I’m hoping for progression, but also to enjoy watching Tottenham again. One or two decent Cup runs and 5th in the League. That is what I think ‘success’ would look like for Tottenham. A season full of excitement, thrills and as little spills as possible. I believe in the quality of the squad. We have a lot of depth and good players, so despite it being a sort of transition period, I think Spurs can make this season memorable.

It all kicks off on Saturday, 16th August at 3pm. West Ham await at Upton Park. Let’s get this one out of the way with three points and then push on. Let the madness commence… COYS!!

What are your hopes and aspirations for the new season? Comment below!

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2014 Tottenham Hotspur Pre-Season Review.

Pre-Season is over, and now the real business gets underway, starting with West Ham on Saturday, but I want to have a look back at what we saw in pre-season – the players that impressed, goals scored, the results we got and the performances we put in:

Tottenham 3-3 Seattle – Game 1 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our first game of pre-season on July 19th was new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. What we instantly saw from the team was a new way of playing, focusing on possession, pressing football with attacking flair and lots of energy. It was a very early stage of getting to grips with Pochettino’s ideas and strict fitness regime. We played well, passed the ball as well as we could on a difficult artificial surface and created a nice goal for Lewis Holtby to make it 1-0 early on, Harry Kane with a fantastic assist. Seattle then scored a penalty and a terrific goal that no goalkeeper could have saved to put them 2-1 up, probably against the run of play. We levelled with Roberto Soldado from the spot, who did extremely well in the build up to get the foul. Sloppy defending from Younes Kaboul led to Seattle taking the lead 3-2, but we levelled again late on from an Iago Falque penalty. A good run out but nothing spectacular. Lewis Holtby without a doubt man of the match, but Cristian Ceballos and Etienne Capoue also impressed.

Tottenham 3-2 Toronto – Game 2 of the USA & Canada tour.
In our second pre-season game, against a fairly strong Toronto side, we game out on top, Erik Lamela opened his pre-season account with 2 goals in a first half in which we played really good, fast paced football with a purpose. Two very well taken goals that will only help Lamela’s confidence for the new season. In the second half, we were much more sloppy, especially at the back, but I think this was down to many changes made at the break to give players some game time, Toronto pulled it back to 2-2, but in the 85th minute Andros Townsend secured our first win of pre-season with a sweet right footed strike. A game of two halfs, but I think we played well on the whole and slightly improved from the Seattle game which is always important. Erik Lamela bagged that man of the match award for me for his two goals and impressive game all-round. Another impressive game for Etienne Capoue too, I thought.

Tottenham 2-0 Chicago Fire – Game 3 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our final game of the tour in America and Canada ended with a win, in comfortable fashion. We were never troubled by Chicago and played some great football ourselves although weren’t as clinical as we’d shown in the games against Toronto or Seattle. Defensively we were much more together, though and we still passed the ball nicely and found openings. Harry Kane opened the scoring after great work from Lewis Holtby, who was everywhere in this game, he played it across for Kane and he made no mistake to make it 1-0. A very quiet 80 minutes past before we scored a fantastic second goal in the 85th minute, wonderful build up play from Roberto Soldado released Aaron Lennon, who showed his pace to go past the Chicago defence and then the goalkeeper before slotting home. A welcomed clean sheet was nice after some shaky defending and another sign that we were learning from mistakes and rectifying them and trying to improve. Lewis Holtby was man of the match once again for me, but Erik Lamela was also very impressive and probably could have had a few goals himself.

Tottenham 6-1 Celtic.
An odd pre-season game, with Tottenham looking for a stern challenge from the Scottish champions, but Celtic much more focused on their Champions League dreams that were at the time in a dire state. Only 1-2 first teamers travelled with their team, and not even their manager turned up for the game in Finland, but it was another 90 minutes to make us sharper and more confident. 6 goals scored, whether against Real Madrid or Burton Albion is never a bad thing, and as all 6 goals were scored by different personnel it shows how much firepower we can have with all guns blazing. Harry Kane, Roberto Soldado, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor from the spot scored the goals. We played well, especially Etienne Capoue for me, and once again Lewis Holtby who has had a fantastic pre-season.

Tottenham 2-1 Schalke.
Our toughest test of pre-season and a good win. Schalke are a decent team who bring physicality as well as creativity in attack. Although they didn’t have some of their best players, most notably Draxler, they were a good test to have in our final game in front of the home crowd. The first half we played some great stuff with Danny Rose our best player on the left hand side giving us an outlet of pace and width that I think we lack a bit when playing Lamela, Eriksen and Lennon, all roaming around centrally. Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring for us from a Lewis Holtby assist, playing against his former club. We moved the ball well, showed good, one touch football with a lot of pressure on the opposition when not on the ball. We should have scored a lot more goals than we did, that was my only disappointment. We worked hard and another 90 minutes of competitive football will help our cause. Roberto Soldado got our second goal, after Andros Townsend’s shot was parried he chipped the keeper with a header. A good finish and it can only help his confidence. To concede was disappointing, as it always is, but we got a result and a good run out, which is important in our last game ahead of the new season. New signing Eric Dier was my man of the match for this game, but I was also impressed by Danny Rose and once again Lewis Holtby.

Top five performers:

1 – Lewis Holtby. A fantastic work-rate and his creativity seems to have improved from past seasons. An end product to his game and I think one who should be in the 11 to face West Ham. In this pre-season he was our outstanding performer for sure, goals and assists. Contributing in every game.

2 – Etienne Capoue. After an injury struck season in 2013/14, a good pre-season was a must for Etienne and he duly delivered. Very comfortable on the ball and showed some of the form we saw early last season. If fully fit, I’d start him against West Ham.

3 – Erik Lamela. Like a new player this pre-season. Now hoping for him to push on and show his talent where it matters. Not afraid to run at the opposition and while rotating from right wing, central attacking and left wing, he showed versatility as well. Going to be a big player for us this season I think.

4 – Danny Rose. Possibly a surprise for some to read he’s been one of our best players this pre-season, but he definitely has in my eyes. The addition of Ben Davies has seemingly given him a spark to prove himself, and it’s showing to be great having competition for that left back slot now. If Danny can improve his final ball and concentration this season while keeping fit, there is no reason why he can’t hold down a starting position, even ahead of Ben Davies.

5 – Harry Kane. I thought Harry played really well this pre-season, he worked hard and showed how much his finishing has improved in the last season and a bit. He’s established himself as a first team player, whether on the bench or starting. He does a job and when he gets opportunities in front of goal he has looked good. To pick him in the top 5 players was a tough decision, as other performers such as Roberto Soldado, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend have impressed me in these friendlies. It’s a big season for Harry and I hope he can continue to prove that he has a big future at Tottenham, at just 21 years old.

Pre-Season conclusions:

Being undefeated in pre-season can only be a positive, we had some brilliant displays, we scored goals, we showed our much more attacking and exciting style of football and it’s given Mauricio Pochettino a good start and implemented some positivity into the Tottenham fans, which is undoubtedly a good thing. One thing I can see as another big positive is that I can’t pick out a player who I think has been poor in pre-season. All have been at par or above and this gives me a lot of hope leading into the new season that Pochettino is the man to get the best out of our deep, quality squad. Of course, it is only pre-season, and it does not compare to the pace, intensity and difficulty of the Premier League, but it can give us an indicator for how Pochettino will line up.

With the World Cup this summer, it has disrupted the pre-season of some of our biggest stars, but this is the same for all the big teams. Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Michel Vorm no minutes of game time to their belt, which is slightly worrying, along with Vlad Chiriches who was seemingly injured for the whole pre-season, but Nabil Bentaleb and Hugo Lloris were able to get in the team and up their fitness levels which is a very good thing. Both Hugo and Nabil are going to be big players this season for us, I think. I’m sure despite not playing much football, most of the magic happens on the training pitch, getting fit and learning what Mauricio Pochettino wants from them this season.

Our style of play has improved dramatically from last season and we’ve only had a few months under the guidance of Pochettino. Hopefully we continue to improve and show more attacking flair once more top players come into the frame and possibly new signings in the last few weeks of the window. It’s been a good pre-season results wise but I was more impressed with how the players went about their business and tried to show their worth to Pochettino. Now, we have to go to Upton Park for our biggest game in a long time. A good start to the season is crucial and especially against a team that beat us three times last season. Let’s hope for the best. COYS!!

Thanks for reading! What did you think of our pre-season performances? Comment below!

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Welcome to Tottenham Hotspur, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm!

Tottenham have completed the signing of Welsh left back Ben Davies and Dutch keeper Michel Vorm from Swansea in a deal rumoured to be worth around £15 million with Gylfi Sigurdsson going the other way to Swansea for £10 million in virtually a swap deal for Davies. A deal that suits Tottenham, and I’m sure Swansea will benefit from too. Sigurdsson is a fantastic player and being the key man in Swansea’s midfield will definitely make him show his undoubted quality but he doesn’t fit in at Spurs, with too many players in his position, and he’s too good for our bench, so a move is best, but Tottenham get in return a player who will fill our left back slot for years to come, in a position we desperately needed to fill and a keeper that can be a like-for-like back up to Hugo Lloris. We’re signing Davies not only for his previous performances, but also for what those performances have shown he can do in the future. It’s filled a weakness that’s been quickly spotted by Pochettino and his coaching staff. We’ve been waiting quite a while for our first piece of business in the transfer window, but it’s apparent that Pochettino believes in the squad we have and only wants to tinker in key areas, something we expected after last summer’s spending and the 7 signings we made that haven’t all clicked into place just yet, but that’s what Pochettino was hired to do. Make those players into what we believed they would be when they were first signed. Now, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have been added to the ranks and I think it’s a good news for Tottenham.

Ben Davies is 21 and already has two full Premier League seasons to his name with Swansea, also having 7 games in the Europa League with appearances against Napoli on the résumé, so he’s a very experienced player for someone so young. He made 85 appearances for Swansea in all competitions with a League Cup trophy to his name. He came through the ranks at the Welsh club, getting the chance to play because of an injury to first choice left back Neil Taylor, and he grabbed it with both hands and within a season was definite first choice after a great season under Michael Laudrup. The second season Swansea struggled because of Europa League commitments, but the experience of trying to juggle both will surely only help Ben Davies now that he’s at Spurs. Davies’ performances have earned him a place in the Welsh national squad, too, having 10 appearances to his name and of course that will only increase with time. It’s been a pretty amazing 2 seasons for Ben Davies, and now securing this deal to Tottenham is the next step and hopefully, it’ll be even more successful than his Swansea time, in trophies and performances.

At 21 years of age, Davies is a raw talent, he will learn with experience, but the fact he has only made 2 defensive errors in two full Premier League seasons, compared to Danny Rose’s 3 defensive errors last season alone shows what a cool head is on Ben’s shoulders. Davies is a very competent left back, he does his job well, isn’t rash, doesn’t make many mistakes and is composed on the ball with an 84% passing accuracy last season. Consistency is his game, he’s a 7/10 or more week-in-week-out, composed, technically and tactically astute, finding his left winger and his strikers, or his central midfielders who can do more damage than him in the opposition half.

But offensively, Davies created 31 chances last season from the left back slot, that’s compared with Aaron Lennon last season who created just 4 more chances from a much more advanced role at right wing, so you can see he is able to provide good chances for our more attacking players. Obviously there are a lot of things he needs to learn, but he will be nurtured by Pochettino, who has seen the potential in him through signing him it seems. Signing Davies solves a problem that we’ve had since Benoit Assou-Ekotto got injured and never returned to the level that he once had, we’ve tried Jan Vertonghen there, Danny Rose has had a season at left back after a successful season at Sunderland, but he’s failed to nail down his place with Davies seemingly replacing him now. At 21 years old Ben Davies can become our left back for many years to come, and hopefully he can be even more successful than our last Welsh left back, Gareth Bale.

Michel Vorm’s signing was rumoured to be worth £3.5 million – £5 million, another Swansea player. The goalkeeper is 30 years old has vast experience in the Premier League for Swansea and has a decent amount of appearances for his native country Holland, as well as in the World Cup this summer, even if it was only for 5 minutes. At a cut price deal, this is without a doubt a good signing, as a back up to our number 1 without question Hugo Lloris. A strange transfer in many ways, as Michel could easily be number one for another team in the Premier League, but he has chosen Tottenham and wants to fight, playing in cup competitions and if, God forbid, Hugo Lloris sustains an injury. He’s a much more like-for-like swap for Hugo, quick off his line, very assured on the ball, and very agile in the save and around his area, which gives me much more confidence with him in goal, with the high line we play than with Brad Friedel, a model professional, and for sure still a top goalkeeper even at his ripe old age of 43, but he doesn’t fill me with confidence when Hugo doesn’t feature, and now we can allow Friedel to become more of a coach and use his vast experience to help Hugo, Vorm and the younger ‘keepers develop even further. With Lloris, Vorm and Friedel, we without a doubt have one of the top set of keepers in the League.

The signing of Ben Davies and Michel Vorm kicks off this summer’ business for Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini and Mauricio Pochettino to create a team ready to compete. I think the signing of Davies and Vorm shows the direction we are taking in this window, signing players who have experience in the Premier League and in Europe, so they can fit straight in without the period of getting used to the League like last season, but now we can link this Premier League experience with quality who have now had a season in the Premier League and know what to expect. It’s going to be an interesting transfer window, but we’ve kicked off our Summer signing plugging a big hole and signing a good back up keeper. Now let’s get the rest of our business sorted early, so more can bed in and we can hit the ground running for the new season. COYS!!

What do you think of our new signings? Comment below!

Welcome to Spurs, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm!

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Tottenham Hotspur players at the 2014 Brazil World Cup – Review.

After a disappointing club season for Tottenham, the World Cup has certainly taken that off the minds of the fans, as well as the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino and the positive direction the club is seemingly taking. This World Cup has been superb, the best that I can remember, twists, turns and everything in-between, goals, mistakes, saves, assists. Everything; really sublime. For Tottenham Hotspur players representing the club on the biggest stage in sport, it was a mixed bag. 7 players of varying ability travelled to Brazil, none going all the way to the final, but there were some good performances which is positive, but there were also some incredibly disappointing displays. Here, I will review the performances of our seven representatives…

Paulinho – Brazil – Semi Finals. – Paulinho made 6 appearances for Brazil in the World Cup out of their 7 games, once from the bench. He failed to score or assist a goal in those games. Any way you try to sugar coat it, Paulinho had a very poor World Cup with Brazil. He was unable to make an impact in an uninspiring Brazilian team, who despite making the semi finals, have been dubbed the worst Brazilian team in memory. Sluggish, tired and average is the way Paulinho looked, after a disappointing season for Tottenham he didn’t improve and if anything got worse. He needs a break after 2 years of constant football, and hopefully he can come back in a fairly refreshed way. But, the worry is that his confidence will yet again be knocked by this poor Brazilian display, especially in the now infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany. I still have confidence that Paulinho can find form in a Tottenham shirt, after quite a few glimpses of his quality. It’s in there, I hope.

Paulinho rating – 4.5/10.

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Nabil Bentaleb – Algeria – Round of 16. - Bentaleb appeared in all of Algeria’s group games, but a slight injury deprived him of a game in the round of 16 against Germany, but in those three games against Belgium, Russia and South Korea he started and played 90 minutes, and played very well for a 19 year old, looking really competent in the midfield. After starting the last season in the reserves, he got his chance in the second half of the season and became an ever present, really impressing most of the fan base, and at just 19 years old I believe he has an extremely promising future both at Tottenham and with Algeria. Algeria created history at he World Cup in Brazil, and Nabil Bentaleb will always be remembered for his participation. I truly believe a star has been born at this World Cup. Lots of hard work, a good pre season and I think Bentaleb can continue to be a big part of our season and first team. Hopefully Pochettino can hone in on his potential and develop him further.

Bentaleb rating – 6.5/10.

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Benoit Assou-Ekotto – Cameroon – Group Stage. - Assou-Ekotto played twice for Cameroon in their 3 games, and it was a tournament to forget for both Cameroon and Benoit. No assists and no goals contributed from Assou-Ekotto. Assou played a solid game in the first fixture against Mexico, losing narrowly 1-0, but losing 4-0 to Croatia in the next game was terrible and Assou-Ekotto performed equally as bad, and to top it off at the end being involved in head butting his team mate, which then succumbed him to the bench in the final loss against Brazil. Benoit in my view was guilty of poor positioning, being mentally fragile and acting like he was too good for his team, when they needed big performances most. It’s difficult to see how Benoit Assou-Ekotto can return to Tottenham and not be transfer listed.

Assou-Ekotto rating – 3/10.

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Hugo Lloris – France – Quarter Finals. - Hugo Lloris started and captained all of France’s 5 games in this World Cup, getting 3 clean sheets in a decent campaign for the French national side. Throughout the games Lloris played really well, not tested too much, but when he was he was up to anything thrown at him. It was the usual Hugo Lloris we see week-in-week-out at the Lane, commanding in the box, a sublime shot stopper, quick off of his line and a leader on the pitch. Sadly Germany were an obstacle too far for a young French side, but in my eyes they are now the favourites to win Euro 2016 in France. A new 5 year contract at the end of the World Cup for Hugo was another cracking decision! Lloris is World Class and without a doubt one of the best goalkeepers in World Football.

Lloris rating – 8/10.

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Mousa Dembele – Belgium – Quarter Finals. - Mousa Dembele only made 2 appearances for Belgium in their 5 World Cup games not being able to score or assist. In the 2 games he didn’t show his best form, some saying that’s down to long term injuries still bugging the player. I’m sure Dembele would have wanted more from his World Cup, as would the Belgian fans. In the 90 minutes he played against South Korea, I think he put in a decent performance, showing glimpses of his ability on the ball to glide past players and get the play moving, but he didn’t set the World alight. Hopefully a short break can help Dembele return to the form that we know he’s capable of, because he hasn’t reached that for quite a while.

Dembele rating – 4/10.

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Nacer Chadli – Belgium – Quarter Finals. - Nacer Chadli’s World Cup was similar to Mousa Dembele’s. Chadli featured in 4 of Belgium’s five World Cup games, but only started once, again failing to score or assist. In the 3 other appearances were very late substitute displays, to give Belgium hight and a target up front. In the time Nacer did play, he wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good either. He made some good runs, found some good passes, but was unable to impact on the game as I’m sure he would have liked to. The criticism of Chadli is harsh in some cases, as I think he always gives his all for the team, doing the job he’s instructed to do, but I think it’s when he’s given the licence to attack he shows his best form, and in this World Cup he wasn’t given that opportunity, but that was probably down to the fact better players were ahead of him in the pecking order. Disappointing overall, but not given a massive chance.

Chadli rating – 3.5/10.

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Jan Vertonghen – Belgium – Quarter Finals. - Jan Vertonghen featured in all of Belgium’s five games starting 4 and coming on as an early substitute in the other. Jan was the scorer of the only Tottenham World Cup goal, but didn’t get an assist. In my view, Vertonghen was the best Tottenham performer of the World Cup, and certainly put in the performance of the World Cup for Spurs against the USA, where he was absolutely sublime at left back. He showed composure in defence, but also was very handy when in attack, putting a lot of great crosses into the box all tournament and of course getting the winning goal against South Korea. After a difficult season for Jan at Spurs, he put that to the darkest and deepest place in his mind and performed to the level we know he can, which fills me with a lot of excitement for how he can play when he returns to Tottenham for the new season, under a manager that can motivate him. The World Cup will enrich Vertonghen’s game with experience and hopefully give him the motivation and confidence for the new season. A good World Cup display from Jan!

Vertonghen rating – 8.5/10.

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What a World Cup it was. Unfortunately, no Spurs player got the pleasure of playing in the final, or winning the remarkable trophy, but I’m sure the experience of Brazil will stay with them forever. It’s a sad thing that it has finished, but I’m so happy that I got to witness the greatest show on earth in a country that lives and breathes football. Germany were deserved winners in the end, but nearly every team contributed in some way to the excitement of the tournament. From a Tottenham aspect, I hope the experience of being involved in the biggest footballing occasion there is will push them on to better themselves at club level, especially 19 year old Nabil Bentaleb. The new season can’t come soon enough. New manager, new season, new era. Let the adventure begin. COYS!

Tottenham at the World Cup – ratings:
1st) Vertonghen 8.5.
2nd) Lloris 8.
3rd) Bentaleb 6.5.
4th) Paulinho 4.5.
5th) Dembele 4.
6th) Chadli 3.5.
7th) Assou-Ekotto 3.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

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The Ins and Outs at Tottenham in the Summer Transfer Window 2014.

The season is over, we’ve got a new manager and the World Cup is about to start. Time to relax, right? Far from it. The transfer window is fast approaching, with the window officially opening on July 1st, but all throughout June deals will be rumoured, proposed & some will be done all ready for pre-season. It’s a long window in the summer. July 1st until August 31st, so plenty of time for Tottenham Hotspur to get their squad sorted all ready for a massive Premier League season for the club. In this article I’ll be discussing the ins, outs & what I think the club has to do during what will be a busy summer for Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini & Mauricio Pochettino.

Firstly, I believe that during this summer window it’s crucial that we keep the core of the squad we have. That includes most of the 7 new signings and our longer serving players, this is because I have a lot of faith in the individuals we have and think the road to success is making the current squad click, not change it all up and starting again. Before last season, I was extremely excited with the signings and the structure of the squad we had, with a lot of depth, experience and young flair, but it didn’t work out as we wanted, the team failed to gel and in the end it cost Andre Villas-Boas his job. But, after having this first season in the Premier League, they are much more experienced and have learnt a lot, ready for them to hopefully, make the impact that we first hoped they would, especially with the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino who has a long history of getting the best out of his players. But, there are definite weaknesses in the squad that we have to address as to push on next season.

INS.
As I said; I don’t want an overhaul of the club and another 7-8 signings, we have extremely strong foundations of a World Class squad, but, in specific places we have to be aware of getting new players to possibly replace some fringe players & some that could unfortunately be sold to raise funds.

Centre Back - We currently have 4 senior centre backs, 5 if you include the promising Zeki Fryers, but Michael Dawson is now 30 and did not have a good season in my view, along with Younes Kaboul is the wrong side of 25 and is extremely unpredictable in both performances and injuries, so I think adding one could really be good for the team & add a bit of youth to the position.

There are a lot of options for centre back, but my favourite would be Southampton’s Dejan Lovren, who had a very good season for the Saints and has the connection with Mauricio Pochettino who brought him into the Premier League. A partnership between Lovren and Vertonghen would be great, wouldn’t it? Lovren is just 24 years old, the same age as Vlad Chiriches, so he also has a big future. In terms of price, I think he’d be worth around £12 million – £15 million, a reasonable price for a player of his age and level after Southampton paid £8 million for his services. I’d also be very happy if we could bring Atletico Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld to the Lane, the 25 year old ex-Ajax defender knows Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen well & we have been heavily linked, both last summer & this year, after he has expressed his disappointment with his game time in Madrid. I think he’d be a stellar option at the back, with his ability to bring the ball out of defence and with his pace. He can also play at right back, so has versatility too.

Other options could include free agent Joleon Lescott, who would be a much less exciting signing, but he has Premier League experience and it’s always a bonus that he would be free, although I’m sure his wages would be quite high. Another, would be Ezequiel Garay, but he would be a much more difficult signing because of the interest he already has from Champions League clubs, but he’s a 27 year old with incredible pedigree, but unlikely I think. Some would suggest Steven Caulker, but personally, I do not think he is at our level and is only being suggested because he’s a product of our academy, plus, I don’t think he’d be willing to play second fiddle again.

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Left Back – Probably the most important position that we strengthen this summer. Danny Rose had a torrid season and although he is only 23 years old, it’s difficult to believe that he will improve to the level that we need him to. So, I believe we should turn to either Swansea City’s Ben Davies, who is just 21 years old & now has 2 years of Premier League experience, performing extremely well & showing incredible promise, & I believe he’d be a brilliant addition, but difficult to obtain because of his personal connection to Swansea City, but it’s certainly someone we should enquire about, I’d speculate that his worth would be around £10million – £15 million.; the other is Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg, a 21 year old Swiss left back who has been incredible in the Bundesliga, but has a lot of admirers around Europe, so if we could get in early and show strong interest you never know what could happen, he’s an incredible player with a lot of potential, his value would be higher than Davies’, and I’d say the investment would be around £15 million – £20 million.

Other options could be Ajax’s Daley Blind, who is a 24 year old Dutch left back/midfielder who currently plays for Ajax, and his versatility and quality could be a really good addition to the club, but, is again, unlikely because of admirers from clubs in the Champions League. Finally, one other player who maybe, just maybe be possible is Luke Shaw, who although looking highly unlikely, his connection with Mauricio Pochettino could sway the deal in some way, at just 18 years old it would be a fantastic addition but he would be extremely expensive, with Manchester United rumoured to be offering £27 million for his services. As you can see, there are definitely players out there that could fill a gap in our team, & they are young players too who could grow under the leadership of Mauricio Pochettino.

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Left Midfield – We do have quite a few options on the left, Nacer Chadli, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Christian Eriksen & Andros Townsend can all play there, but we lack someone who is an out-and-out left winger who can bring pace and a crossing ability to the team. Eriksen and Sigurdsson both prefer central positions, with Townsend growing into a right midfielder, this leaves Nacer Chadli, who at times last season also looked more comfortable in the centre or the right, but I think over time on the left is where he’ll play. There is a gap. This gap can be filled by quite a few really talented players who I’d like to see at the Lane.

My first & realistic choice would be 24 year old Dnipro & Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, who has consistently been linked with a move to Tottenham and has a confirmed buy out clause for foreign clubs such as ourselves of £12 million, which in this market is an absolute bargain for a player who has a high pedigree of talent. Konoplyanka is known for his pace and ability to score a goal, as we saw when we faced Dnipro in last season’s Europa League, he was Dnipro’s outstanding player both home and away, giving our full-backs a torrid time. Of course, there are other options if this deal were to go pear-shaped or Liverpool decide to move for his services, & one of the options could be another Southampton player, Jay Rodriguez who was transformed by our new Head Coach into a goal scoring left forward last season, bagging 17 goals. Jay is 24 years of age, so has plenty of time ahead of him to improve, but the thing that obviously holds back this deal is his injury, in which he will be out until October because of a torn ACL. Surely this would put the deal into jeopardy, as paying big money for a player that’s return is unpredictable is something Daniel Levy normally wouldn’t do, although maybe this injury could force Southampton to sell at a lower price, I’d say he’d be worth around £10 million.

Other players that could tempt Baldini or Pochettino’s fancy could be Mauricio’s former captain at Southampton, Adam Lallana, who has been heavily tipped with a move away from the Saints, & of course speculation is rife that his relationship with Pochettino could sway Lallana’s decision to leave Southampton for Tottenham, instead of Liverpool. The 26 year old midfielder can play on the left, the right and through the middle and is rumoured to have an asking price of £20 million and rising, possibly close to £30 million depending on his performance for England at the World Cup. Last summer, we were heavily linked with Brazil winger Bernard, who eventually moved to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine for for £21.5 million, but recent quotes suggest it’s not exactly his dream to play in Ukraine and would be interested in a move to the Premier League, possibly sparking our interest.

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Striker – In January, we agreed to sell Jermain Defoe to Toronto, and he left the club in March, so we decided not to buy a replacement at the time, and stuck with Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane. Now, with rumours and speculation of the sales of Emmanuel Adebayor possibly to Monaco, & Roberto Soldado a possibility to leave for Atletico Madrid, it seems we’re going to be in the hunt for a new striker once again. Personally, I’d like to keep hold of both Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado, but if we want to sign a new striker funds may need to be amassed, and that could mean their sales, or one of their sales.

My number one target for the striker position is Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony, the 25 year old Ivorian scored 25 goals last season in all competitions for the Swans, cementing himself as one of the best signings of last summer, & I believe he could be the striker we’ve been missing for a long time, with his link up play being exceptional and having that clinical touch which is now proven in the Premier League after being outstanding in Holland. A right handful for any defender and can grow at just 25 years of age, it’s said Bony has an expensive price tag on his head, though, with some reports saying only £25 million would prise him away from the Welsh club. Another option, although seemingly unlikely has to be Chelsea and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku, who has had a good season with Everton on loan, it could be time someone took him off Chelsea’s hands and he can have a permanent club who love him very much. At just 21 years of age, Lukaku has a massive future ahead of him, being Belgium’s number 1 striker and scoring 35 goals in 2 Premier League seasons, proving his suitability to the Premier League, the question is, after proving himself, do Chelsea want to let him go? It seems after the expected signing of Diego Costa, Romelu Lukaku could be up for grabs, & I reckon we could, just could have a shot for around £20 million.

Other options up front include 20 year old Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, who plays at Standard Liege, with comparisons between himself at Lukaku, & a reported £8 million fee wanted from Standard Liege, he could be a striker that could grow eventually into our first striker, & is someone I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to taking an ever so slight gamble on, plus he has a definite resale price, which is right up Daniel Levy’s street. Another player who has been constantly linked with Tottenham over the years is Loic Remy, the 27 year old QPR striker had a very good season with Newcastle on loan and I know some would be very happy to see the Frenchman who’s going to the World Cup this summer, grace the Lane next season. I am unsure on Remy, but if we could get a deal at around £8 million, I wouldn’t have many qualms.

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There is a lot of talent up for grabs, & without a doubt Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini and Mauricio Pochettino will be searching throughout the market for the players to improve the Tottenham squad, so if you’re reading Franco, have a little look at the players I’ve mentioned, eh?

OUTS.
In every transfer window, especially for a big club like Tottenham, players need to be let go. The reasons are differ but the fact is it’s ruthless, because you have to make difficult decisions for the best of the whole squad, which may mean getting rid of fan favourites, good quality players & those that could have a big future. In other cases, it’s the fact the players just aren’t good enough, or don’t fit into the way you want your squad to look. In this transfer window, I hope that we won’t be too ruthless, & I hope we keep what I have already said is the core of a World Class squad, but there are some players that can be let go, to help the team improve, not in depth, but in quality.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto – I think time is up on Benny’s adventure with Tottenham. He’s had great years at the club, but now, he’s not at the level we need him to be, to be our number 1 left back, or even a back up at the age of 30. I’m sure a Premier League club would be willing to buy him permanently, and for £5 million or so I would say goodbye and thank you without hesitation.

Danny Rose – It’s been a difficult season for Danny Rose, after a good loan move with Sunderland he’s found it difficult to adapt to the level we would have wanted him at. A new left back is in order, & some may say, getting rid of Assou-Ekotto and Danny Rose leaves us dry, but I believe Zeki Fryers could well be a very good back up for a new left back at the age of 21, and with Mauricio Pochettino’s emphasis on youth he could well turn to Zeki Fryers. I’m sure Rose would have a host of buyers, at a Premier League level, and I’d let go happily for around £6 million – £8 million.

Jake Livermore – It’s more of when than if with Jake Livermore leaving Tottenham. He’s had a great year at Hull City and deserves to play regular first team football, and it’s a simple fact that he won’t get that at Tottenham. Hull City could well buy him after his loan spell there, & he has said he would be more than willing to make his move to the KC Stadium a permanent one. Reports suggest Tottenham will ask for around £8 million for the 24 year olds services.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – I say this with a heavy heart. I like Sigurdsson a lot and believe he has tremendous ability, technique and mental attitude, but it hasn’t really clicked at Tottenham, as he hasn’t been given a sustained place in the starting line up in his favoured central role. It could be possible that we loan Sigurdsson, to se how he does playing regular football at a Premier League team, but at 24, I think Tottenham could look for a permanent sale, and I’m definite he’d have a host of teams interested in his signature. I like Gylfi a lot, but it is a choice between him, Holtby & Chadli on who goes and I think I’d prefer Sigurdsson to go than the previous two.

Roberto Soldado – I’m undecided on this one. Part of me says, get rid, get the funds and buy a striker that seems to suit us better, but another side of me thinks that we should keep him, as with all our new 7 signings, & let him have another season in the Premier League to prove himself. Although, he is 29 and I can’t see him improving too much. I’d put Soldado down as a possibility of leaving, with Atletico rumoured to be interested in his services, and I’d probably let him go at the £15 million – £18 million mark.

Other players I’d let go include Jonathan Obika, Iago Falque, Ryan Mason & Grant Hall after their loan spells last season – read about our loan player’s last season HERE. Players that I don’t want to leave who you may think aren’t good enough, or it’s time to get rid include Kyle Naughton, who I think being on the bench is fine as a good back up to Walker and at left back, Michael Dawson, our captain who I think deserves more respect from our fan base, and I’m sure he’d be happy to stay and sit on the bench too, playing in the cup games; Aaron Lennon who I believe still has something to offer Tottenham, and again, is a good back up player for the squad & Lewis Holtby who I think deserves a season with Tottenham to prove his worth to the fans and the new manager.

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It’s simply crucial that Tottenham hang on to their best players this summer. It is paramount to any sort of success that the club want to get this coming season and it will make Mauricio Pochettino’s job ever so easier.

Hugo Lloris – Our best player. World Class and my player of the year last season. It’s so important that Mauricio gets Hugo on side in his project and pushes on with him as an integral part of the squad and dressing room. We have to do everything to keep hold of Lloris, as in my opinion he is our only irreplaceable player and earns the team at least 10 points a season, he’s that good. Thankfully, it seems Lloris is happy to stay and doesn’t want a move back to France, so that holds us in good stead ahead of this summer. Part of me doesn’t want him to do well in the World Cup, just so the interest dies down! I truly believe Hugo will stay.

Jan Vertonghen – Thankfully, Jan has confirmed that he will ‘definitely’ be staying at Tottenham, which is fantastic news for the club. Jan is a leader & a wonderfully gifted player who brings so much to the team. He didn’t have a good season last season, but I truly believe without injuries he’ll further improve, & he can become a crucial part of the team once more. Get him a new contract.

Christian Eriksen – Along with Vertonghen, Eriksen has confirmed he doesn’t want to leave Tottenham after just 1 season, which is excellent news for us, although I never doubted that he would leave as he’s not the type from my eyes to just give up at the first hurdle. Obviously, Eriksen is going to only improve next season and I can’t wait to see him in Pochettino’s team. Hopefully, we will build the team around him for years to come.

Erik Lamela – An injury hit season for our record signing. At just 22 years of age, Lamela has a massive future at White Hart Lane and it’s of paramount importance that we don’t let him go after one disrupted season. Under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino I really believe Lamela could be one of our most important players next season on the right hand side. It’s important Lamela has a good pre-season and goes into next season fit and raring to go.

Others who are going to be crucial that I really want the club to keep are most of our summer signings last season, including Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue & Nacer Chadli. I believe all have big roles to play at the club.

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Conclusions.
It’s going to be busy, unpredictable and extremely exciting. It always is with Tottenham in transfer windows, but I hope we can get our business done swiftly and have an undisrupted pre-season in which Pochettino can implement his ideas on the team and we can start the season ready with a team that compete with the top. It will always be the aim to get top four, but, this season, all I want is for the team to play with dignity, passion & good football, & if they could win something that would be fantastic.

What are your thoughts? Who should we sign, who should we sell and who should we keep? Leave a comment below, subscribe and follow me on twitter – @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

Welcome to Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino!

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed that our new Head Coach will be 42 year old Mauricio Pochettino on a 5 year deal after he resigned from his post as First team manager at Southampton. He is joined by assistant coach Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino as First team coach and Toni Jiménez as goalkeeper coach, who all worked with him closely at Southampton & Espanyol.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s Career.

Mauricio Pochettino is a 42 year old manager, who was born in Murphy, Argentina. He is a former centre back who has played for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, before moving to Espanyol in Spain, before joining Bordeaux in France, Paris Saint Germain in France again, & then returning to Espanyol. His career spanned from 1988 until 2006, in that time he played 578 times, scoring 29 times. He also played 20 times for Argentina scoring 2 goals.

Mauricio Pochettino started his managerial journey in 2009, when he was appointed Espanyol manager, the club were at the bottom of La Liga when he took charge in January, but under his guidance managed to escape relegation by a long way, finishing 10th. Mauricio then guided a young and inexperienced Espanyol side to 11th in 2010, but then secures a wonderful season in 2011, when he took Espanyol to 8th just one place outside a place in Europe, which with the team he had there, is remarkable. He spent another full season in 2012, but couldn’t replicate the same sort of season, but as others improved their teams ahead of his, Espanyol’s team continued to be using youth players, the club finished 14th, only 5 points off the relegation spots.

Espanyol then had horrible financial problems, forcing the club to sell their best players & these off the field problems were directly effecting the results on the pitch, & Pochettino’s efforts weren’t enough to stop a land slide in results & saw his team at the bottom of La Liga, and then, the club and Pochettino decided to terminate his contract by mutual consent with enormous regret and disapproval among the fans. During his time at Espanyol, Pochettino had to sell all his star players that were developed through his youth system, including Dani Osvaldo, Jose Callejon and Victor Ruiz. The club didn’t replace these stars due to financial problems, and could only use youth, much older players with short contracts & loan signings. Pochettino brought through 20 youth players to the Espanyol first team in his time there, a spectacular amount. Pochettino managed 161 games for Espanyol, winning 52 games, drawing 38 and losing 70 times. This looks poor, of course, but in the circumstances he was under his time there has to be seen as a success, on his part, but the club above him failed in their duty.

After leaving Espanyol in Late November, Pochettino landed a big Premier League job in late January with Southampton. Saint’s Chairman Nicola Cortese saw the potential in Mauricio, who replaced the highly popular Nigel Adkins who got Southampton into the Premier League, but the club were only 3 points off of the relegation places and Mauricio Pochettino was brought in with a history of making teams a regular in the top devision & threatening the European places. He did exactly that in his first season, securing 14th place, and recording wins over Chelsea and Manchester City. He impressed with his high tempo football, with an emphasis on attacking football, building from the back and getting the best out of his individual players, while creating an ethos that the team didn’t need to be afraid of the big clubs, inspiring the victories at St Mary’s to Chelsea and Manchester City. In that time, Pochettino visited White Hart Lane and lost 1-0 due to Gareth Bale’s late goal. I thought that day Southampton were outstanding, they restricted us and frustrated us and Gareth Bale really was the only difference between the sides.

In what turned out to be his last season at Southampton, Pochettino had his best season. They started the season wonderfully, and the football Southampton were playing was delightful to watch and at the time many of our fans were jealous of the football Pochettino was bringing to St Mary’s. During the first half they were there to be shot at, playing with no fear with a core of young, talented Englishman throughout the side, which were promoted through the youth system, such as Lallana, Chambers and Shaw as well as Rodriguez and Lambert. Southampton were 4th in November, but dropped off that pace after a run of playing very difficult games. But, the Southampton team were consistent in playing extremely attractive football and getting good results which in the end guided them to their best ever Premier League finish, 8th.

You may say that Pochettino underachieved with a good squad at Southampton, but I disagree. He built Southampton into a good squad, adding Dejan Lovren & Victor Wanyama who played vital parts in the Saints’ season, along with the new youth prospects Callum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse. Also, Pochettino brought out the best in Adam Lallana who was absolutely incredible and earned an England World Cup call up through Pochettino’s influence, as well as Ricky Lambert and Jay Rodriguez who scored a remarkable 17 goals and his game was really well suited to Pochettino’s system. Pochettino’s strength is getting the absolute best from what he has at his disposal.

The Future under Pochettino.

Mauricio Pochettino has signed a long term, 5 year deal at the club, and prides himself on seeing out projects with clubs, he said that the project that he had with Southampton had come to an end, and so now he is looking to start a new journey, and I think we are fortunate to be the club in which he sees a future with. 5 years is a long time in football. A long, long time in football. It’s paramount that we give Pochettino the time to integrate his type of football into the Tottenham squad and bring in his own players to create ‘Pochettino’s Tottenham’.

We can’t predict what the future will hold. Nobody can. But we can show hope, belief and expectation in what we want and think it will be like. Under Pochettino I expect the future to be bright. Brighter than it has been since Harry Redknapp took us to the Champions League quarter finals. The project we had with AVB prospered in the first season of his 3 year deal, but, was halted with poor football and bad decisions. What we could get, is the project we ever so wanted under Andre Villas-Boas. To get the team playing attractive, yet effective football.

Mauricio Pochettino’s style of play includes high pressurising, lots of possession & effective swash buckling counter attacking football. That, in itself, is the way Tottenham strive to play. We lacked discipline in defence last season, and Pochettino, as well as being effective offensively, makes his teams strong and hard to break down in defence. Tottenham’s current squad suits Pochettino’s style. One of the many reasons I believe Daniel Levy decided to opt with Pochettino, to see his investment on the young, talented players he brought in fit into his system and get the players playing to the best of their abilities.

It’s difficult to say whether Pochettino will see out his contract. A lot of things can happen which are unforeseeable & the history would suggest Daniel Levy is not too patient with managers and giving them time to implement their ideas, but also the fans, not being willing to see out long term projects because of impatience and extremely high expectations, which some would say are completely unrealistic. What we have to do as fans is unite behind the new Head Coach and support the team through the thick and the thin.

My opinion.

I am extremely happy with this appointment. I think Pochettino suits our club and I believe that he will prove those who don’t believe he is the person to take the club forward wrong in due course, but he could use a good start! Having a person with ambition, passion and classiness take over at the club is lovely to have. His ability to get the best out of the team he manages is exciting, and I can’t wait to see how he adapts to Tottenham and how the players perform under his leadership. Having his Assistants come with him is a big bonus for us, he can build something as a group and I believe strongly, that after waiting so long for things to ‘click’, we could have our wishes come true under Mauricio Pochettino.

We are going on another adventure. We will learn to love Pochettino, just like the Southampton fans did after meeting his appointment with disdain. I am extremely excited to see what the future holds under Mauricio Pochettino. Wishing him all the best of luck, and of course, COYS!!

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Loan Watch – Season Review 2013/14.

Tottenham Hotspur are known for utilising the loan system to give game time to young players and fringe players. This season has been no different, and now it’s time to evaluate how well the players have done in their loan spells for several different clubs in few different countries, and see what the future holds for them, whether it is at Spurs or away from Spurs, permanently, or on another loan deal.

Ryan Fredericks – Championship – Millwall. – The 21 year old right back made the move to Millwall in January, brought in to help the Lions avoid the drop. He started really well with a goal on his debut, but unfortunately Ryan dropped out of the Millwall team and didn’t play as much as he may have wanted, but was praised by manager Ian Holloway for his fight and quality during his time at Millwall. He played 18 times, scoring 1 goal, and I think we can say that this was a relatively successful loan spell, in which Fredericks gained vital League experience. Ryan has a future at Tottenham, he showed that with a brilliant performance against Anzhi in the Europa League prior to being loaned out, and he has shown a lot of quality and shown that he has a good attitude to the game. I’m looking forward to Ryan returning to Spurs, and possibly giving Kyle Walker competition next season.

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Jon Obika – Championship – Brighton & Charlton. The 23 year old striker firstly made the move to Brighton in January, in which he didn’t start a League game and only made 5 appearances from the bench, he didn’t score a League goal for the Seagulls. He started his only game for Brighton in the FA Cup and that is where his only goal came, against Port Vale. He made 8 appearances overall in his time down South, but he became something of a scapegoat at Brighton and after watching him play, it was fair. He was dreadful. He was then sent back to Tottenham in mid March, and then straight away sent out to Charlton, he didn’t score a goal during his time and 12 appearances, but 9 were from the bench. The player doesn’t have a future at Spurs, he is too old and doesn’t have the quality. A sale in the Summer is the best we can hope for.

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Alex Pritchard – League 1 – Swindon Town. Pritchard was on a youth loan deal at Swindon, and he recently turned 21 and so had to return to Tottenham early, but in his time at Swindon he had a very impressive season, being nominated for Young Player of the Year in the Football League and Young Player of the Year in League 1, he didn’t win, but it was a great achievement to be nominated. In 36 appearances, only 3 were from the bench and he became a key player for Swindon who eventually missed out on the play offs and finished 8th, but Alex Pritchard provided 8 goals and getting 11 assists, which I class as a real success and can see a real future at Tottenham for him, but first I’d give him one more season on loan, hopefully at a Championship club or a Premier League club.

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Shaquile Coulthirst – League 1 & League 2 – Leyton Orient & Torquay United. Our 20 year old striker had a very short stint at Leyton Orient in League 1, in which he only made 2 sub appearances after joining early on in January, he scored on his debut but then returned to Spurs after his one-month loan deal run out. Coulthirst was then loaned out to Torquay United in League 2 late on in March, in which he played 6 times for the Yellows in a short spell to try and help them stay in the Football League, unfortunately Shaq wasn’t able to help them stay up, but he scored 2 goals in those appearances. Unluckily, Coulthirst was injured in his final appearance for Torquay, and has now had surgery to his ankle and has a summer of rehabilitation ahead of him. Hopefully he comes back stronger, I believe Coulthirst has the right attitude to the game, and after another loan to a team in the Championship, a bit like Alex Pritchard, I think he could have a future at Tottenham.

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Lewis Holtby – Premier League – Fulham. Our 23 year old attacking midfielder joined Fulham in January after playing a fairly important role in the first half of our season, but Sherwood was not keen on Lewis. An opportunity for Lewis to get Premier League experience and come back next season stronger and better for it. I think we can say it was a successful loan spell, despite ending in relegation for Fulham, Lewis performed admirably in a dreadful team and was a fan favourite instantly due to his passion and commitment. He played 13 times for the Whites getting 1 goal and 3 assists, which by Fulham’s standards is pretty decent! I judge Lewis’ loan spell as a success and believe he can become a big player for Tottenham still.

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Jake Livermore – Premier League – Hull City. Jake is now 24 & his loan to Hull as been a complete success for the England international. Jake has been on the fringes of the Tottenham side for quite a long while now, plugging holes in our first team, but has never had a run in a Premier League team, until his loan to Hull. He has been a regular for the Tigers, playing 41 games, becoming a key player and learning next to Tom Huddlestone. He’s scored 3 goals and assisted 4, a good tally for a holding midfielder. Jake has expressed his desire to complete a permanent move to Hull City, and with the quality we have in his position, I don’t think whoever is our new manager will make Jakey stay. He deserves first team football, and he’ll get that at Hull.

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Iago Falque – La Liga – Rayo Vallecano. Now 24, this loan for Iago was extremely important, either to prove himself to a Tottenham, or the more likely option of him playing to be bought by another club. What this loan has done for him is to propel himself into the limelight at Rayo, and get him a permanent transfer to La Liga after playing a key part in their campaign. You may ask, why can’t he make it at Tottenham? I think the reason is that he is set on first team football, regularly, to improve himself and better his career. He wouldn’t start at Tottenham. Iago scored 3 goals and got 2 assists for Rayo in 31 appearances, becoming a regular for them.

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Ryan Mason – League 1 – Swindon. Ryan has had an injury stricken season with Swindon, having an ankle injury which needed surgery, he was playing very well for Swindon along with Pritchard & Grant Hall, he played 18 times, which is still a respectable amount, starting 13 times. Ryan is 22, and is not at a Premier League level, so I do not know what the future holds. Mason needs to concentrate on getting fit in the summer and coming back stronger to either push for another loan move, or a permanent transfer. Mason scored 5 goals and got 1 assist for Swindon in his 18 appearances.

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Cristian Ceballos – Primeira Liga – FC Arouca. Ceballos is 21, we signed him from Barcelona in 2011 and had extremely high hopes for his future, of course the media tipping him as the next Lionel Messi! This season, Ceballos was in Portugal, & although I haven’t seen him play, the stats suggest he hasn’t hit it off as he would have wanted. Next season, I think a loan to a more prestigious club would be much better for him, testing him at a higher level. Cristian has played 19 times but only scored 1 goal, with Arouca finishing 12th in the Primeira Liga out of 16 teams. I would like to give Ceballos another chance to prove himself next season, on loan, hopefully at an English club.

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Tom Carroll – Championship – QPR. It’s been an on-and-off season for Tom Carroll. At 21, you could say he still has massive potential to become a wonderful player, but then you compare him to where Christian Eriksen & Erik Lamela are at the same age and it takes the shine off of his potential. At QPR, Carroll wasn’t best liked by the Ranger’s fans, but still played a lot of games. Although, he struggled with the physicality and intensity of the Championship, & I’d argue it wasn’t the best move for him, & Tottenham should have pushed for a Premier League loan move, or potentially abroad, to a club like Ajax. Carroll has a massive season ahead of him now, in which he can show he has a massive future, or it all goes a bit pear shaped for the young lad. I think Carroll will get another loan move, & I hope it is to a Premier League club this time, to test himself more. Carroll made 26 appearances and helped QPR reach the Premier League, not managing a goal, but getting 4 assists.

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Benoit Assou-Ekotto – Championship – QPR. Now 30 years of age, a loan for Benoit is exactly what he would have wanted. I’m sure he’d like to be settled at a club and playing consistent football, but this is the hand he was dealt. His performances with Tottenham were no less than appalling, after injury, he hasn’t recovered and returned to the level he was at during our Champions League years. At QPR, I watched Assou-Ekotto a fair bit, & analysed how the QPR fans saw him, and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. When a player is struggling to handle the Championship at the age of 30, there’s no doubt in my mind that he is not Tottenham level. Long balls, mistakes, a lack of pace and wayward crossing. He’s not better than Danny Rose, and that’s not a compliment to Danny Rose. I don’t think he has a future with Tottenham, & it’s best he moves on. He played 31 times for QPR, not scoring a goal, but getting 2 assists.

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Grant Hall – League 1 – Swindon. Our 22 year old centre back was a regular for Swindon last season, but was struck by injury in early January, and then didn’t feature until late April, before he was injured again and returned to Spurs for treatment. Hall is a very decent player from what I’ve seen, but I don’t know what the future holds for him. I think Hall will get another loan next season, maybe even back to Swindon, & then we can see what happens when he has a solid, injury free season. Hall played 36 times for Swindon last season, with no goals or assists.

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All in all, I think the loan system really helps Tottenham and their young/fringe players. We can utilise other club’s abilities to grow youth and play players that wouldn’t get game time at Tottenham. Next season, I expect another large amount of young players to go out on loan, but hopefully, we can get rid of some deadwood this summer and trim the squad. Let’s see what happens! COYS!!

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