Tottenham Loan Watch – Season Review 2014/15.

Another season has passed, with many players being loaned out for various different reasons; some to showcase their talents for a permanent move, some to improve while gaining experience and some to show that they are ready for a place in the Tottenham first team. There have been a lot of impressive loan stars, but on the flip side there have been that look destined for an exit from Tottenham permanently, and I’m going to give my verdict on whether they are ready for Tottenham, need another loan spell or should be sent packing on a new adventure.

Grant Hall – Championship – Birmingham & Blackpool. The 23-year-old central defender played a part in two struggling Championship sides, and didn’t really establish himself in either as a key player. Under Lee Clark at both Blackpool and Birmingham it looked as though Clark liked Hall, as after being sacked from his managerial role at Birmingham he made sure he took the defender in his new role at the Tangerines but it didn’t really help them defensively, as Birmingham improved after the departure of Clark and Hall, and Blackpool continued to concede a shed load. He only made nine appearances for Birmingham before moving to Blackpool where he made 12 appearances, getting on the score sheet once. After moving to Spurs from Brighton Hall hasn’t made an appearance for Tottenham and at 23 I don’t see him getting to that level after three unsuccessful loan spells at Swindon, Birmingham & Blackpool. It’d be best for Grant Hall to find another club on a permanent basis in my view, possibly at a Championship club.
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Kenneth McEvoy – Peterborough & Colchester – League One. The 20-year-old winger was unfortunate to only gain nine appearances across his two loan spells this season, netting once for Peterborough but not scoring for Colchester as he was unluckily on the bench and wasn’t given a run of games in either the Peterborough or Colchester sides. After being called back early because of a lack of game time at Peterborough, and being given the opportunity at Colchester for more games, it didn’t happen for the youngster and was therefore called back to Spurs where he featured for the U21 side, in which he had more success – scoring two and assisting two, including a great goal at Old Trafford against a strong Manchester United youth side. Tottenham need to find the right club for McEvoy in which he can gain experience, as he does have talent, but needs to find a League One side in which he can have a full season as a key part of a side, which is important for him. Hopefully, with another loan spell he can show his quality – as he is still young.
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Shaq Coulthirst – Southend & York – League Two. The 21-year-old striker’s loan deal included being available for our U21 side. Coulthirst made a respectable 36 appearances for both Colchester and York combined, which is a very respectable total and I’m sure Shaq earned a lot of experience and leaned a lot in what is a very tough League to play in and get any consistency in your performances. Shaq managed to strike six goals in League Two this season, which I’m sure he will be a little disappointed with, but coming off the bench often and not having a prolonged time in either side I’m sure it would have been difficult for him. Southend was fairly successful loan for Coulthirst and I hope he can learn from the experience, and hopefully gain himself a loan to a better League next season, most likely in League One. Hopefully he can improve further and become a more clinical striker – more goals is what he needs to bring to next season, and if he can do that then maybe he can have a future in the first team at Spurs, having already made his debut for the senior side.
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Ryan Fredericks – Middlesbrough – Championship. At 22 years old, Fredericks has been a very promising player coming up from the youth ranks, the right back has already made his senior debut for Tottenham, and looked very impressive. But as the competition at right back has increased the chances for Ryan Fredericks have seemingly decreased and the loan spell at Boro looked like an opportunity for him to showcase the talent that he definitely possesses. Unfortunately Fredericks made only 19 appearances in all competitions for Middlesbrough, being in and out of the side that got to the play off final, although unfortunately Ryan did not take part in the final. I think the loan was beneficial for Fredericks but he has a battle on his hands to compete with Kyle Walker, DeAndre Yedlin and now Eric Dier who has played at right back a lot this season – and his time at Spurs could come to an end. But, I think if he can secure another loan deal for next season to further show his talents, which would be best for him, in the Championship most probably.
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Jordan Archer – Northampton & Millwall – League Two & Championship. Two very interesting loan deals for the 22-year-old Scottish U21 international goalkeeper. First, a loan deal, which would seemingly get him a good amount of experience in a competitive League, but Jordan Archer only amassed 16 appearances, being unfortunately behind their first choice ‘keeper, so not really getting a look in unless he was injured – so I think it was poor of Tottenham to loan him to a side that couldn’t guarantee him first team football, which for a young goalkeeper is crucial. Due to that lack of action, Archer was recalled, but wasn’t back at Spurs for long as he was then loaned quite surprisingly to Championship side Millwall, which is a big step up from Northampton, and it didn’t look as though he would get much game time and we were right – he didn’t appear in a single game at the Den, so the only reason for the loan you would expect is to experience that feeling in a dressing room and on the training ground of a Championship side. I think it’s unlikely that Archer becomes a first team goalkeeper for us, with Luke McGee looking promising and also with the strength we have in-between the sticks. Possibly another loan deal to a League One side next season, but if not it could be time for Archer to find a new club permanently this time, with chances at Spurs looking limited and not really impressing out on loan this season. (Now Released)
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Grant Ward – Coventry – League One. The versatile 20-year-old midfielder joined Coventry in mid March, and was a key part of the side during that time, making 11 outings for the Sky Blues during the short loan spell. After a loan to the MLS with Chicago Fire which I’m sure was quite the experience for young Ward, it’s crucial to his development that he gets time to play in England in the lower leagues, so that he can gain the knowledge of competitive English football. As helpful as the loan to Chicago might have been on a personal level, moving out to the US for a season at a young age, the level of football is not the same as England and I hope that next season Ward is able to get a good loan deal to a Championship club. We have seen his quality in our post-season tour against Malaysia and Sydney, where he has looked lively – but I don’t think he is quite ready for the first team, so needs to experience a full, good, season as part of a Championship side – that would be very beneficial for Grant Ward. He helped the Coventry side escape relegation from League One with his performances, which according to the Coventry fan base were of a very good level, gaining one assist as well.
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Tom Carroll – Swansea – Premier League. 23-year-old Tom Carroll has been one of our most promising young players for quite a while now, and after a loan spell to QPR in the Championship which was quite unsuccessful, it looked like his spark as the next first team player was evaporating – but this loan move to a Premier League club was fantastic. Carroll needed a club that could nurture him as the technical, petite central midfielder that he is – and if you could pick any Premier League side to do that it is Swansea. It was the perfect loan deal for him and very good for all three parties, Tottenham, Swansea and Carroll himself. Although it was always unlikely that Carroll would be a constant in the Swans side, he was still being developed by a great manager in Garry Monk and fighting for a spot in a solid Premier League side. At 23 it is make or break time for Carroll, and making 18 appearances in all competitions for Swansea is a good tally, netting once in the FA Cup and also notching an assist. I’m pleased with how the loan went for Carroll, and now, with the break of Mason and Bentaleb into the first team he has to be aiming to be a part of the first team for next season – another loan would only demoralise what is a good talent in Tom Carroll in my view. He has performed well in our post-season tour, and needs to impress in our pre-season as well, just like Mason did last pre-season. I really hope Tom can impress Pochettino and be a part of next season’s squad.
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Milos Veljkovic – Championship – Middlesbrough & Charlton. At just 19, getting two loan deals to Championship level is very good. Milos is one of our most promising and versatile players, able to play in central defence or central midfield. Unfortunately, after not establishing himself in the Middlesbrough team, which was very fiercely contested for a central midfield and centre defence, Milos was recalled having made just three appearances for Boro. But, yet again it is another experience for a very young and encouraging young player – but after not getting the chances at a high flying Middlesbrough, he was sent out to Charlton in the lower half of the Championship, fighting for survival – but Milos was unfortunate, and after three outings for Charlton he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was forced back to Tottenham with his season over. Now, after only six appearances on loan in the Championship, but decent experience, it’s time for Spurs to find Veljkovic a good loan move to a Championship club, where he can be a regular and master his craft in either central midfield or defence. I have high hopes for Milos and after making his first team debut under Tim Sherwood and then a Europa League appearance under Pochettino, I hope he can get a good season out on loan next term and then work his way into the first team for the 2016/17 season.
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Aaron Lennon – Everton – Premier League. A different sort of loan move for Lennon, who has already had a very good career with Tottenham and is an England international – so a loan move is surely only a way of trialling Lennon before eventually signing him. Everyone at Spurs is very thankful for what Lennon has done in his time with the club, but it looks as though that time is coming to an end. He deserves first team football at a Premier League side and Everton seems perfect for Aaron; whether he will go to Everton or not is still to be seen but after some good performances on Merseyside I think it’s likely Roberto Martinez will aim to bring Lennon in on a permanent basis. We’ll be sad to see him go, but it’s time for Lennon to have a different experience in the Premier League – I hope he can get a move that is beneficial for all three parties involved. Lennon made 14 appearances for the Toffees, scoring twice – and in his short time with them that is a solid return – and after Lennon saying that he enjoyed it at Everton; I think it’s likely he will make a permanent move.
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Nathan Oduwa – Luton – League Two. A good loan move for young Oduwa; the 19-year-old forward appeared 11 times for Luton in League Two, failing to score but gaining valuable experience in competitive League football. Joining in February, he did well to amass the amount of appearances that he did, with his loan finishing in early May. It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t find the net as he has looked quite a natural finisher in the youth ranks, but he will be better for the experience in a trying League. The future for Oduwa should include a few more loan spells, hopefully working his way up the Leagues, becoming more effective with his goals and assists – then we can judge whether he is one for the first team or not. At just 19 we cannot really judge him properly. So hopefully he can get a good loan spell for next season, and improve further. We’ve seen Oduwa perform really well for the U21s, this season netting four times and notching four assists in just 11 outings, so I really hope he can progress further next term.
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Bongani Khumalo – Colchester – League One. At 28, Khumalo does not have a future at Tottenham. Having been a part of out side for four years and not making a single outing for the first team, it’s quite obvious that his future does not lie at White Hart Lane. He has been very open to the fact he is looking for a new, permanent club, and the club has also been open in saying that it is trying to find him one. At Colchester, he did perform well, helping them escape relegation with his performances at the back, and the South African international will be happy with that, having come back from a very serious knee injury recently. Hopefully the club is able to find Khumalo a club that he can be a key part of, because he is not a bad player – which is evident with almost 50 caps for South Africa, but it hasn’t worked for him at Tottenham and Khumalo will want to find a new adventure, whether that is in England or not we will have to see. The bizarre Tottenham career of Bongani Khumalo is at its climax, folks. He made 10 appearances for Colchester in League One. (Now Released)
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Emmanuel Sonupe – St Mirren – Scottish Championship. Quite the experience for 19-year-old Emmanuel Sonupe; sent on loan to Scotland in February. The winger/forward made only four appearances for St Mirren, mostly on the bench for the Saints it was never going to be a place where he would get a lot of action in the starting XI, but I’m sure the experiences was eye opening for young Sonupe, who could see how the difficult and gritty Scottish Championship compares to the relaxed and comfortable Tottenham U21s. He wouldn’t have been nurtured as much and treated as well, but it would have been good for him and I’m sure competitive League football was the aim and he got a taste of it, and now at 19 he will be looking to push on and secure another loan move for next term in the English divisions, with League Two the most likely destination for Sonupe, unless it is decided that he should stay in the U21s and be developed in a more comfortable scenario. Another promising young player along with Nathan Oduwa.
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Lewis Holtby – Hamburg – Bundesliga. Lewis Holtby has been a fan favourite at Spurs since his arrival from Schalke; his passion and desire being an instant hit with the fans – but unfortunately that hasn’t been enough to see him become a first team player at the Lane. After an underwhelming first season, and then a loan deal to Fulham which was okay, he simply didn’t get the opportunity to show his quality at Spurs, and despite looking the sort of player that Pochettino would like, with his work rate and energy plus having a good pre-season, it wasn’t to be and a loan deal to Hamburg was arranged with an option to buy clause which Hamburg have activated. A move back to the Bundesliga wasn’t what Holtby had hoped so early in his Premier League career, but it seems best for a player that for all the passion and determination, sadly doesn’t look to have the talent that as a number 10, and a supposedly creative player should have. He doesn’t get enough goals or assists to really cement a place in Tottenham’s first team. At Hamburg, he has made 24 appearances in a struggling side, only getting two assists and no goals, which is disappointing for an attacking player such as Holtby. It’s best that he moves on, back to Hamburg and I’m sure he can have a good career, and you never know, one day he could be back in the Premier League as he is a just 24. (Now Sold)
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Dele Alli – MK Dons – League One. Our new signing this January, who was then loaned pack to MK Dons for the remainder of their season – and in the end, secured automatic promotion to the Championship – and our 19-year-old central midfielder played a massive part in that, scoring a very impressive 16 goals and assisting 11 times for the Dons in all competitions in 44 appearances. He has had a stellar season and earned himself the Young Player of the Year award throughout the Football League, as well as Player of the Year at MK Dons. They will miss him at stadium Mk, but their loss will be our gain as we take on one of the most promising players in the football league. His goal scoring knack and ability on the ball has been very good this season and I look forward to seeing him at Tottenham – as I think he will fit straight into the first team squad, pushing Ryan Mason, Tom Carroll and Nabil Bentaleb for the central midfield spot – but it will be tough. He needs a good pre-season under his belt and show Pochettino what he can do in the Tottenham side, as of course it’s a different level to that of MK Dons.
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Alex Pritchard – Brentford – Championship. Probably our most impressive loan star; in the Championship he was brilliant – and arguably their best player. His creativity, agility and quality in the final third made him a menace to all the defences in the Championship. He made 47 appearances for Brentford, scoring an impressive 12 goals and 7 assists. This season he was voted Brentford’s player of the season, included in the Championship team of the season and voted the eight best player in the Championship. He had a phenomenal season, and now his place in the Tottenham first team is inevitable. Mauricio Pochettino has already confirmed that Pritchard is part of his plans for next season and that is brilliant, he has the talent and the ability to be a crucial and key player for us next season, and we do need another creative and talented attacking player to rival Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela – especially Christian Eriksen who needs competition for the number 10 role that he has been virtually unchallenged for. At 22 years of age, it’s time for Pritchard to make the step up to the Premier League with Tottenham – after loan spells to League One, and then the Championship – he looks ready and hopefully he can be just as effective for Spurs as he was for Brentford. He is also a set piece specialist, from corners and free kicks, which is a good asset to have. I’m really looking forward to seeing the exciting Pritchard in action at the Lane next season.
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Dominic Ball – Cambridge United – League Two. The 19-year-old centre back and England U20 international has a promising future ahead of him and he started his senior career with a loan to Cambridge in League Two, which is good for young Ball. He made 11 appearances in the League for Cambridge, and as he was only there from January that is a fairly respectable total, and from central defence he also managed to get two assists to his name. I have seen Dominic Ball in action for the U21s and he looks a strong but also technical defender, and hopefully he can continue to improve next season. He is very young for a defender, and he needs the experience to progress further – so another loan deal next season would do him good, possibly back in League Two, or even League One. He is a decent player but needs to gain that crucial experience and knowhow. I think he is a good prospect.
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DeAndre Yedlin – Seattle Sounders – MLS. Our summer signing was kept at Seattle Sounders before making the move to Tottenham in January, and his performances were very good for Seattle, helping them win the US Open Cup, the Supporter’s shield and being named the U.S Young Athlete of the year. He had a great season with Seattle, but unfortunately couldn’t top it off with the MLS Cup via the play offs. He’s now made his Tottenham debut and he also played really well in the post-season tour in Malaysia and Sydney, and DeAndre after settling in London after being here since January, he can now push on and challenge Kyle Walker for the right back slot next season. I really think Yedlin can be a big player for us next season, after seeing him perform so well in the World Cup in Brazil, I think he has all the qualities to be a great player for Tottenham – and at just 21 years of age he does have a lot to learn in English football, and defensively he can be a little suspect but obviously under guidance, of which he looks very willing to take on and learn from. He’s a very ambitious young player and that shows in his bravery in taking on a massive step up from MLS football to the Premier League and I hope that he can be a big player for us, but also help Kyle Walker to improve by putting pressure on the English international. Yedlin made 30 appearances for Seattle last season and notched a solid four assists from right back, he has also cemented himself as a regular in the USA national side under the guidance of Jurgen Klinsmann.
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It’s been a very eventful season for our loanees, and you would expect that next season it would be just as hectic with young players going out on loan. I would expect loan deals for some of our most promising players, but I would not be surprised to see Mauricio Pochettino be even braver with putting youngsters into the cup competitions next season such as Joshua Onomah, Harry Winks and Kyle Walker-Peters. Hopefully we can see some of last season’s loan players in our first team, especially Dele Alli, Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard. Young, exciting English players, and they can join the likes of Danny Rose, Harry Kane and Ryan Mason in becoming key players of our first team. The loan system has been very beneficial for Tottenham in recent years and you have to expect us to continue to use it to our advantage and help develop some very good players that we have within our ranks. Thank you for following the #LoanWatch on twitter this season, and follow me on twitter for more next season here @AddictedToSpurs! COYS!!
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You can also read my full Tottenham Season Review for the 2014/15 season HERE.
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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
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Naughton – Dier – Vertonghen – Davies
Paulinho – Carroll
Townsend – Holtby – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference:

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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Transfer Window Review – January 2014

We didn’t sign anyone this transfer window, there were calls from fans to sign another striker and a left back, but we did neither and I think that is due to many things. Personally, I am not disappointed we didn’t sign anyone, if anything I am pleased we didn’t panic and shake the squad up even more, which certainly isn’t needed. What we need, which is what Sherwood thinks, is our injured players to return to the pitch and give a big push until the end of the season for Champions League football, that’s the aim, we’ve got the players to do that. We need them to perform and get us there.

The teams around us didn’t do a lot of business:

Manchester City and Liverpool signed nobody! City maybe didn’t need anyone, but I think Liverpool needed at least 1-2 players for squad depth.

Manchester United signed Mata, which although is a brilliant signing you could say they didn’t particularly need him, I think there are a lot of other areas of the pitch they needed to strengthen.

Arsenal only signed Kallstrom on loan. In my opinion probably needing a striker.

Everton made two signings, Lacina Traore on loan and Aiden McGeady, two good signings though.

Chelsea were busy, but sold Mata, signed Salah and Matic with Zouma coming in and being loaned out straight away.

What other teams did shows that the January window isn’t a good time to make signings, especially long term signings, for us, signing nobody showed that nobody worth buying was there. I can’t think of many realistic signings that would hugely improve or improve our squad at all.

Our departures in January…

Jermain Defoe to Toronto for £6 million. – Expected departure, he’s here to stay until March, will be sad to see him leave as he has been a great player for us over the years. We’ll have a great send off for him in his last few games.

Simon Dawkins to Derby for an undisclosed fee. – After being on loan and impressing, the 24 year old has finally left Spurs permanently, good luck to him, was never going to get the chance at the Lane.

Shaquile Coulthirst to Leyton Orient on loan. – The young striker has impressed for our youth side, now he gets the chance to strut his stuff and score some goals with some experience under his belt!

Jon Obika to Brighton on loan. – Forever on loan, now 23 years old, it doesn’t seem he’s got a future at Spurs. It’s a chance for him to score goals to secure a permanent deal away from Spurs I presume.

Ryan Fredericks to Millwall on loan. – Big future for Ryan at the club, he has also signed a new deal at Spurs until 2017 and this loan will be great for him, I’ve been really impressed with him for the U21s and for the first team. Now he can gain some experience and get into the first team next season.

Adam Smith to Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee. – Upsetting it hasn’t worked out for Adam at Spurs, after a few appearances in the first team some thought he could be direct back up to Kyle Walker, but with the emergence of Fredericks it seems he’s no longer needed in the future.

Lewis Holtby on loan to Fulham. – I’m glad Holtby can get first team football in the Premier League, he deserves that. A brilliant player who will probably keep Fulham in the League, he needs to show his quality at the Whites and then come back to Tottenham next season even better and even stronger. I still have confidence Lewis has a big future at Spurs. I’ll miss him for the rest of the season though!

The deals that never materialised.

Dimitar Berbatov to Spurs. – Dimitar ended up at Monaco on Deadline Day permanently from Fulham! After being heavily linked, it is reported Sherwood said no to possibly signing the Bulgarian striker. I was on the fence about his signing, on one hand he is a player who disrespected our club greatly when leaving to Manchester United, on the other hand he was still the player that made my mouth-water when I watched. Difficult to chose. But, it’s not happened, so we don’t have to worry about the backlash!

Etienne Capoue to Napoli. – The deal didn’t go through! Yay! I’m happy he’s stayed, been one of our better signings, early on he was incredible for us, now he gets to stay and continue his time at the club. Good news, although I must say I thought he would depart. Maybe his goal against Manchester City persuaded Sherwood to keep him!

Conclusion.

Nothing special! Not many shocks and not any incomings. Some may have wanted a left back or a striker but I fully believe we have the squad to compete heavily for the top four places. Thank God it’s all over, we can fully concentrate of football. No excuses now! Let’s have a right crack at it! COYS!!

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Match Review, Fulham vs Tottenham.

Match: Wednesday 4th December 2013.

Premier League

Fulham 1-2 Tottenham.

Goal for Fulham: Dejagah 56′

Goals for Tottenham: Vlad Chriches 73′, Lewis. Holtby 82′

Yes! What a vital win! The performance wasn’t good enough, yet again, but this time we got three points on the board and moved up to sixth place from ninth. Fulham were always going to be up for it, a London derby at Home, with a new manager in place, a new era beginning, it was a big occasion and they turned up, putting in a brilliant performance, full credit to them, they were fantastic. We, on the other hand, weren’t good, sloppy in possession, defensively shaky and wasteful up top; yes we were unlucky on a few opportunities but it certainly wasn’t what we wanted to see after an inspiring performance on Sunday against Manchester United. First half was a right off, not good at all and had Lloris to thank we weren’t 1-0 down sooner. In the second half, we did improve, but a Michael Dawson mistake led to the opening of our defence and Dejagah finished really well and Fulham were flying. More frustration, more sloppiness followed, but we got back in the game after Vlad Chiriches’ wonder strike, his first goal for Spurs, made it 1-1, then the game was ours to win. And in the 82nd minute we did exactly that, Lewis Holtby with a screamer, and his first ever Premier League goal, what a time to get it! All the worries of the performance out the window with that one. Flashes of Bale in the strike.

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The pick of the bunch for me out of all the players, was Hugo Lloris. He is something else. The best ‘keeper in the Premier League by a mile, and our saviour like Bale was last season, his saves get better every week, his speed, agility and quick thinking make him one of the best in the world, and he’s showed it again at Fulham, stopping the Cottagers from running away with it. Vlad Chiriches has been the surprise package of our 7 summer signings this season, he’s been a breath of fresh air at the back and delighted for him that he got his goal, what a goal it was! Lewis Holtby out in a top performance once coming on, he brought fluidity and creativity to the midfield, bringing the wingers into play more, and got the goal he deserved. So much passion and desire to win from him, it was great that he was the one to get the goal to seal the three points, a belter of a goal and his first for Spurs in the Premier League. Disappointed with our first half display, but we improved in the second half and getting those two goals could be the most important so far this season. As for Defoe up front, I want Soldado back up top on Saturday in Sunderland.

Great to get the win that was crucial, hopefully this can spark us into some form starting on Saturday, we’re back in action very quickly at the Stadium of Light on Saturday 7th December, kick off at 5:30pm. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Fulham at Craven Cottage:
Lloris – 9 – Man of the match.
Walker – 8 – Very impressive, he’s improved massively this season.
Dawson – 5 – Love him, but when Rose is back, he should be the first to drop out.
Chiriches – 9 – Can I award two man of the match awards? Course I can, I’m writing the damn thing. Man of the match 2.
Vertonghen – 7 – Didn’t look up for this one, get him back at centre back.
Capoue – 6 – His first PL start in a while, sloppy, but I’m sure he’ll improve.
Sandro – 6 – Sloppy too, but gave 100%, looked tired really.
Lennon – 8/9 – Very impressive, been brilliant since back from injury.
Paulinho – 6 – Missed a sitter! Needs to move the ball quicker.
Lamela – 7 – Very bright in the first half, and unlucky not to score, but tailed off in the second half.
Defoe – 5/6 – Quiet most of the game, could argue he didn’t do worse than Soldado, but may as well sit on the bench if so. Soldado better at linking the play.

Highlights from our 2-1 win over Fulham:

Andre’s post match reaction:

Lewis Holtby, where does he fit in?

In the January window of last season, we bought Lewis Holtby for £1.5 million from Schalke in Germany. Bargain. The German U21 captain came with high expectation as a creative midfielder with bags of potential. He came in at a time in which Gareth Bale was making all the headlines in the number 10 role, so Lewis was forced to the wings, or more often the bench. Not a great start.

This summer, we brought in a lot of great talent, players who could make a big difference and we brought them in for big money. Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho (to an extent), Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen are all players who will bring creativity and goals to the team. This makes it difficult for players like Holtby, who were already here to get an opportunity. Especially, when a player like Eriksen comes in as a proven, but still young, quality number 10. He’s been phenomenal since he came in for a cheap fee of £11.5 million.

The squad we have is brilliant, two players at least in every position that can fill each other’s boots very well. Players will get frustrated sitting on the bench, not playing week-in-week-out, but that’s football, you have to earn your spot in training and when you get a sniff of a chance, you have to prove that you are as good, if not better than the person ahead of you in the rankings.

What does this mean for Lewis Holtby though? Lewis has been getting his chances in the Europa League and other cup competitions, against opposition who are inferior to that of the Premier League, but in those games he’s been doing extremely well. He has 1 goal and 6 assists, which are the same as goals for a creative player like Holtby, with a hat-trick of assists against Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup. His playmaking abilities have been noticed, finally, by Spurs fans and he is loved by all, not just for his ability, but because of his passion for football, and more importantly, Spurs. Lewis Holtby gets what football is about, he says the right things, he does the right things and he does them for us. The fans. He’s on his way to becoming a legend, I truly believe that. All he needs now, is a chance to start in the Premier League.

Where he plays is something that Spurs fans have been debating about for a while now, how do you fit him in? He hasn’t got the pace for the wings, and our deeper midfield is packed with the talent of Dembele, Paulinho, Sandro and Capoue who are much more capable defensively than Lewis, the only place left is the number 10 role. This has been operated by Christian Eriksen so far this season, who as I said has been a revelation since coming in, quick thinking, perfect passing and hailed as the next Michael Laudrup, taking him out of the team would be wrong, he offers too much in my opinion. But could you fit Lewis Holtby and Christian Eriksen into the same team? Possibly. It would give you a lot of creativity and options going forward, and would help out Roberto Soldado a lot, the service he could get would be top notch and would guarantee goals.

This is my thought:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Paulinho – Dembele
Lamela – Holtby – Eriksen
Soldado

This line up may look like it lacks width, which it possibly does. But this is where the full-backs can come into play, we have two full-backs who love to get forward if given the opportunity, they are very pacey and Danny Rose can produce a great delivery, as can Kyle Walker on his day, this formation could be one that we use at home in a game where we won’t be getting too much attacking pressure from the opposition, but I think this is a team that if they were to work together they could create something great. Kaboul has the ability to cover the right back slot as Walker gets forward, as does Vertonghen on the left side as Rose goes forward. The balance in this team seems right to me. Eriksen has the ability to work in from the left side, and create opportunities, as does Erik Lamela on the right, who also can go to the byline if needed. Holtby being the figure head in midfield is something I’d really love to see, I believe he could shine in this position, and create a great partnership within the front four. Interchanging positions and roaming at the right time could be great as well. Soldado needs service, and I think this could be a brilliant way to get him that. Give it a go, Andre.

That’s the only way I can think to include Holtby, who I believe will be pushing the current first-team players very hard for a start in the cup competitions. Players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli are all missing from that line up, who have been good, especially Townsend and Siggy, but I believe Holtby could make a big impact in this Spurs side. I just can’t get enough of Lewis Holtby!

What are your thoughts on Lewis Holtby, should he start? Instead of who? Do you agree with my team, if not, what would your starting 11 be? Leave a comment! COYS!

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Match Review, Anzhi Makhachkala vs Tottenham.

Thursday 3rd October 2013

Europa League

Anzhi Makhachkala 0-2 Tottenham. Defoe 34′, Chadli 39′.

Professional performance from the lads in a game that we were more than expected to get a result. We were dominant, and we deserved the three points to keep us at the top of our group in the Europa League. We weren’t amazing, but we got the job done fairly easily and didn’t leave room for any upsets. In the first half we passed the ball around really well and controlled the game, Lewis Holtby and Mousa Dembele at the heart of our control. We couldn’t find the decisive pass to open up the Anzhi defensive unit that was being relatively sturdy. Finally, Lewis Holtby picked a delightful pass through to Jermain Defoe who slotted home clinically, as usual, to make it 7 goals for the season and 5 in the Europa League. Quickly after another delicious ball from Holtby set Walker away down the right to set up Nacer Chadli who finished well in the box for his second Spurs goal. The second half was very, well, boring. Anzhi pushed into the game a bit more, but we held on and completed a good win.

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No real stand out performances for this game. I don’t think anyone was bad, as it was difficult conditions on a cold night in Russia, the bobbles on the pitch didn’t help us to play our game, and made it difficult for both attack and defence. Vlad Chiriches impressed me with his composure and ability to run with the ball, a little shaky at points but this is down to nerves, and I think he’s trying overly hard to impress after just coming into the team, maybe physically he needs to continue to work and get stronger as Lacina Traoré of Anzhi was a real test, although he is 6ft 8. Lewis Holtby was another top player, his creativity in the end won us the game, very important he impresses, and at this rate he deserves a place, although it is very tough competition! Jermain Defoe is one goal off Martin Chivers’ European record, maybe getting the record at White Hart Lane is destiny, got his customary goal today, and maybe should have got a couple more! Younes Kaboul looked brilliant today, so unfortunate with his injuries, I hope to God he gets fully fit and stays fit because when he is, he is my first choice centre back alongside Jan Vertonghen. One last thing, can I urge EVERYONE to give the new signings time. Erik Lamela received some extremely naive criticism, as a 21 year old who doesn’t speak any English he needs time to settle in. He will be amazing for us, in time.

A good win, another clean sheet. We now face West Ham on Sunday, 6th October in the Premier League. Our next Europa League fixture is on the 24th October away at Sherrif. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Anzhi at the Saturn Stadium:
Lloris – 8
Walker – 7
Chiriches – 8
Kaboul – 8
Fryers – 7
Sandro – 6
Dembele – 8 Man of the Match
Lamela – 6
Holtby – 8
Chadli – 7
Defoe – 6

Subs:
Dawson – 6
Sigurdsson – N/A
Eriksen – N/A

Match Review, Tottenham vs Dinamo Tbilisi. (2nd leg)

Tottenham 3-0 Dinamo Tbilisi. Aggregate: Tottenham 8-0 Dinamo Tbilisi.

Defoe 40′, Defoe 47′, Holtby 69′. (Spurs Goals)

We finished the job off in style, and have secured our place in the Europa League group stages. Dinamo Tbilisi were poor in both games, but we were completely professional, and played perfectly to win both games comfortably. We dominated the second leg completely, and went two goals ahead before half time with Defoe getting both goals. We continued our domination in the second half, and we created some good chances, and got the third goal through a stunning Lewis Holtby strike. I was really impressed with how we went about our work, and the amount of goals we scored will give us a lot of confidence going into the North London Derby.

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The whole team really impressed me. The youngsters looked very comfortable, and the likes of Sandro, Kaboul and Holtby returning from injury put in top class performances, and look fully fit for the new season. Lewis Holtby in particular really played well. A top performance, from a top prospect. I’ve always rated him, but he didn’t have a great time last season, but showed his class brilliantly against Tbilisi. An assist and his first goal for Spurs topped off a great night for Lewis. Tom Carroll was great, the young midfielder showed his vision and passing range, and put in a composed performance. Naughton was one that surprised me, he was solid at the back and my new nickname for him is ‘Mr Reliable’ as he can be used in a range of different positions, and do well. Defoe scored two goals, and is now fifth in the all time Spurs goalscoring record. A true legend at the Lane. Our next game is a massive one. The North London Derby against Arsenal, and it’s sure to be a cracker. The game is on Sunday, 1st September with kick off a 4:00pm. COYS!

My player ratings for the team that faced Dinamo Tbilisi at the Lane:
Friedel – 7
Walker – 7
Kaboul – 9
Vertonghen – 9
Naughton – 8
Townsend – 7
Sandro – 7
Carroll – 9
Sigurdsson – 6
Holtby – 9 Man of the Match
Defoe – 8

Subs:
Kane – 5
Fryers – 6
Dembele – N/A