Tottenham in 2014/15 – patience required for Pochettino magic

Read Swansea in 2014/15 – New defenders needed to Jack up Monk’s squad

Read West Brom in 2014/15 – Baggies must rise from ashes of near-disaster

For Spurs, last season was about readjusting to life without world record departure Gareth Bale and bedding in the new recruits brought in using the £82.7m revenue. By the time Andre Villas Boas was sacked in December, the Portuguese had only lost five games all season, winning eight and drawing three. But it was perhaps the manner of the defeats against West Ham (3-0), Man City (6-0) and Liverpool (5-0) that irked Daniel Levy the most.

In came former midfielder Tim Sherwood who would be only, as many suspected, an interim manager, who would be tasked with steering the ship on course for Europe. Sherwood performed remarkably well, if not coming across as a little ‘opinionated’ in the media, winning 13 of his remaining 22 matches.

That’s more than could be said for many of the big money signings bought to replace the impact of the former Welsh no. 11. Erik Lamela struggled for fitness, while Robert Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue all found adjusting to a new country and a new league difficult. Christian Eriksen and Paulinho did show flashes of their potential throughout the campaign, and the board must surely have been pleased with a sixth place finish given the managerial change the day after that mauling from Suarez’s Liverpool.

Aims for the season ahead

If last season was regarded as a transition year, this season must be viewed in a similar vein. Mauricio Pochettino worked wonders after taking over Nigel Adkins at Southampton, but he now finds himself on a bigger stage and will be under obvious pressure to repeat the feat with more resource and with a European adventure to contend with. He has already replenished his defence with the likes of Ben Davies and Michel Vorm from Swansea, while recruiting highly-rated England U21 defender Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon and USA right back DeAndre Yedlin.

Instilling his philosophy on a group of players who have experienced a high managerial turnover in recent years won’t be easy and it will take time to find cohesion. Fans must be patient, although it will undoubtedly be expected that the Argentine lead Tottenham to another European place, and with the squad he possesses, this should be achievable, without or without the acquisitions of alleged targets Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez. I think Pochettino can be a very good fit at White Hart Lane and he may even be the man to bring the best out of Erik Lamela, who, at his best, can bring goals and creativity.

Key summer signing so far

Ben Davies. The young Welshman took his chance at Swansea when their other impressive left back Neil Taylor suffered a serious injury, and since then has never looked back. Spurs had been lacking an out-and-out left back with real defensive quality, with the more attacking Danny Rose and preferred centre back Jan Vertonghen sharing duties last season.

Comparing the new signing to the Englsihman and the Belgian, Davies outperformed his new colleagues last season in categories such as tackles won, interceptions, chances created, blocks and he made no errors that led to goals, unlike Rose and Vertonghen. He failed to feature in only four Premier League fixtures and at such a young age can develop at a much faster rate, surrounded by a squad with more international quality than Swansea currently possess. Pochettino has a track record of giving youth a chance, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he threw Davies into the deep end straight away. Having said that, Spurs’ squad has enough depth to make the new £11m man work for that starting berth.

Predicted finish: 6th

The new manager made an almost instant impact at St Mary’s when he first arrived in England and I expect he can remind us all again why we rate him so highly, even if it takes him a little longer this time around. When a manager has a clear tactical vision, it is much easier for players to buy into such clarity and everyone starts with a clean slate.

The newly refreshed Spurs squad can push on next season, and challenge Liverpool all the way for that 5th place, although they may need to find a new striker if Roberto Soldado is shipped off back to Spain and the right recruit could make the difference in what promises to be an extremely competitive top six this season.

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