I have been bullish about Spurs’ ability to bounce back from their sticky start thus far, for a number of reasons.
First, we are notoriously slow starters under Mauricio Pochettino, so this is nothing new.
We have also signed three key players and they have largely been injured/unavailable thus far and will take some time to adjust to the Premier League.
Thirdly, we have had rotten luck with injuries to other players and are only now starting to return to full strength.
And we are still kicking off the rust from a disappointing back end to the previous season, where, were it not for near-glory in the Champions League, there would have been various rumblings of discontent.
However, outside of my happy little bubble there are dissenting voices starting to circle around Pochettino. There is even use of a hashtag calling for him to be fired, particularly after the League Cup exit at the hands of Colchester United.
If you dig deeper it is easy to see why more trigger-happy fans are losing patience. Spurs have been ropey for the whole of 2019.
We have not been able to find a solution to life after Mousa Dembele, nor to the loss of the dynamic duo of Kyle Walker (to Man City) and Danny Rose (to injuries and The Sun newspaper), and that has culminated in some ugly football and some pretty ugly results too.
We have also failed to strengthen the squad appropriately in consecutive windows and, though we finally made the signings we had been long crying out for this summer, they could not compensate for multiple windows of inadequate squad investment. As a result, we have issues stacking up that need resolving, and some players still at the club that do not really want to be here.
And Pochettino is in a bad mood. He has become moodier as his tenure has gone on, and he has even made public statements directed towards his boss, Daniel Levy. The Argentine has made his wishes clear twice over the past couple of years.
In May 2018 he said: “If we want to be real contenders for big trophies, we need to review a little bit the thing… You need to be brave. Being brave is the most important thing and take risks. I think it’s a moment that the club needs to take risks and tries to work, if possible, harder than the previous season to be competitive again, because every season will be more difficult.”
Then, in May of this year, he said: “Now it’s about creating another chapter and to have the clear idea of how we are going to build that new project. We need to rebuild. It’s going to be painful.”
He did not get the painful rebuild he wanted. He did get some key signings, but there’s more work to do, and perhaps his bad mood is a result of work left undone.
Alongside that, he seems to have a Christian Eriksen problem, and he has already had a Jan Vertonghen problem earlier in the season too. Toby Alderweireld is the third player in the final year of his contract; another who would be almost irreplaceable at this point in time. These are vital, experienced, reliable squad players who we need to be in the right frame of mind if we are to achieve anything this season.
Pochettino’s mood has a tendency to permeate the fan base, and a few wins and a few smiles will turn the atmosphere. I have absolutely no doubt that those will come, but I must admit to being personally disappointed.
It’s my own fault.
I lulled myself into believing that our signings would transform us and that Liverpool would fall back this season – their xG numbers looked unsustainable last year. But they seem to be maintaining their outstanding form, and we are once again lagging well behind the league’s top two clubs.
That said, I am confident that we will finish third and could challenge for honours again.
Pochettino seemed a lot more chipper after going out for dinner with Daniel Levy recently. Perhaps he needs to take his squad to the Harvester for half a chicken and chips and some team bonding, because a few smiles would go a long way right now.