It took the visit of Pochettino’s previous club, Southampton, to finally start to see what Pochettino is trying to achieve at his new club.
After weeks of being told what Pochettino wants his Spurs side to do while watching games that in no way resembled this philosophy this visit of Southampton to The Lane brought it back. We’d seen it in bits here and there, home to QPR away to Sunderland, but then that was against one team who haven’t bothered all season and another who picked up their first league win at the weekend.
From the off it was a different Spurs to what has gone over the last few games. The pathetic home performance, if you can call it a performance, against West Brom and the limp nothing display at the scum which far too many talked up.
Pace, pressing, passing and movement. It was all there after weeks of it being AWOL. And it all made things easier to watch and a somewhat more entertaining afternoon.
Of course it wasn’t perfect, some wrong selections, some sloppy passing, some crazy defending and Southampton weren’t exactly just going to turn up at their old bosses new gaff to roll over.
But if this is the path Pochettino wants to tread at Spurs, it looks a lot better than what we’ve seen of late. Because Spurs have to play this way, play like they have been, lazy, meandering rubbish and they’re lost.
Of course not all can do it. No matter how much the dolts on Match of the Day 2 talk up Adebayor – and shouldn’t Trevor Sinclair be given English lessons before being employed on British telly – yes he played a part in the goal and ran once for Chadli’s shot that hit the post but his lazy offsides, his useless first touch and his can only be arsed when he wants attitude is going to let the side down more than he’ll provide a telling contribution.
Pochettino has addressed one position that wasn’t working out in replacing Bentaleb with Mason. Finally there’s something coming from the middle of the park, something creative not something that’s being passed back.
There was also a silver lining when Naughton went off after a nasty challenge that very easily could have seen red for Bertrand – saying that for a silver lining there has to be a cloud but if Naughton is out for a while there’s no cloud in sight. Especially after he nearly gifted Southampton an early goal.
Back to Mason, with him providing something from the middle it’s not all on the three ahead of him, behind Adebayor. Eriksen, Chadli and Lamela are starting to link up and interchange – what term did Sinclair use? – in a far more cohesive manner. Yes Lamela was off a bit in the first half – but then Chadli was being accused of not being involved while he had the same amount of touches as the rest – and Erik had that one pass, with his shoulder.
Chadli, another contribution, this time an assist from a lovely little ball to Eriksen who had another pop at goal and this time scored, after the visitor’s ‘keeper muffed his first attempt. He is someone you think should have more shots, more goals to his name, much like Modric during his day.
Chadli could have added that second which would have made things a bit easier but hit the post and that had ominous overtures how many times have Spurs been cruising, hit the woodwork only for an equaliser to follow very shortly after.
Surprisingly it didn’t really come. They had one real chance near the end of the half via a free-kick, brilliantly, saved by Lloris.
Into the second half some were saying that Kaboul should have seen red after he was penalised and given a yellow – for what wasn’t actually a foul, shoulder to shoulder is still legit even when it’s big man versus little man and the latter goes flying – and was the last man. Well last man doesn’t count any more, nowhere in the laws of the game.
Second half saw the Spurs’ intensity drop off, going more for the counter attacking game. Well it hadn’t really worked before and it was giving Southampton more and more chance to get that equaliser. Not a side that needs encouraging. Lloris again was saving the day.
Late in the second half the commentator mentioned Vertonghen and I tweeted that I’d almost forgot he was playing. A quiet performance where he basically just negated Pelle presence even with Southampton in the ascendancy.
Pochettino needed to make some changes, Adebayor needed replaced with either Keane or Soldado, some fresh legs. He made one change which for once wasn’t a complete head scratcher with Dembele introduced for Eriksen. Kane eventually appeared but it was too late.
In the dying seconds that equaliser could have come, should have come, when Bertrand’s cross from their left was expertly Adebayored by Mané six yards out in the middle of the goal. Pretty sure if ‘Arry Redknapp was his manager he would have been told Sandra would have scored that.
So in the end they Spurs got away with it. It was a win, finally three points, it was a clean sheet and they’d shown what Pochettino wants more than in previous outings, it had worked until they stopped doing it. And entertained while they did. It’s a good start you just wonder why they couldn’t have done it against West Brom, who were ripe for a beating and when they pressed ARSEnal the once it created a goal.