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Friday, 24 February 2017

Will moving to a reduced capacity help Spurs?


STADIUM TALK


The performance last night in the Europa League draw with Gent showed that we can actually play at Wembley, perhaps we are getting more used to it.

There have been some suggesting we can't play on a large pitch but several pitches in the Premier League are as large as they are allowed to be. The new White Hart Lane will be a maximum size pitch, just like Manchester City where we usually perform well.

An interesting point is that clubs like West Ham United who move into a bigger stadium struggle with playing there. Is it the size, the pressure, are the opposition more motivated or a combination of factors.

Tottenham are moving into a bigger Wembley for a season, but then we are moving to a smaller stadium, we are moving from, we hope 90,000 to 61,000, so will we be able to cope with the downsizing better than others have coped with upsizing?


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Comes to the crunch and we blow it again


EUROPA LEAGUE



Taking Gent lightly in the first leg put Tottenham out of Europe and exposed the mental flaws still prevalent within the squad.

Down to 10 men Tottenham ran the show, so why didn't they run the show with 11 men in the first leg? The timid do not lose approach, that didn't work, cost us dear. When losing the first leg we have been eliminated 7 out of the last 8 times in Europe. That statistic alone shows our mentality to these games is wrong.

I wrote before the second leg of our weakness at corners and sure enough Eric Dier backtracking couldn't get off the floor giving their unmarked played a header back across into the danger zone for Harry Kane to keep up an unwanted record. He has now scored an own goal in each of the last 4 seasons. It was Dier who got easily turned on the half-way line leaving Alderweireld to make a brilliant tackle that the referee wrongly gave a corner for, from which they scored.

The second when we were chasing the game saw Eric Dier step up to play offside and let gent through. Vertonghen had to come across and when the ball was played back across the area, Dier chested it down and then deflected the shot past Lloris. Far too many times in big games he makes costly mistakes as a centre-back. One has to make mistakes to improve and presumably Pochettino is using this season as a learning curve for him.

A record of 5 defeats in our last 6 appearances at Wembley is a far cry from the days when we were unbeaten there. A 2-2 draw doesn't really improve it much.

The main attacking outlet for Spurs was Kyle Walker, he was putting in cross after cross after cross as well as getting in a few shots of his own. None however, resulted in a goal. A defender was always getting there ahead of Kane who missed 4 crosses by feet.

Our shooting was poor, far too many time we simply blasted over the bar, even from inside the penalty box, Vertonghen didn't get a shot near goal, Eriksen was shooting over from outside the area and Walker was off target too.

Under pressure your default setting must be to be clinical, ours isn't. It is to panic and blast. While we tried hard with 10 men the bottom line is we didn't succeed.


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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Wembley 23 March


STADIUM TALK



It is pretty clear that Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games at Wembley even though it hasn't been announced yet.

First there was an outside chance that the new stadium would be built ahead of schedule, it was an incredibly long shot though and never really a realistic option. Our filling of Wembley for the European fixtures has convinced the hierarchy that simply using the lower tiers would lose out on revenue. Clearly there is the support to fill more than the 51,000 seats.

In January Tottenham supported an application from Brent Council to increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley so Tottenham could use the whole stadium, which will of course, enable the club to increase the revenue generated.

Daniel Levy had previously suggested that Tottenham wouldn't make any more money by playing games at Wembley, but with the club filling the stadium perhaps those projections were wrong.

Tottenham have until the end of March to inform Wembley National Stadium Limited that we will be using the facility and will learn on 23 March whether we can use the full capacity. Confirmation looks a foregone conclusion.


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Spurs still tracking Polish international


TRANSFER TALK


When we were first linked with him, Spurs fans asked, who. Most had never heard of him and questioned why we were watching him.

The man in question is 22-year-old (23 next February) Polish international Karol Linetty. He is currently a central midfielder with Sampdoria in the Italian Serie A. He is right-footed and under contract until 2021.

When we were first linked though he was playing for Lech Poznan in Poland. Since then he played another season in Poland and then moved to Italy on 29 July 2016 for £2.72 million (€3.22m - AUS$4.41m - US$3.40).

Linetty has been a big hit for Sampdoria stepping up a grade of football and is attracting the interest again from bigger clubs. German side Borussia Dortmund, Italians AS Roma and Everton are all watching him and Tottenham too have continued to track his progress. 

The story originates from Italian media outlet  TMW.


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Why would Isco choose Spurs?


TRANSFER TALK


At the merest hint that Isco might leave Real Madrid our press go into overdrive and should clubs have been 'alerted' or some drama has taken place when in reality nothing has happened and nothing has changed.

Isco has always said he will make a decision over his future at the end of the season and part of the criteria of his decision will be the amount of minutes he gets to play and naturally, the matches he plays in. Does he play in the major matches, he'll want to know where he stands.

The press have been pushing Spurs as a destination, but they aren't looking at the issue through the eyes of Isco himself. Why would he come to Spurs? To be a part of a project and help develop a young team? He will only do that I would have thought is he feels we will be guaranteed UEFA Champions League football each season and if we can win trophies regularly.

He could get that at Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSG, even Manchester United still holds a pull because of their financial muscle and have a decent manager in Jose Mourinho. Barcelona have made noises that they would like him and they do ned to refresh their ageing midfield. To get him to come to Spurs is a real tough ask.

We have an exciting new stadium being built, but other clubs have big stadiums, he has played in huge stadiums, I don't see a stadium being a pull. It has been reported that Mauricio Pochettino spoke to him several times on the phone last summer, trying to convince him Spurs was a project he should join.

The Spanish international will be watching our progress no doubt so the fact we are in the top four is good news, we are still in the FA Cup, again good news, but we went out of the Champions League early which must surely count against us. Teams who drop out of the Champions League win the Europa League so we need to at least be making the final to raise our European profile further.

If we see ourselves as a big club and expect others to see us as a big club then we must be getting to finals and then winning trophies. The FA Cup and the Europa League are important to us this season. We need to show we can compete on more than one front, it's what big clubs do.


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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The magic of the FA Cup


FA CUP

Millwall keeper Leslie punches clear from Alan Gilzean

The FA Cup draw has handed us with an excellent chance of making the semi-finals if we take the competition seriously.

The semi-final may well see four of the top five or six teams in the country going through to the next round which will be a sponsors dream for the interest it will generate. The cup has seen some of the magic return this year with the exploits of lower league teams and especially the non-league boys of Lincoln City.

Being the first team since 1914 to get to the quarter-finals, it reminds me of the only team to have won the FA Cup as a non-league side, Tottenham Hotspur. I think that record is safe though.

The Tottenham victory happened in 1900/01 when we were a Southern League club beating Sheffield United in the final 3-1 after a replay. The first game finished 2-2.

On the way we beat Preston North End (1-1, 2-4), Bury (2-1), Reading (1-1, 3-0), WBA (4-0) and Sheffield United.

The Millwall tie at White Hart Lane is on Sunday 12 March at 2pm and will be shown live on BBC1.


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Spurs looking at midfield options


TRANSFER TALK


Our midfield has undergone somewhat of a change in personnel since Mauricio Pochettino took over at White Hart Lane. We lacked the steel in midfield that we now have.

Alex Pritchard, Ryan Mason, Tom Carroll, Paulinho, Lewis Holtby, Nabil Bentaleb, Etienne Capoue, Benjamin Stanbouli, Jake Livermore, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sandro have all left or are leaving. That's a whole team.

The most notable introductions have been Victor Wanyama and the development of Harry Winks, who continues to look like just the sort of midfield player we need and he has cost us nothing.

It is general to have three players for each position. We can provide that with versatile players, but if say Eric Dier is wanted in defence and there is an injury to a crucial midfield player, Wanyama say, then our resources could become stretched.

Mousa Dembele plays a slightly different role to that of Wanyama and we seem to have been looking for players for both roles. Of the players we were linked with listed below, two stand out, 19-year-old (20 in May) Youri Tielemans at Anderlecht and 18-year-old (19 in November) Leo Da Silva Lopes at Peterborough.

The latest reports are that we are in pole position to sign Tielemans, but these things can change every few days and are only a reporters guesswork usually. The list will no doubt grow before the summer.

Players Linked in January
Defensive Midfield
Leandro Paredes - 22 
Steven N'Zonzi - 28
Franck Kessie - 20

Central Midfield
Youri Tielemans - 19 
Leo Da Silva Lopes - 18
Riechedly Bazoer - 20
Marcelo Brozovic - 24



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Rose, Lamela, Edwards miss training


UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Tottenham Hotspur players resumed training today ahead of the UEFA Europa League tie against Gent at Wembley stadium tomorrow.

Absent from first-team training were Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Marcus Edwards putting their selection in doubt for the game where we must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first-leg.

There should be a capacity crowd to cheer the side on with Wembley being sold out again for the game.


Unfortunately Tottenham have not convinced at our temporary home and ahead of next season we really need to start showing that the place is more like home than we have shown so far. We lost against Monaco, we lost against Bayer Leverkusen before beating a pathetic CSKA Moscow side going into their winter break 3-1.

Having dropped into the UEFA Europa League the players did what we have seen before from Spurs, they weren't motivated enough for the game, they simply didn't see it as a big game. Mouse Dembele admitted as much when he said Spurs underestimated them. That is the wrong mental attitude and it's frustrating that we still see it.

Now we have to score two goals without reply and put our a strong enough side to achieve that ahead of an important game against Stoke City in the Premier League on Sunday.


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Is Bruma another Depay?


TRANSFER TALK

Is-Bruma-another-Depay?

Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with and made an offer for 22-year-old (23 in October) Portuguese winger Bruma, currently at Turkish club Galatasaray.

Turkish Football report from Galatasaray sporting director Levent Nazifoglu that Bruma wants to join one of the wealthiest clubs, although the Spanish clubs haven't shown any interest in him from what I gather.

“He has said he wants to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid. Bruma aims to play for Manchester United but if he wants to, he must change certain things."

You have to wonder about his mentality. Look at Memphis Depay whose ego believed he would be one of the best footballers in the world and yet when he came to the Premier League with Manchester United he couldn't hack it under more than one manager.

Many, many players move for money. Is his desire to join one of those three clubs for the wages or is he a player where that is immaterial to him? Turkish football is second division, a place you go when nobody else will have you, a place you go because of the tax advantages. So did he go there for money?

You need to establish his motivation before taking the plunge. From the outside we don't know and if it is money he isn't going to tell you that so his actions need to be analysed, not just his football. Finding out the real reason he went to Turkey may help unlock that.


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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Player linked has the Premier League experience Pochettino liks


TRANSFER TALK


The next piece of transfer talk is the Daily Star report about our apparent interest in 23-year-old (24 in March) Hull City youngster Harry Maguire.

The Hull Daily Mail report that centre-back Maguire has been linked with Everton, West Ham United and Southampton, unsurprising given his contract situation. In the summer he will only have a year left on his contract and Hull can't afford to let him leave a year later for nothing. They have to get him to sign a new contract or they will be forced to sell at a reduced fee.

The power is all with the player at this point and he and his agent can decide to wait a season and get a bigger signing on fee, stay or force the club to sell him this summer. Apart from offering a contract there is little Hull can do.

Neill Collins was Maguire's centre-back partner for Sheffield United from 2011 to 2014 and he thought his partner was the strongest player he had seen. That would explain why he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet at Hull. He has taken to Premier League football with aplomb.

You have to wonder though, playing regularly, would he be happy as a back-up to our first choice pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. he certainly has the Premier League experience that Pochettino prefers.


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