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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

VIDEO: The rise of Erik Lamela

Erik Lamela is drawing praise from all quarters. After spending two years pining for Italy and wanting to go back to familiar territory where he has happy memories he now looks as if he has a new determination to make a success of his time at White Hart Lane.

Now he seems incredibly happy, clearly he gets on well with the others in the youthful set-up Mauricio Pochettino has created at Spurs and the head coach likes to stay close to his players. That can only help his fellow Argentinian.

Pochettino is friendly and kind, but if you step out of line then he isn't afraid to dispense strong discipline. If you are a disruptive influence you are isolated, left out of squads and out of his 'inner circle' as some former player put it.

When that happens, when you appear to have little future you have to make one of two choices, you can moan leave or take responsibility and do more to achieve what the coach wants. Erik Lamela and Mousa Dembele have clearly taken the latter route, Etienne Capoue for example, took the former.

Players come into training every day, the head coach sees them every day and so it is in training that a player must show his new found commitment. Going through the motions isn't an option, you'll win nothing if you want an easy life so you have no place at a club that wants to improve.

Changing a mindset isn't easy, it isn't just like flicking a light switch, we can all determine to do something but unless we truly believe in it then the results will be less than inspiring. For Lamela to make a success of his new attitude he has had to totally buy into what Pochettino is doing, he has had to release the doubts, release the sickness for Italy, release the negativity and take a positive outlook.

He is now winning over fans, journalists and former players now earning their living as TV experts. The last group know what it takes, they have been there and done it, so when they start to see the improvement in him and no longer class him as a waste of money you know he truly has made progress.

Mauricio Pochettino can't do what many Spurs fans do, see a player through rose tinted spectacles. Yes he can take note of potential, at the end of the day though it is outcome that matters. A player has to show his ability within the team ethic, the team comes first, the player second.

Lamela has taken a step forward, he is working hard for the team without the ball, as you can see from his individual highlights video below. That is a basic, every player should be doing that, again though there are two levels of it, one going through the motions, the other with gusto, the option Lamela has chosen. Once again that suggests a determination to succeed.

Simply putting in effort is not enough though, he has had to find a way to make his mark which he has been doing. That means any lack of confidence or doubt has had to go out the window. Now he is trying things while in a positive confident frame of mind and that is when successes happen because each act has that extra edge only confidence can bring.

Many fans moaned when he missed chance after chance this season in the UEFA Europa League tie against FC Quarabag before scoring. The important factor was that he was putting himself in the positions to score or fail which he hadn't been doing in the previous two years.

I noted his running central into the box to always be looking for a goal, again largely unheard of in the previous two years. Now you see him central where he can make a difference regularly, you see him run at defenders and play on the edge of the box, compare that to where you see Andros Townsend play, how often do you see him central on the edge of the box looking for a pass when he cuts in?

This season Erik Lamela has been looking to contribute, for himself, for the team. Andros Townsend is looking to compete for himself, he doesn't yet seem to have grasped how to contribute for the team benefit. He needs to look at Lamela and what he is doing to draw lessons from him.

I didn't think I'd be saying that having watched Lamela flounder for two years.

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