10 Key Issues for Mauricio Pochettino to Address at Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur last week appointed Mauricio Pochettino with the aim of returning the club to the top four of the Premier League.
Since finishing fourth in the 2011-12 season, Tottenham have experienced a gentle and frustrating decline, falling to fifth in 2012-13 and sixth last season.
What are the 10 key issues the former Southampton manager will have to address at White Hart Lane this summer?
Get Roberto Soldado Back in the Goals
After scoring 81 goals in three seasons at Valencia, Tottenham were expecting great things from Roberto Soldado.
It was hoped the Spaniard would be the prolific striker they needed to lift them in to the top four of the Premier League, but Soldado never looked comfortable at White Hart Lane and managed just six goals in 28 league games.
Pochettino needs to decide whether he will be patient with Soldado or ship him out and seek a replacement.
Get the Tottenham Squad to Follow His Methods
At Southampton, Pochettino got his squad to buy into his methods, which involved double training sessions and plenty of hard running.
He knew he needed his players fit to play his possession game and be able to press high up the pitch when they didn’t have the ball.
At White Hart Lane, Pochettino must win over the egos within the Tottenham squad and get them to immediately follow him.
Continue to Promote Youth
Tottenham have too often plunged in to the transfer market for new players rather than promoting from their youth sides.
Pochettino’s predecessor Tim Sherwood sought to change that in his brief time in charge by giving more playing time to players like Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb.
The young pair showed they had potential and Pochettino, a keen advocate of using young players at St Mary’s, needs to continue to show faith in Tottenham's young players.
Keep Hold of Hugo Lloris
As reported in The Daily Mail last week, Tottenham’s French goalkeeper was distinctly non-committal when he was asked where he would be playing next season.
“My future? It's a good question. I want to concentrate on the World Cup and deal with my future after,” he said.
Lloris was frustrated at Tottenham’s failure to reach the Champions League last season, but it is essential Pochettino holds on to him.
The French keeper is a world-class talent—arguably the best in his position in the Premier League—and should be the foundation on which to build this new era.
Spend Wisely in the Transfer Market
Pochettino’s success at Southampton was largely based on players he inherited from his predecessor, Nigel Adkins.
Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert were all already on the books when he arrived in January 2013.
When the Argentine was trusted with the Southampton cheque book and brought in his own players, however, his record was patchy.
The club’s record signing, Dani Osvaldo, scored just three goals in 13 games before being loaned out to Juventus in January, while Victor Wanyana has yet to really live up to his £12 million transfer fee.
After Tottenham’s own disastrous record in the transfer window last summer, Pochettino has to spend more wisely this time around.
Help Erik Lamela Fulfil His Immense Potential
Tottenham have had a poor return on the club-record £30 million fee they spent on Argentine winger Erik Lamela last summer.
So far, a series of niggling injuries and a failure to adapt to the game in England has seen Lamela make just nine appearances in the Premier League.
It might be simplistic view, but it is hoped a fellow Argentine will be able to coax the best out of Lamela at Tottenham.
If Pochettino can manage that alone, he will have proven to be an astute appointment by Tottenham.
Develop a Strong Relationship with Daniel Levy
Pochettino is the eighth manager the Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has appointed in his thirteen years at White Hart Lane.
It is a record that has earned Levy an unwanted reputation for impatience and rashness.
Pochettino will ultimately be judged on results, but it is imperative he also builds a strong relationship with his chairman.
The Argentine needs to form this bond to keep Levy onside and encourage him to buy in to what he wants to achieve at the club because it could buy some additional time if things don't go immediately to plan.
Does He Need to Change His Style of Play?
Does Pochettino have the personnel at Tottenham to replicate his successful style of play from Southampton?
At first glance, the answer would appear to be no.
At St Mary’s, Pochettino liked his forward players to be in constant motion and press for the ball high up the pitch.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Co. are highly unlikely to be able to play like that.
Does Pochettino make wholesale changes up front, or does he create a new approach to suit these players?
Who Plays in Central Midfield?
Last season no player at Tottenham did enough to make the central midfield positions their own.
Paulinho started well but tailed off later in the season. Mousa Dembele also started well at Spurs in his first season after arriving in the summer of 2012, but while good on the ball, does he have enough energy and dynamism for a Pochettino midfield?
Another midfielder who started well at White Hart Lane is Sandro, but the Brazilian fell out of favour with Tim Sherwood last season.
There are plenty of other options, with Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Nabil Bentaleb and Gylfi Sigurdsson, as well as Jake Livermore and Lewis Holtby, who both return from loan spells this summer, but first Pochettino must decide who he trusts the most.
Develop a Working Relationship with Franco Baldini
The relationship between a manager and a technical director is an obvious fault line running through a club.
Pochettino has to develop a close working relationship with the man directly above him at Tottenham: Franco Baldini.
The Italian is in charge of the players Tottenham will recruit in the transfer window, so Pochettino must make sure he gets who he wants rather than being lumbered with players unsuited to his systems.