Can Erik Lamela Revive His Career at Tottenham Under Mauricio Pochettino?

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Can Erik Lamela Revive His Career at Tottenham Under Mauricio Pochettino?
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Erik Lamela on the ball in one of his better performances of last season, Tottenham's Capital One Cup victory over Hull City.

As much as anyone, Erik Lamela will be grateful for the fresh start granted him at Tottenham Hotspur under Mauricio Pochettino.

An already tough first season in England was ended prematurely by injury last December. His career is far from the point of stagnation, but things dipped enough that he will be keen to revive his previous Roma form.

In word and deed, Lamela looks to be starting his second season at Tottenham in the manner he wishes for it to proceed.

The above sentiment is unsurprising club-related fare for a new season. But in a further interview with The Sun, via Sky Sports, Lamela went into further detail about his hopes moving forward.

"I have recovered from my injuries, we have a new manager and I cannot wait to play," the 22-year-old claimed. "I am confident you will see a much better me this season."

Lamela also spoke about the frustration caused by his injury problems. Admirably, he noted they made "me feel bad because the club had paid a lot of money for me and I wasn’t even able to get on to the pitch."

Matt Dunham/Associated Press
Injuries exacerbated Lamela's struggles breaking into the Tottenham first-team after his transfer from Roma.

Staying fit this time around—certainly heading into the season—would naturally be rather helpful as he looks build a sense of momentum.

That Lamela's attitude is good should also stand him in good stead. He appears determined to improve on his first Premier League campaign (It should be noted there were still enough encouraging moments to convince the Spurs hierarchy he was worth persevering with).

Evidence of that was seen in the 45 minutes he played in Spurs' pre-season opener, a 3-3 draw with the Seattle Sounders. He was looking to get on the ball after his introduction and run at the home side in his trademark loping, deceptive fashion.

Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
Lamela enjoyed a bright return to action for Spurs in their 3-3 draw with Seattle.

Signs of confidence were further seen in the way he hunted a loose ball in the box 57 minutes in and when he seized on a loose ball from the dispossessed Roberto Soldado and fired off a shot, though the eventual angle was a little too tight.

There was a pleasing aggression about the way Lamela searched for a way through the Seattle defence—he even got involved in a bust-up between the two teams following an incident with Soldado.

His main on-field struggle last year was handling the physical nature of Premier League defenders. Toughening up this time around will be vital. The early signs, at least, are promising.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Lamela was maneuvered or shoved off the ball too easily last season.

Lamela looks like he is doing his part in working towards a more satisfactory second year. The next big questions revolve around his new boss' plans for him.

"Pochettino ‎has held heart to heart talks with his fellow countryman and assured him he will be involved next season," wrote The Mirror's John Cross in early June. Later in the month, the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel reported "Pochettino has spoken to the Argentine to outline his vision for him in his Spurs blueprint."

The indications are Tottenham want Pochettino to try and get the best out of their £25 million-plus 2013 purchase. Sharing a language and nationality could prove helpful in terms of communication. It is certainly good for photo opportunities given the north London club's past association with Argentina.

However, it is Pochettino's belief in "attacking football"—something he made clear on Tottenham's official website right from his appointment—that will be most crucial to Lamela succeeding.

The combination of imagination and concentrated team effort which defined Southampton's best forward work under the Argentinian should suit Lamela. He needs freedom to take the game to opposition teams but, like most players, will also benefit from a degree of discipline and understanding his specific duties within the team.

Sang Tan/Associated Press
Mauricio Pochettino could prove to be the perfect manager for getting the best out of Lamela. His penchant for attacking football certainly gives the player a chance of making it in his system.

Against Seattle, Lamela was given a more central role than we have previously seen him in at Spurs. As described earlier, it certainly aided him getting involved in the game (at least for a while), though it did mean things were a little more crowded than when he played wide-right.

Deploying the Argentine on the wing with instructions to attack from there could well be part of Pochettino's vision for him. The rest of the pre-season—beginning with the Toronto game on Wednesday night—will give us a better idea of what is in store.

The real answers as to whether Lamela can thrive under Pochettino will not become clear until well into the actual 2014-15 season. The fact that all concerned parties seem invested in making things work is a good start.

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