Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

13 Could Be Unlucky for Pochettino Next Season

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

13 Could Be Unlucky for Pochettino Next Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

TOTTENHAM 1 SOUTHAMPTON 2 THE problem with relying heavily on a group of key players is working out what to do when some are not around.

Next season, Tottenham will be expected to challenge for the title and hold their own in the Champions League. To do so, they will require more than just 14 or 15 footballers who have the complete trust of Mauricio Pochettino. Tottenham probably need about 20 men who can slot in at any time, with little discernible difference to the quality of the team.

Anyone who has watched Spurs regularly can name Pochettino's preferred XI. Within his squad, a mere 13 have started more than 10 League games. Such consistency of selection has clear benefits, yet what happens to those who have to settle for the odd substitute appearance? Those players need to know that, if they train well, they have a chance of starting the biggest matches, even if all their colleagues are fit. If they suspect the coach will always rely on the same men, their level of intensity in training may drop and when called upon, it is then difficult to perform to their full potential.

On March 17, Borussia Dortmund arrived at the Lane, won 2-1 and completed a 5-1 aggregate victory to send Tottenham out of the Europa League. Spurs were left with a single objective: the Premier League title. Pochettino's response was perfectly understandable. With such a prize to chase, virtually every manager would try to choose his strongest XI every week. In the six games since Dortmund, he has started with just 14 different players. Only one of those changes Jan Vertonghen for Kevin Wimmer involved omitting a player who was healthy and available. Heung-Min Son who opened the scoring yesterday replaced the injured Erik Lamela for the 1-1 draw at Liverpool and stepped in at Chelsea last week when Dele Alli began a ban. Ryan Mason replaced the suspended Mousa Dembele against Southampton yesterday.

Some coaches tweak their selections based on the strengths or weaknesses of the opposition. Others stick largely to the same men and the same principles, believing that if their players carry out their instructions, they will win. …

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