Sprots

Has Mauricio Pochettinos cycle at Tottenham Hotspur reached its natural conclusion?

Tottenham crashed out of the Carabao Cup with a defeat to Colchester United on Tuesday night (Picture: AFP)

There have been a number of explanations put forward to explain Tottenhams lacklustre start to the 2019-20 season.

A Champions League hangover has been cited as a factor, instability caused by the summer transfer window affected early games notably the Newcastle loss and a questionable VAR decision altered the complexion of Saturdays defeat to Leicester City.

It has also been pointed out that Mauricio Pochettinos side generally start slowly before building momentum in late Autumn.

Mitigating circumstances have been at play during the opening six-and-a-half weeks of Tottenhams season, yet how can anyone explain Tuesdays Carabao Cup defeat to Colchester United? A team currently 10th in League Two who lost 1-0 to Forest Green Rovers at the same time that Spurs put four past Crystal Palace 11 days ago.

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Anything can happen in a penalty shootout and Tottenhams spot-kick defeat isnt the real issue. What is far more concerning to Pochettino, chairman Daniel Levy and the clubs supporters is that it even got to that point in the first place.

Spurs had three times more possession of the ball than their hosts but mustered only four attempts on target, with their best opportunity coming from a shanked cross by Kyle Walker-Peters that rattled the woodwork. Otherwise, Dean Gerken in Colchesters net was barely tested.

Lucas Moura reacts after missing a penalty for Spurs against Colchester United
Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen missed during the penalty shoot-out as Spurs were beaten by Colchester United (Picture: Getty)

Lucas Moura, the man whose hat-trick inside the Amsterdam Arena five months ago represented Spurs peak under Pochettino, was rather ironically the one who missed the decisive spot-kick inside the JobServe Community Stadium, representing the nadir of Pochettinos time in charge.

Prior to Tuesday, Pochettinos record against lower league teams while in charge of Spurs read: Played 19, Won 15, Drawn four. Technically, his unbeaten record extended to 20 games with Tuesdays stalemate, yet the end result marked his first elimination against a club outside the Premier League.

It was also the sixth time in eight matches this season that Spurs failed to win a game. In 2019, Spurs have won marginally more games than theyve lost with 16 to 15. For the first time in five years, questions are being asked about whether Pochettinos time at Tottenham is approaching an endpoint.

Have stuttering Spurs gone stale?

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Over the past 10 years there have been on average 11.9 managerial changes in the Premier League per season. The days of omnipotent figureheads like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger staying at the same club for over two decades appeared consigned to history.

The average shelf life of top-flight managers is extremely limited, yet Pochettino has bucked the sacking trend with this representing his sixth season in charge of Spurs. Only Eddie Howe at Bournemouth and Sean Dyche at Burnley have lasted longer in their respective roles than the Argentine.

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Pochettinos staying power at Spurs – a club associated with managerial instability before he arrived – is a testament to the work he has done there. Securing four consecutive top-four finishes and a place in a Champions League final would have been unthinkable when he arrived from Southampton in 2014.

However, there are legitimate concerns that Spurs have gone stale under Pochettino. The verve of their play in the early Pochettino days has made way for a more measured, less enthralling style of play. The nucleus of the side has been there for four years, in some cases even longer.

Mauricio Pochettino questions his Tottenham players during their defeat to Colchester United
Mauricio Pochettino was powerless to prevent Spurs slumping to a humiliating defeat to Colchester United (Picture: Getty)

In recent weeks, parallels have been drawn with Jurgen Klopps final season at Borussia Dortmund. Like Pochettino with Spurs, BVB scaled unprecedented heights under Klopp which included a Champions League final appearance before things unravelled in his seventh and final year.

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I always said in that moment where I believe I am not the perfect coach anymore for this extraordinary club I will say so, he explained after announcing his decision to walk away. Dortmunds dalliance with the relegation zone and eventual 7th place finish in 2014-15 was seen as the end of Klopps cycle at Dortmund.

It is not hard to see why there are comparisons being drawn between Klopps Dortmund and Pochettinos Spurs. Both relied on high-energy pressing styles initially that eventually fizzled out, both relied on an established spine of players for a number of years and both endured the agony of missing out on Champions League glory.

Pochettinos accusation that his players didnt respect the plan during last weeks 2-2 draw against Olympiacos sounded very much like a manager venting his frustration at a group of players who are no longer listening to what he has to say.

Time for a painful rebuild

During Pochettinos first 18 months in English football with Southampton, he spoke exclusively through his translator. Having not yet perfected the English language, Pochettino wanted to ensure that his message was clear and his words unable to be tampered with.

From the outset at Spurs, Pochettino addressed the media in English yet any hope or expectation that he would deliver salacious soundbites were rather emphaRead More – Source

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