This summer will be a big one for Tottenham Hotspur for the men’s (when is it not?) and the women’s teams.
I’ve previously talked about Spurs’ WSL side following the defeat to Man United, and things haven’t improved.
Returning to the men’s side, it’s increasingly likely that win or lose on Wednesday (8 March) against AC Milan, Antonio Conte will be departing the club, be it health problems, personal loss or the fact we’re playing boring crap football.
It’s just a matter of time for the Italian. He’ll leave either at the end of the season or after the Champions League result on Wednesday, with the potential of former manager Mauricio Pochettino returning to the welcoming, tearful arms of Spurs supporters.
They say never go back, but the Argentine and the North London club were and are the perfect fit.
Talksport and 5Live pundits will say, “when he was last there they didn’t win anything?” My answer to that is I couldn’t care less about winning trophies.
To me, football is 90 minutes of entertainment like a movie or TV show, and once the full-time whistle is blown, I move on with my life. However, like a movie, sometimes it can stay with you and that’s what the Argentinian did during his time.
Every Tottenham fan knows Pochettino gave us some of the most entertaining football and the greatest moments that will last us a lifetime. Be it the victory against Real Madrid, the battle at the Bridge (the best game of football I watched on TV as a fan), the fightback in Amsterdam, or just the 2018/19 Champions League run to the final in general.
Those are the thing that stays with me because Leicester won the Premier League and FA Cup in recent years, but unless you’re a fan of the club, you forget about it.
What I’m getting at is I’d rather have entertaining football over what Tottenham have done recently with hiring two “winning” managers in Jose Mourinho and Conte, and the fucking dreadful football that comes with it.
So if I were chairman Daniel Levy or a board member, I’d let the Italian lead out the club against Milan at home and whatever the result, it’ll be his last with two statements ready.
On Wednesday night, after press conferences, even have Antonio lay hints during talking about reflecting on life with his health and losing his close friends, say his goodbyes in the changing room, announce Conte has left the club wishing him well as he continues his recovery.
It’d be a mixture of half-truths and horse shit, but everyone involved is covered in roses.
Then on Thursday morning, before the squad trains, have an early team meeting with Levy in attendance, being open and frank before revealing Poch to the players as he takes training.
At the same time – as Poch is talking to the players – release the second statement confirming the appointment, and everyone is focused on the next six games.
Because ultimately, this is the reason as there are no losable games. Tottenham face Nottingham Forest at home, and the atmosphere would be rocking like a Beyonce concert, before taking on Southampton, Everton, Brighton, Bournemouth and Newcastle.
It’s the perfect run of matches for the returning gaffer to lay his style, which will be pretty easy as roughly 60% of players still there played under him before the two massive back-to-back games against Man United and Liverpool.
We hope to end the season with a top-four finish.
I can see Poch returning to his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, with the starting 11 having the ability to change to a 4-1-4-1, 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-3 throughout the game. This will include club captain Hugo Lloris and Yves Bissouma, who will hopefully be fit during this time.
Lloris (c) – Emerson – Romero – Dier – Perisic – Skipp – Hojbjerg – Kulusevski – Kane – Son – Richarlison.
However, I could see Clement Lenglet playing instead of Dier at centre-back, but Poch will want to give Englishman a chance for a couple of games. As for the five subs, Arnaut Danjuma and Pedro Porro will be great players to come off the bench.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, this summer will be massive (as it always is) for the club, and it’s more about selling.
We know Lucas Moura is departing once his contract ends, with Lenglet and Danjuma returning to their parent La Liga clubs.
Elsewhere, it’s time to say thank you for being an outstanding servant to Lloris, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Then you can remove more deadwood like Davison Sanchez, Ben Davies, Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga, Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele getting moved on. Just before the window closes and with a pre-season done, Joe Rodon, Sergio Reguilon and one of Emerson Royal or Djed Spence (on loan) will also leave.
I might be in the minority, but if/when Poch takes over, I don’t see a significant squad overhaul is needed due to the young, talented players within the academy like Alfie Devine, Nile John, Tory Parrett, Dane Scarlett and Jude Soonsup-Bell, who left Chelsea’s academy in January in the hopes of first-team football at North London.
Then you’ve got first-teamers like Oliver Skipp, Papa Sarr and Bryan Gil, who could be part of our midfield for years. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarr got loaned out, as it’d be hard for him to give game time with the current depth in our central midfield. For Gil, it’ll be make or break; his game time will either increase, or it’ll best to sell.
Anyone with eyes knows a new number one is a must at White Hart Lane. I can see it being Brighton’s David Sanchez or David Raya from Brentford.
Both Spaniards will be on the radar for Chelsea, who’ll also be looking for a new goalie, and I can see the lilywhites signing one and the club that’s lucky to be around grabbing the other.
The question who would you prefer? Personally, Raya is the way I’d go.
The price will be within the same area, roughly £40 million, but his stats this season are fantastic, being ranked first in shots face, saves, saves from outside the box and long passes completed and is sixth in goals prevented.
Ideally, this is the most of our focus should be this summer, with two centre-backs the prime objective – one to start alongside Romero and another as a backup.
There are plenty of CB that fans could list, but for my starter, I’d look into the chances of getting the serves of Evan Ndicka from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Frenchman is 23 and could build a long-term partnership with the Argentine destroyer. He is left-footed and, most importantly, available on a FREE TRANSFER!
While being a bonus for the club’s wallets, it’ll be a negative as all the top clubs, including Arsenal and Barcelona, will also be looking.
The only chance for us over the other clubs would be to state to Ndicka that he’ll be a regular in the starting line-up. We’ll hopefully have Champions League to push, as well as the stadium and training ground.
If not Ndicka, I’d stay in Germany’s top league for either RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol or Bayer Leverkusen’s Piero Hincapie.
Both will cost a fortune and competition for signatures with Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea vying for the Croatian Gvardiol, so the bidding battle could seriously get out of hand.
Whereas Ecuador’s Hincapie, like Ndicka, is a young and left-footed but would have to be a quick move, so we don’t get involved in a bidding war with other top European or big six side as Newcastle are also looking at him.
As for the backup, if we can find a solid CB for £20 million, our defence would be sorted.
As mentioned above, we don’t need our midfield looked at, and the same can be said for the forward line.
However, with Marcus Thuram and Wilfred Zaha both available for a free in the summer, it’s a no-brainer to try and get one of them, and I wouldn’t have an issue with either. Yet, it’s likely bigger clubs will be in for Thuram and Zaha is on the other side of his career, so might want to look at playing football in another league.
The one attacking role the squad needs is a creative midfield. We haven’t had anyone since Christian Erikson that could break defences and take pressure off the forwards by pitching in with goals and assists.
The top name mentioned amongst the fanbase is James Maddison, but he’ll likely be a player in demand during the summer with Liverpool reportedly pushing hard with a £60 million bid, and there’s also Newcastle in the wings. This looks to be another bidding war because when adding the English tax and he is in his prime years, nothing short of £60 million would get us in the door.
According to Metro (via Blid), the alternative is the German playmaker Julian Brandt, who could be available for half the price as Borussia Dortmund might want to cash in as his contract is up in 2024.
His stats this season are similar to Maddison’s and could be available for a bargain. The minor issue is our rivals Arsenal could also be interested, but they’re well stacked in the positions the former Wolfsburg and Leverkusen midfielder play.