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A key reason for Tottenham’s success this season

Despite a frustrating 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle at the weekend, it has been an overwhelmingly positive season for Tottenham so far.

A stretch of 14 matches unbeaten in the Premier League can used to suggest that Mauricio Pochettino’s side will be more resilient this term, while the forging of a collective team spirit is evident on the pitch.

With a young and able squad at the Argentine’s disposal, there is every reason to believe that the North London outfit can finally ditch the nearleymen tag and finish in the top four this term.

However, a key reason for Spurs’ stellar showings this season has been Pochettino’s focus on group fitness and the subsequent attributes that this offers Tottenham as a team.

The former Southampton trainer prioritised football training drills in the off-season to have his young side capable of lots of running, which has helped him to install his philosophy at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur

Pochettino urges his side to press the opposition high up the pitch, with the dual benefit of stalling the opposition’s attacking play and winning back possession in dangerous areas.

This tactic was deployed last season but not all the players bought into it; this campaign has been a different story, with the strikers and midfielders getting through their lion’s share of work in every game thanks to bolstered fitness.

The Newcastle game aside, it has been evident that Tottenham have had running in the tank late in Premier League games this season, which has helped the energetic and youthful side win points.

Participation in the Europa League and the subsequent increase in fixtures also means that Pochettino needs a squad with high fitness levels.

Over recent campaigns Spurs have had poor results in the Premier League games directly after European action, but this had improved this season before the defeat at the hands of Steve McClaren’s men.

The focus on endurance training has this Tottenham team as a mobile and persistent opponent, with the fans respecting the fact that the players will work to their maximum for 90 minutes and outrun the opposition.

Pochettino’s tactics can be successful but they are also draining, which was proved last year as North London side ran out of steam to some degree towards the business end of the campaign.

With a manic festive season schedule on the way and cup competitions ramping up, Spurs’ collective endeavour and desire is set to be put to the test, but their impressive levels of fitness can only be seen as a positive in the hunt for success.

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Do Tottenham now regret sacking Harry Redknapp?

With Tottenham seemingly no closer to attaining a place as a regular Premier League top-four finisher, there is just cause to look back at where it has went wrong over the last couple of seasons.

The days when the north London outfit were beating Serie A giants Inter and AC Milan in the Champions League now feel like an eternity ago, with the current crop of Spurs players stuttering at the start of 2014-15.

Harry Redknapp was the man responsible for leading Tottenham to the Champions League and oversaw two fourth-placed finishes in his three-year tenure at White Hart Lane.

However, due to the ongoing ambition of the club, the now QPR boss was shown the door in the summer of 2012 for not delivering inclusion to Europe’s top club tournament.

Given that Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood have failed to inspire the required confidence to be deemed as the man to take the club forward and Mauricio Pochettino is already feeling the heat, does Daniel Levy regret getting rid of Redknapp?

Harry Redknapp

There is no doubt that Pochettino is a young manger of ability, displayed for all to see during his time at Southampton, but he needs to be given time at the club; there will most likely need to be steps back before progression can be made.

That said, Spurs have stagnated and made little progress since the departure of Redknapp and have been experiencing the consequences of too much ambition and impetuousness for the last two years.

Although not the man to great a Sir Alex Ferguson-like legacy at Spurs, it would be very interesting to see how the club would be currently sitting if Redknapp had been given more time back in 2012.

Adebayor’s comments not helpful as Tottenham toil

It has been another underwhelming start to the season for the White Hart Lane faithful. With a new manager and a couple of initial positive results, hopes were raised sky high that a consistent challenge for the top four might be put forward by Tottenham this season.

Unfortunately for Spurs fans the honeymoon period under Mauricio Pochettino has finished and the hard reality is that the North London club are not showing the form needed to go toe-to-toe with the Premier League’s best teams.

Like last term, home form has been a major issue, with Tottenham struggling to win games that a team with ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League should be winning.

The latest setback came on Sunday as Stoke beat Spurs 2-1 at White Hart Lane; the most disappointing thing for the home support was a lack of energy, some chaotic defending and not many chances to get back into the game.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor has spoken up about the stale atmosphere at the North London club following defeat to the Potters and admitted that a number of the players would prefer to play away from home than face the expectation of the White Hart Lane faithful.

Although things are far from ideal for Tottenham currently, comments in the media that can be perceived negatively are the last thing that the club needs and especially from a player that is underperforming.

Outspoken, controversial but at times brilliant, Adebayor epitomised the lack of urgency in the Tottenham camp on Sunday when it took him a number of minutes to get his boots on to come off the bench in the second half.

However, instead of making his thoughts on matters known the Togolese forward would be best applying himself fully on the pitch, like he did when he whilst on loan and looking for a permanent move to the club, and leaving talking to his manager.

Real Madrid, Gareth Bale and why it’s not just about the football

At the Santiago Bernabeu, the stage is literally set for what could be the unveiling of the world’s most-expensive footballer. Gareth Bale’s proposed move from Tottenham to Real Madrid has understandably monopolised recent back pages as fans await the conclusion of a transfer saga that has left many questioning the financial implications of the reported £85 million deal.

Aside from the moral qualms many have about such an astronomical figure, most fans have been left querying whether Bale is worth the record-breaking fee. The Welshman is a phenomenal footballer on a par with other Premier League heavyweights; Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Yet these players aren’t nearly attracting the astronomical figures to their names as Bale. Robin van Persie, last season’s top goalscorer, was bought for a measly £22.5 million last year. One of the finest all-round English players of the last decade, Wayne Rooney, was only recently valued at a mere £25 million by Chelsea. Luis Suarez, scorer of 30 goals last season, has attracted massive offers from Arsenal but that famous 40 million and a one pound pales in comparison to the reported Bale fee.

The residing question then is this: what exactly are Madrid up to? Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a superb footballer. Not even the most ardent of Arsenal fans would question that. For club and country, the midfielder scored 31 goals last term. He single-handedly won games for his team in sublime fashion on more than a handful of occasions. These are facts that nobody can deny. They are also facts that fans of Manchester United (Rooney and van Persie) and Liverpool can boast of their stars yet no record transfer fee hangs over the heads of these players. Real Madrid president Florentine Perez obviously sees value in the Welshman and is willing to part with £85 million to prove it.

Real Madrid are no strangers to blockbuster signings. In 2001 it was Zinedine Zidane (a then world record £45.6 million). In 2009, it was Kaka (another world record of around £56m) and then Cristiano Ronaldo (yet another world record fee of £80 million). At a cheaper, but no less significant, level they signed David Beckham from Manchester United in 2003 for £24.5 million.

Real Madrid is unashamedly a brand and each of the players mentioned slotted perfectly into the on-going mission to solidify the Galácticos as the largest global brand in football. Through sponsorships and worldwide touring Madrid have become the most recognised football club on the planet.

Gareth Bale

With Beckham they acquired Europe’s most valuable sporting personality. From the very beginning of his Spanish adventure David Beckham was helping his new club recoup the money they had dished out on him – even his medical was sponsored by a health-care firm. Add this to multi-million pound Adidas deal to match Madrid’s and a merchandising agreement that reportedly had Beckham handing 50% of his personal sponsorship earnings to Madrid then it is safe to say that the Spanish giants have an idea of how to spend money to make money.

‘Brand Madrid’ seek players that are able to enhance not just their on-field success but also that off it. Jose Mourinho’s managerial credentials need no clarification yet he was considered surplus to requirements at Madrid as his controversial antics were just not in keeping with the angelic sheen of the nine-time European Cup winners. When Mourinho was seen to poke then Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye the Spanish press called it ‘deplorable’. Not an image football’s biggest commercial club wished to convey.

Madrid were often linked to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez this summer, a player with statistics that at times outshine Bale’s, yet this interest never gathered any momentum and it can only be assumed that this is down to the tainted image of the Uruguayan. Like Mourinho, Suarez is capable of too much brand-damaging controversy to justify spending such amounts of money regardless of his talent.

Just a quick glance at Real Madrid’s history of signings provides a clearer picture of why they are willing to spend such an enormous amount on a clean-cut, fresh faced, superstar in the making. In Bale, Madrid have a young star in the making that they will be able to mould and shape to fit their own needs. In Madrid, Bale has a platform to expand his own brand. It was not so long that it was revealed Bale was attempting to trademark his heart-shaped goal celebration – he is clearly aware of the benefits of building his own brand beyond the game and the benefits of a Madrid move will not be lost on the 24-year-old.

Even on a brand-building level, Bale at such a price will still be seen as a gamble for Madrid. Unlike, Zidane, Kaka, Ronaldo or Beckham, he is not a pre-packaged global star just waiting to become a shirt-selling machine. He doesn’t yet transcend sport like, say, Beckham did. The more cynical of supporters will assume the long drawn-out pursuit of Bale by Madrid is merely a clever marketing ploy to allow the world time to catch up and get to know the world’s most expensive footballer-elect before the eventual finalities are complete.

Simply by being attached to such lucrative and high-profile transfers in recent history, Real Madrid have ensured their names in both the history books and newspapers all around the world; the Gareth Bale situation is no different. Madrid are being talked about by football fans and non-fans alike the world over, and that is just the way the like it as the brand continues to flourish with the latest star commodity preparing his keepy-up skills for the big Bernabeu reveal.

by Jack Poland

Hulk not going to Tottenham – good for both parties

With a replacement for Gareth Bale on the top of Tottenham’s transfer list, the north London club have been linked with a move for Zenit St Petersburg attacker Hulk. Andre Villas-Boas knows the Brazil international well from their joint time at Porto, and is being rumoured to be keen to sign the South American after missing out on Willian.

However, the powers that be at the Russian club have ensured their fans that the attacker is not for sale and will not be moving to north London. Despite this meaning that one more potential high-profile target is not available, the news could well be a blessing in disguise for Spurs.

Hulk

Although Hulk is a talented and able player, he is not the player that Tottenham need. Spurs need a creative player to create chances for Roberto Soldado – Hulk is not that player. Someone like Christian Eriksen is a more suitable option for the White Hart Lane side and would be a much more affordable player. Even so it may be worth checking the odds at bwin when the January window opens as he will most likely be on the move around that time.

Hulk’s goalscoring record for a forward is not overly impressive and Spurs would be paying over the odds for a player who built his reputation on one strong season at Porto.

Etienne Capoue can be Tottenham’s Vieira

For all the transfer talk around Tottenham this summer, one understated piece of business could well be decisive in the north London club’s attempts to make the top four. Although the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli will all add quality to the Tottenham squad, the acquisition of Etienne Capoue could well be the signing of the season.

The France international came off the bench against Crystal Palace and started against Swansea, and it was immediately apparent why the club has signed him from Toulouse. Capoue’s tireless work rate, dedication and persistence were a breath of fresh air and will give the Spurs back four reprieve this term.

Etienne Capoue

His physical attributes are not dissimilar to Patrick Vieira in his prime. Capoue skips across the ground and seemed to dominate a Swansea midfield used to having the lion’s share of possession with his stature.

A very encouraging start to the campaign for Capoue, who could be a real star for Tottenham this season.

Paulinho’s signature an exciting one for Tottenham fans

Brazil international midfielder Paulinho has today revealed that the rumours are true, and he has agreed to sign for Tottenham ahead of next season. The South American box-to-box midfielder will move to White Hart Lane in a £17 million deal, and will provide competition with the likes of Mousa Dembele and countryman Sandro in the heart of the Spurs team. Despite the fact that the Corinthians man will add quality to the Tottenham squad, the most exciting thing for the White Hart Lane faithful is the ambition shown by the club to land a player of his calibre.

The Brazil team that wiped the floor with Spain in the Confederations Cup final is loaded with superstars from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, and Paulinho did not look out of place in the competition-winning side. Madrid and Inter Milan were thought to be in the market for his signature this summer also, and as such the fact that Spurs have managed to win the race for his hand means a lot.

Paulinho

It is obviously an important summer in the transfer window for Spurs. The club’s main priority will be to keep Gareth Bale, and the hunt for a top-class striker continues also. Paulinho’s signing may well aid the north Londoners in achieving both. The Wales international has admitted that he misses Champions League football, and needs to be reassured that at Tottenham he will only have to wait another 12 months until he gets it again. Signing players of Paulinho’s calibre will hopefully be a step in the right direction in warding Real Madrid off Bale this summer.

If a current Brazil international is happy to move to Tottenham, other players of quality should follow suit. With Sandro and Paulinho both at the club, the continued effort to land countryman Leandro Damiao may well have a shot in the arm.

Paulinho will be a significant upgrade to an ageing Scott Parker, and accompanying Dembele and Sandro in the centre of the park means that Spurs can boast on of the most impressive midfields in the division. The new man would not look out of place at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, and his signing is one of real ambition by a Tottenham side that will look to rival the top sides in the Premier League next season.

Should Tottenham, Liverpool or Chelsea be looking at Swansea target Wilfried Bony?

Swansea have been doing exemplary business in the transfer market over the last few years, their headline-grabbing £2m capture of Michu the one that really caught the attention. With that in mind, as Swansea look to be ever closer to signing striker Wilfried Bony from Vitesse Arnhem, the obvious question is; are they getting more quality that clubs at the top of the league should be looking at themselves? In the same way that surely Michu’s 20+ goals could have been of use to Spurs or Liverpool last season if they’d known about him. Perhaps Swansea are sneaking through another bargain signing under the noses of clubs that need a striker.

Bony is, at 24, about to really hit his prime. Last season he scored 31 goals in 30 games in the Eredivisie. Now, that in and of itself is not an indicator for success in the Premier League. However, when comparing Bony to other goal filled strikers who have failed elsewhere, notably Afonso Alves at Middlesbrough, it’s important to see why he is different. The most successful Dutch league exports are those possessed of physical talent, as well as technical ability. Alves and Luuk de Jong for example, struggled because their relative physical talent was no more than average at a higher standard. Uis Suarez and Ruud van Nistelrooy possessed the football intelligence and raw ability to succeed when stepping up.

Wilfried Bony

Bony is an elite physical specimen. He’s 6ft tall, very quick and strong and has elite balance and spring. It means that not only can he burn away from players when running, he can also more than handle himself in the physical battles. This makes him ideally suited to the Premier League. His canny runs on the shoulder of the last defender were supplied by soon-to-be Chelsea youngster Marco van Ginkel. At Swansea he will have Pablo Hernandez, Michu and possibly a re-signed Jonathan De Guzman picking him out. He could be this summer’s Michu for them. But, should Spurs, Liverpool or Chelsea be having a look?

There’s no question all three clubs are in the market for striking reinforcements. Of the three, Chelsea are probably the least likely spot, but, if they are signing van Ginkel, and considering they have a great relationship with Vitesse, they might want to reunite them in blue. However, with Lukaku, Schurrle, Torres and Ba already at the club, they seem to be trying to sign a proven world-class player like Edinson Cavani rather than another prospect.

Spurs would be a great fit. They want to upgrade on Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, and Bony could well prove to be that. At this stage he’s not really in a position to start every game ahead of those two straight away, but Andre Villas-Boas is an excellent coach and would perhaps feel like he could mould the physically talented Bony in to a complete forward in due course. He’d make great sense for Spurs if they are willing to be patient and let him develop.

Liverpool is an interesting destination for Bony. It seems the Luis Suarez saga has gone quiet at the moment and with the assumption that he will leave now almost taken for granted. But there hasn’t been much news on his possible move. If Liverpool do manage to keep Suarez then Bony isn’t an option. However, Liverpool are trying to build a team to win the league in two years, not this year. This is why they are signing younger, technically talented players that Brendan Rodgers can coach up. Bony has the pace that Rodgers covets and would be able to push Daniel Sturridge to earn the long-term striker role rather than just have it granted to him.

At Swansea Bony would be the starter. They would be signing him in the expectation that he can score 20 goals, which he certainly has the talent to do. Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea could do worse than look at what Swansea are up to and see whether they rate him as a long-term option.

Why Paulinho should choose Tottenham over Real Madrid

Tottenham and Real Madrid seem intertwined this summer when it comes to the transfer market. We all know about the Gareth Bale saga but recently Real have also emerged as suitors for Spurs’ midfield target, the Brazilian Paulinho. It looks increasingly like Paulinho may choose Spurs, and if he does it would be an excellent decision. Not only that, but perversely for Spurs’ fans he would actually be doing Real Madrid a favour if he decides to move to London. With Real Madrid making big statements about Bale having to request a transfer and previous tension over similar tactics with Luka Modric last year, Spurs losing Paulinho to Real would near enough set Bale’s future at Spurs in stone. If Real pinched what looks like Spurs’ number one transfer target, it would only harden the already tough resolve of chairman Daniel Levy to keep his star Welshman.

Paulinho

As far as Paulinho is concerned though, a move to Spurs is a better idea than Madrid. Paulinho needs to be playing first-team football in this year of the Brazilian World Cup to keep his place in the team. He’ll get that at Spurs, but not necessarily at Real Madrid. At Spurs, the only player of a similar type is Mousa Dembele. Paulinho drives through midfield with authority, has a nice range of passing and has also shown that he can score goals as well as being defensively tenacious. He is a complete modern midfielder, able to do everything Spurs need of him in the Premier League. It would depend on what system Spurs are going to be playing next year as to whether he is in a two or three man midfield, but he has all the tools to play with Sandro and Dembele is some combination. He would immediately become the main man, the guaranteed starter.

At Real Madrid this would not be the case. Real’s personnel means they are likely to play a 4-2-3-1 system in which Paulinho would have to compete for one of the two spots deep in midfield. Real already have Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric that they are struggling to find game time for. As the new man Paulinho would probably start at the back of that particular queue and may not be able to force himself in to view in the major games. The glamour of Real Madrid is an enticing prospect, but the reality can be very harshly different. When even the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil are struggling to get in to the first team despite years of Champions League experience, it will be hard for Paulinho to swan straight in to the side.

Spurs are trying to show that they are serious about getting in to the top four once more. Over the last few years they have made some real quality signings for good value. However, this summer it is important that they are making the signings without having to sell anyone. Although he hasn’t shown any sign of wanting to leave, it is still vital that Spurs show Bale that they are doing everything they can to get back to the Champions League, and Paulinho would be a great start.

Is Alvaro Negredo an option for Tottenham?

It speaks for the quality that Spain have in their squad that Alvaro Negredo is currently their fourth choice striker. Last season he scored 31 goals and also has two more 20+ goal seasons in the last few years. At 6’1” he has good size, and as you might expect of a Spaniard, excellent touch and technique. It is these qualities that have seen him catch the attention of Spurs, and plenty of other clubs around Europe. Having seen Sevilla sell Jesus Navas, he has told the club that he wants to leave in order to play in the Champions League. With big Champions League clubs with space for a new striker thin on the ground, Spurs should not be intimidated of making a move for him.

Spurs need a goalscoring striker more than anything. The inconsistency of Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor is one of the reasons they couldn’t quite get in to the top four last season. They both have their strengths and at times scored spectacular goals, but neither of them are consistent. Neither can be relied upon to get the club in to the Champions League. They need less of the spectacular and more of the consistent, the clinical. This is where Negredo fits in. He doesn’t have the raw pace of Defoe or genial feet of Adebayor, but he is a relentless goal scorer. He scored 17 goals in 20 league games for Sevilla in 2013 including four, three and two-goal outbursts. This is exactly the kind of reliability Spurs need.

Alvaro Negredo

Unlike some other options Spurs have been linked with, Negredo is no one-season wonder. In the 2010/11 season he scored 29 goals and in 2008/09 he scored 21. In between he got 14 and 15 goals respectively. So even on a relative down year he’d still have been the second highest scorer at Spurs last season. He has good size and strength for the Premier League, having played most of his career as a lone front man in front of three attacking midfielders, which is exactly what Spurs would need him to do.

Sevilla don’t sell cheaply but a bid of £20m would give them a big decision to make. Although they are not desperate to sell, they have always been willing to for the right price. Navas was sold to City and they sold Sergio Ramos to Real Madrid for big money. It’s a lot of money for Spurs to be paying but if they have serious intentions of keeping Gareth Bale and getting in to the Champions League, they need to make moves like this. Negredo doesn’t have the raw physical talent of a Christian Benteke or Leandro Damiao but Spurs have been down the athlete route many times before. They just need someone to put the ball in the net from the endless supply provided by Gareth Bale.

Of course, this sort of quality won’t go unnoticed. Negredo has made it clear he wants Champions League football but that somewhat limits his potential landing spots. Atletico Madrid are known admirers and are looking to replace Radamel Falcao. There’s a possibility that a sale of Robert Lewandowski could see Borussia Dortmund attracted but beyond that, short of a move to Russia, the Champions League options are limited. Although there is one other Premier League club who could be a dark horse. If Chelsea miss out on all of their other targets they can’t be discounted.

However, Spurs are in a very strong position to attract Negredo. It’s pretty much a fight between them and Atletico in all likelihood and the prospect of being crossed to by Gareth Bale should be an enticing one.

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