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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Early Days

We've reached, endured and survived our first international break of the season. It provided a great platform in which to reflect on our relatively promising start to the season. Three largely differing performances could easily reflect inconsistency but, in truth, highlight how we're still piecing together the Pochettino puzzle. We're sat on a learning curve, embracing structure.

Early signs have presented promise and reason for quiet optimism. There seems to be a greater sense of unity in the side, a hunger to go for the throat. Against Liverpool we were choked out the game after missing the opportunity to go in on level terms. We bowed down at 2-0 and our inadequacies reminded us that we are in the early stages of a hopeful long-term project for success rather than an attempt at a 'quick fix' (if they even exist).

Our ideology this summer was that of building a stronger squad rather than a team littered with individual talents. I like to think our signings represent greater quality than the sum of their individual talents. We've purchased players because of their style and type to fill in the gaps. They arrive with no weighted price-tag allowing them to steer clear of the media spotlight. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but the mistake we made last year was signing Soldado based on his numbers rather than his style. A square peg in a round hole. He's not young enough to develop his game & still looks horribly starved of confidence.

In Vorm we've signed a keeper better suited to the game Pochettino is clearly trying to install. The space between Friedel & our back four under AVB's high line (especially in cup competitions) left a consistent worry we were playing a keeper not suited to our game and thus at a detriment to the side. This would naturally have proved a worry for the defence. In Ben Davies we've signed a defender that has more quality in operating as a wing-back. His defensive work, based on last season, clearly surpassed the failings that we'd had to endure in Danny Rose every week. Davies' move has also seemed to reinvigorate Rose whom had probably his best game for a long time against QPR.

Reading between the lines of breaking down Fazio as a footballer, my perception is that of the lovechild of Vertonghen and Kaboul. Technically good with the ball at his feet, he's also a mountain in the air. The perception that quick defenders are the holy grail of a successful high-pressing game are a myth. The best defenders in the world aren't renowned speed-kings . Positioning and spatial awareness are far more valuable assets.

Stambouli is allegedly in the mould of Schneiderlin. A raw gem, albeit a little rough around the edges. According to the press he represents great value and when have they ever wrongly over-hyped a player? Aside from this I feel our chances of developing younger more 'promising' players are far more prosperous with Pochettino and his coaching team overlooking this development than I ever would under Sherwood or Redknapp. AVB is another debate.

Pre-summer, our most pressing areas to add to were arguably left back and centre back. On paper, we've done this with relative success. Abraham Maslow theorised that human motivation can be listed in a 'hierarchy of needs'. This theory identified that the 'basic needs' (such as living) must be met before more complex needs are required (such as self-actualization). We arguably fulfilled our basic needs of a left-back and centre-back, before suddenly demanding a more complex need in a striker as the window wore on.

We have three forwards but play just one in our current system. It's clear that we showed an interest in Jay Rodriguez of Southampton but with his injury naturally showing cause for concern, we decided against making a move. Talks of a January move make far more logical sense as it provides us with 4 months worth of assessment. During this period, we have to show some faith that our £26m striker can provide the return we've been crying out for for 12 months. We have to also hope that Adebayor can hit the heights consistently that we know he can and Harry Kane can continue showing promise whenever he plays in the lilywhite.

If these 3 forwards can't produce the goods then the January window will provide us with a golden opportunity in which to fulfil this renewed 'basic need'. A striker would've been a nice touch to finalize the window but the money evidently wasn't there to bring in the type of forward we'd have wanted.

It's easy to forget that we brought in Pochettino to exploit the talents of the individuals in the squad and mould them into a football team. The signs have been there. Its early days, but hopefully the finished image of the Pochettino puzzle will be that of sheer beauty.