Why Ryan Fraser is ready made for Mauricio Pochettino’s project at Tottenham Hotspur

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Ryan Fraser in recent months has been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, an individual who is having one of his best seasons as a Bournemouth player and is in his fourth campaign within the Premier League.

When a player from a mid-table side is in fine form and is playing a crucial role towards his team finishing in the top half of the table, they instantly become wanted by the top clubs in England. Players such as Jamie Vardy, Ruben Neves and Wilfried Zaha have unsurprisingly entered this category thanks to the contributions and performances they’ve produced for their respective clubs.

Focusing back onto Fraser himself, it’s time to look at his rise within the Premier League over the last year or so, and how he has caught the attention of Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur.

With no further ado…

He fits well into Pochettino’s and Spurs’ project

Pochettino has made a name for himself when it comes to developing young talented players and taking them to the next level since arriving to England in January 2013. From his early days at Southampton up until his current days at Tottenham, he has helped a number of English youngsters to make improvements and tweaks to their style of play, with the well-known ones being Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Kyle and James Ward-Prowse.

On top of that, the former Espanyol and Southampton coach is yet to make many signings of the age of 30 and over, which clearly shows the players he brings in are those are who suited to his long term plans and are willing to stay around for at least three to five years. With Fraser turning 25 in a few days time, he has the ideal skillset to go on to being someone who can control and dictate the side’s attack, especially given he has created the most chances (17) in the league so far this season.

Pochettino craves for intelligent midfielders

Looking at Tottenham’s current midfield, it’s none other than Christian Eriksen who is pulling the strings for the side, a player who is very tidy on the ball and can produce something out of nothing. Meanwhile, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have actually come into their own in the last couple of months, but are yet to show they have the ability or the spark to guide the team forward, to produce a moment of brilliance from midfield and importantly for when their key men are not on the pitch.

But if Spurs were to go all out for Fraser, they will be going for an individual who is stepping up on his numbers in the final third of the pitch and is proving to be a valuable asset when it comes to delivering set-pieces. Currently on five goals and nine assists in 26 league games, if the Scotland international was to confidently hit double figures in both departments before the season finishes, he would potentially be making a serious name to become one off Tottenham’s main transfer targets for the summer window.

Allows Eriksen to player higher up the pitch

It is more or less fair to say that, Eriksen is one of the side’s most crucial players and is seen as one of the best playmakers within the league and the whole of Europe. Although he is playing in a deep role at this moment of time, alongside either Winks or Eric Dier in the middle of the pitch, the possible arrival of a central midfielder would allow him to play high up the pitch once again, where he can feed the perfect passes into Harry Kane, Heung Min-Son and Fernando Llorente like a piece of cake.

If Ryan Fraser just happens to be that midfield signing in the summer, he could play a useful role as a box-to-box midfielder as well as in Eriksen’s position for whenever the Danish playmaker is in need of a rest or is unable to start the match. The Aberdeen-born star has proven himself as a versatile play over the last couple of months, where has played in all the tactical roles within midfield and also the key areas out on the flanks, which could be important to Pochettino as he continues to utilise a small squad.

Tottenham can still win the league with an almighty run

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So the scenario is that the Premier League is a two horse race between Liverpool and Manchester City, but perhaps Tottenham have a chance too. While the media pour column inches over the two teams nobody is really talking about Tottenham who are just five points behind Liverpool. Could they really have a chance?

If the form books go as they should it looks like the new champions will end up with anything between 90-94 points. No matter how good Liverpool and City have been they are going to drop more points this season.

Tottenham looked out of the league a few weeks back after falling almost 10 points behind Liverpool, but the Reds have dropped points through drawing games and City lost in between that and the teams look more bunched up and close than many people think.

So do Tottenham have a chance? There is the possibility of it. They have 39 points left on the table and have 57 in total. If they were to win every game they would end up with 96 points which should be enough to win the league. The problem is not many teams are capable of winning 13 games in a row, but if it is going to happen then it should towards the end of the season when your club are going for a title.

Of Tottenham’s 13 fixtures 7 are at home if we can imagine the club winning at least all of their home fixtures that would take them to 78 points alone. Of course Spurs have some difficult matches coming up where they will have to play the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and only the Arsenal game will be at home. On top of that is the Champions League, and if Spurs are going to try to maintain a league challenge it’s difficult for them in their present state to also go full throttle for Europe.

Still Mauricio Pochettino’s side will feel that they can exert real pressure on the top two teams. Their next fixtures both look winnable at least on paper when they will entertain Leicester before an away match against Burnley. Having said that you never can quite tell what Leicester side will turn up and Burnley have really improved as a team.

At the very least Tottenham should be finishing 3rd this season and if Pochettino is given some cash injections in the summer they have to go for the title that has eluded them since 1961 next season.

 

Is Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino right about putting a top 4 place above trophies?

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It’s not been a good week for Tottenham Hotspur by any stretch of the imagination after the club were knocked out of the Carabao Cup and then at the weekend Crystal Palace beat them in the FA Cup. Manager Mauricio Pochettino in defending the club has come out and said that the most important thing for the club is finishing in the top 4 in the league and not trophies, but is he right?

There is no doubt of course that the lure of playing in the Champions League is what the elite clubs need, and then there is the money and extra gate receipts for European football. If Tottenham want to attract the best players they need to be playing in the Champions League full stop, so a top 4 regular finish is a must.

But one must wonder what Tottenham fans have made of what Pochettino has said- in effect that trophies give players egos. His priorities do not seem to be about filling up the trophy cabinet. Of course one could argue that if the club won the FA Cup but finished 5th that would be a sore point to their season. On the same hand surely the fans want that glory and to see their team win silverware?

Pochettino is perhaps just trying to take the pressure from himself given that he has yet to win any trophies in his managerial career- and let’s be honest the way he has coached Tottenham it seems like only a matter of time before Pochettino will start winning trophies.

He did seem to contradict himself a little when he says that a top 4 finish is more important than winning trophies, as a top 4 finish only qualifies the club to play in another trophy. Still it is clear that for Pochettino that the only trophies worth winning are the league title and the Champions League.

While that attitude should be applauded, sometimes we need to refer to the walk before you can run method and that trophies no matter if they are not as important should be taken with equal value. One could argue that if Tottenham started to win domestic cups the team would build a winning mentality to go on and then win the bigger prizes.

For now the club are left with the league which looks like a distant hope and the Champions League where they will face Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.

No Kane, no Alli, no Son- Tottenham set to face their biggest test yet

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If you are a supporter of Tottenham you could well claim that despite your club being 3rd in the league, playing some wonderful football and getting great results it has felt like one thing after another- as they say in these parts of London, if it doesn’t rain it pours.

The news that Harry Kane, Son and Dele Alli will be out for extended periods at such a critical time may just be the body blow that ends Tottenham’s season, and that would be an incredibly sad story given how strong the club have been this season.

With Son everyone knew that the popular forward would be unavailable this month given that the Asian Cup has kicked off. Son’s national side South Korea were almost knocked out yesterday when they needed extra time to beat Bahrain. Now they are in the quarter finals and will be one of the favourites to go all the way to the final which takes place on February 1st. If all goes well Son could return to the club for the home game against Leicester a week later.

Son has been very good this season and has been an integral part of the team and his goals will be missed. Talking of goals even though the news was announced over a week ago, it is still devastating to think that Harry Kane could be out until March. Here is a player that has scored 160 goals for Tottenham and already 20 this season in all competitions. But with his ligament ankle injury he is set to miss crucial Premier League games, the Champions League first leg and if Tottenham make it to the Carabao Cup final he could miss that. He isn’t officially due back until the middle of March.

Make no mistake about it, Tottenham will miss their key forward and influential England international.

When Tottenham played Fulham away from home last weekend they were without Kane and Son. And so manager Mauricio Pochettino brought Dele Alli more forward. The result was that the club were rewarded and then stung. Alli scored, Tottenham won 2-1 in a very close game and then Alli was reported injured- he will miss the next 6 weeks in more crushing news for the club.

One has to wonder how Tottenham will be able to cope with such depletions? And one also has to wonder if not buying any players in the summer is now coming back to haunt the club? Surely they will dip into the transfer market even if only for a loan deal. One player that has been suggested is West Ham’s Andy Carroll which would feel like a surprise given how many times the player has been injured throughout his career.

Tottenham face potentially their biggest game of the season so far on Thursday when they visit Chelsea in the 2nd leg of the Carabao Cup semi final. Spurs take a 1-0 lead to Stamford Bridge and with all of their recent injuries are not the bookmakers favourites to advance to the final.

Pochettino will have to find a way how to play without so much striking talent on the field. Some solutions may be to advance Christian Eriksen and play Eric Lamela wide. And there might be an opportunity for youngster Oliver Skipp who is being highly touted as Spurs next best player.

This season has been incredibly tough for Tottenham, with stadium delays, no new players and Pochettino being linked to Manchester United. If any club are going to overcome the problems being hurled at them it seems that Tottenham are well prepared.

Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men keep bouncing on

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After spending a good couple of days in Dubai to recover back their energy and momentum following the festive fixtures, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United first task back was a tricky trip away to third-place Tottenham Hotspur. The match would be seen as a make or break moment for the visitors, as a defeat would seriously deny the side’s chances of finishing in the top four.

However, Solskjaer did what the likes of David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal couldn’t do, and that was beat an aggressive and dominant Tottenham team away from home. With how the Red Devils played on and off the ball, as well as the patience they showed on both sides of the pitch, it would not be a surprise to see the race for third and fourth place being extreme from now till May.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

David De Gea shows his brilliance in goal

Today at the Wembley Stadium, David De Gea set a new personal record, as he incredibly managed to complete 11 saves in a single Premier League for Manchester United without conceding a goal. His increasing influence is what makes him the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and one of the best in Europe, as he continues to save the club at least 10 to 12 crucial points season by season.

Time and time again, the opposition’s attackers and their home supporters are left in awe and total shock, especially when they feel a clear chance is going to end into the back of the net, bar it is saved by no one else but De Gea himself. Without a doubt, the Spanish international is up there with the likes of Eden Hazard, Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne as one of the best players within the league.

Marcus Rashford is proving he can be clinical and deadly

From his early days under Louis Van Gaal to playing on a regular basis for Jose Mourinho, Marcus Rashford had always shown magical moments as well as his scary potential to go onto become United’s ideal number nine for the next ten years. Though, the only thing that was letting him down was his lack of ability to be clinical and to finish, something he could not improve on straightaway.

On the other hand, the arrival of Solskjaer has helped him to evolve into an individual that can slowly reach the appreciation and hype that the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Demebele receives, as long as he becomes consistent and reliable. For the time being, Rashford has done more than enough over the last couple of weeks which has led the coach to drop Romelu Lukaku to the bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer succeeds in his first big task as interim manager

The victories against the lower sides in Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth and Newcastle United were seen as the much needed and straightforward ones, particularly because of the fact that the team were moving away from the top four spots week in and out. However, a cool, calm and collected victory away at Tottenham is starting to show that Solskjaer could be the real deal.

It may not be the right time to question if he is the right manager for Manchester United in the long run or not, but you cannot deny that he has began to revive the side’s attacking and breathtaking football. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer somehow rallies the current squad to a top four finish as well as a potential FA Cup trophy, the Old Trafford faithful will without a doubt feel he is the chosen one.

Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t have to leave Tottenham for Manchester United but probably will

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Since Jose Mourinho’s sacking earlier in the week there has inevitably been talk of who will permanently be the next manager at Manchester United after caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure ends next summer.

Everyone from Zinedine Zidane to Diego Simeone has been thrown in the hat. In Zidane’s case he is currently unattached to any club and after his immense success with Real Madrid could be the number 1 candidate, but not so… that vote of confidence has fallen to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Despite not winning a trophy for the North London club yet Pochettino has turned Spurs into genuine title contenders and changed the mentality of the club. One could argue that pound for pound Tottenham have been the best team in the Premier League for the past two seasons.

Now the Argentinian is being heavily linked to United and it does make sense. He has bags of experience in England, knows the Premier League inside out and his teams play positive attacking football, he’s also a great guy to be around. But the question that arises is do Manchester United need Pochettino more than he needs them?

There is no question that being offered the United job is a fantastic complement, but being offered it 5, 10, 15 years ago would have meant that there was no turning it down. But with time it feels that in 2018 United simply are not the same club anymore. After spending 26 years attached to Sir Alex Ferguson and one manager, the club have gone through 3 in five years. They feel like the also rans, yesterday’s team, perhaps even of an era changing. There is no question that the club will roar back but that could be 10 years or so away from now.

The knee jerk reaction when United or any of the big clubs come calling is to go, but Pochettino is in a unique position because he is already at a fantastic club- all that they are missing of course is the silverware to go with his tenure. Tottenham if the Gods persist will move into their brand new stadium early next year and the future does indeed look bright.

The only problem though could arise from Tottenham’s owner Daniel Levy being tight with the budget. The club have already infamously brought in no new players in the summer- although as it has turned out it hasn’t affected the club like it should have. But it must still be frustrating for the manager especially when he hinted last week that there would be no money to purchase new legs in January.

There is also the stark reminder of their neighbours Arsenal, who, after their big money move from Highbury to the Emirates went years without silverware and saw their best players leave as budgets were cut. Pochettino will have to weigh all of this up, and it could be the main reason he jumps ship. Levy needs to convince him to stay and offer him a decent budget on players for such a Premier League team.

Ultimately it would be unfortunate if he did decide to leave Spurs, because when the dust settles, it is plain to see that he doesn’t really need to leave, glory could be much closer to home than he thinks.

Is Mauricio Pochettino the right man for the job at Manchester United?

Before the last-gasp win over BSC Young Boys in the Champions League, Manchester United’s previous two results in Europe read 0-0 and 0-1, against Valencia and Juventus. Such has José Mourinho’s spark vanished at home, fans are now starting to boo at the end of home matches. That was the state of play at the end of the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace last weekend.

When the Portuguese manager was appointed in 2016, there was a sense of the tide turning once more for United. After failed stints from David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, Mourinho was brought in to do one thing and do it well: win. There was not such an emphasis on playing ‘attractive’ football like their Manchester counterparts, or bringing through youth on an unprecedented scale, but Mourinho had to make sure he would get the Red Devils seriously competing for major honours.

After his first year in charge, he won two trophies. The League Cup and the Europa League, both finals had some sense of fortune against lesser opposition of Southampton and Ajax being played against. However, it is Cup football and that’s the roll of the dice. Man United looked strong and they looked healthy. It was time to kick on for what the fans longed for: the Premier League.

And yet, even after such a promising first season, Mourinho’s second year in charge dwindled and there was no competitive aspect to it. They might have finished second, but 19 points behind league winners City tells the full story. United were nowhere near it.

It is this season, though – Mourinho’s famous third season – that has really rubbed the salt into the wounds of the Manchester United fans. There’s very little good football to be enthusiastic about; Mourinho’s not coaching the players to a good enough standard; there’s a clear divide between the board and the coach; the most recent signings have not been given a chance; the players look disinterested on the pitch and are not fighting fo the shirt; and, most importantly, Mourinho is not winning.

The list can go on and on, but those are the salient facts. And so it begs the question as to who United point the finger to and try to get in to replace him, which will likely be at the end of the season given it would take a whopping £14 million pay-off to push him out now.

Mauricio Pochettino is the outstanding candidate, given how he has turned Tottenham into a serious threat that can go toe-to-toe with any club in Europe on its day. The question marks will be around not having won a major honor with the Lilywhites so far, but no one can dilute the success he has had in North London.

Since taking over from Tim Sherwood, the Argentinean has revamped the whole club and, somehow, managed to raise performances level with the limited funds he has received as well as the sub par squad he inherited. Pochettino is a traditional coach that will squeeze ever drop of talent out of his players before deciding to go to the market.

Of course, he would like to be backed more than he has been under Chairman Daniel Levy, but Pochettino has excelled in coaching his players and raising their standards tenfold. Last summer came to a surprise to all when Spurs didn’t sign one player for their first-team, making them the first club to do so since the inception of the summer transfer window.

With Spurs building a new stadium that is yet to be completed, Levy allocated the funds into the off-field project, rather than bolstering the first-team squad and allow Pochettino a real chance of dethroning Manchester City. While it is understandable that the former Espanyol manager was disappointed, he has hidden his frustrations and still managed to keep his cool in the face of adversity.

Manchester United do not possess bad players. Some have gone past their sell-by date and should be moved on accordingly, but the root of the problem at Old Trafford is not the players. They simply need a manager who can coach them and have an identity to their game, rather than going with which the way the wind blows every few days.

Pochettino’s admiration of bringing through youth players can only help with his application given United’s long-standing tradition of blooding academy graduates into the first-team. The Argentine has shown his credentials with Spurs after leading them into the top four and are now routine participants in the Champions League.

The wait for a trophy goes on for Pochettino and he might not get his hands on one this season, but there is no one better suited for the job at Old Trafford than him right now. It is going to take a lot of money to prize him away from the clutches of Levy, but if United are serious about escaping the rut they find themselves in, they simply must go all in for Pochettino.

Should Tottenham start planning for life without Mauricio Pochettino?

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Before Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at Wembley on Monday, Mauricio Pochettino had some worrying words on his current situation as Spurs boss.

The north London club picked up 21 points from nine games ahead of the match against City, making this their best start to a domestic campaign in the Premier League era.

However, it seems all is not well behind the scenes, with Pochettino telling reporters in the build-up to Monday’s game that the club “needs to be more focused on winning titles”.

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Tottenham’s game against Manchester City was hijacked by capitalism

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Spin it anyway you please when Tottenham played Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in the Premier League the whole game was spoiled by capitalism. Suddenly the worlds best league and certain the most hyperbole one with television companies willing to spend upwards of £5 billion for rights was reduced to something no better than Sunday league football for youths.

The reason was how the Premier League and football grounds have sold their soul for money. It’s no secret that football changed in England once Sky the satellite broadcaster got involved over 25 years ago. There have been brilliant improvements to the league, let’s make no mistake but they have still come at costs. This was underlined on Monday night when one of the high profile matches of the season was reduced in quality because of an shambolic pitch.

This pitch didn’t belong to a non league team, although it might as well had. No that would be an insult to those teams. This was at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Tottenham champion pretenders against the champions Manchester City, and the pitch was simply awful. Why did this happen? Capitalism and the NFL had come to town like it does every year to rip the turf up. Not only that, the NFL logo was clearly visible in the centre circle as were all the markers for the different yards- the pitch looked like a Subbuteo one. As for the NFL they just got an extra 90 minutes of advertising too.

But the disgrace of the pitch which could have legitimately injured any of the players did not end there. There were also massive gaps around the famous stadium with the top tier almost empty. Just 54,000 people turned up, which feels significant only when you learn that when Tottenham played Liverpool here a few weeks ago there was over 80,000. Again the NFL was to blame as many City fans as well as some Tottenham could not come to the game which was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday and then changed to Monday evening.

And of course the change was because the NFL game was to be played on the Sunday. Finally the state of the pitch did affect the game, forget City’s normally free flowing football and Tottenham’s epic miss from Erik Lamela, all blamed on the pitch.

Whilst it is brilliant to have the NFL come to London and showcase a match, we should be very careful in future not to overlap prime sports all for the sake of greed, and that is exactly what happened on Monday night. If the NFL game was confirmed it was confirmed and that should have taken place no matter what. Tottenham are of course to blame in this fiasco with their stadium delays. But sense should have taken hold and this game should have been postponed to a later date. Annoying yes, but at least more spectators could have witnessed the game, and a missed beautiful exciting one at that.

 

Manchester City players must remain professional

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Pep Guardiola has been critical of his Manchester City players stating they need to remain professional should they be dropped. Although no problems yet, the Spaniard’s comments suggest that changes could be made ahead of their Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night while those who don’t make the starting XI must remain focussed. Continue reading