By Matthew Haynes
Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino is probably the most relieved manager in the Premier League after the opening weekend of fixtures after he guided his Spurs side to a narrow 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
However, he deserves credit. Despite the club investing in a new stadium and training ground, one suspects that if Daniel Levy had made a substantial amount of capital available to spend in the transfer window then Pochettino would have strengthened.
If he is frustrated at the board, he hasn’t once demonstrated it, staying professional and insisting that his squad is strong enough, even suggesting that Brexit and the decline of the Pound’s value has had an effect on there being a lack of funds available, in addition to the outlay on their new stadium.
“Building a new training ground was a massive investment,” Pochettino told BBC Sport.
“Building a stadium that is nearly £1bn. And then with Brexit it is worse because the cost is 30% more.”
Spurs were anything but their energetic, free-flowing form of which we are used to with many a World Cup hangover evident. Harry Kane, who is yet to score in the Premier League in August looked a shadow of his former self, while there was a lethargy in midfield, barring the irrepressible Dele Alli.
Not being able to recruit in the summer could leave them in trouble. Another striker is the obvious candidate – Fernando Llorente is now on the wrong side of average, while Son Heung Min has left for the Asia Games for two weeks.
Utilising Moussa Sissoko squeals lack and limitation and even he was lucky to escape without a suspension.
Genuine width from advanced areas could prove a problem for the north London outfit this term. Sissoko cannot cut it and though Erik Lamela is returning from injury, the jury is still out on the Argentine.
Lucas Moura has a point to prove and the fact that he came from PSG means nothing – after all they let him go.
The litmus test for Spurs will be when Liverpool visit midway through September – a team they swept aside in that fixture last season in a 4-1 victory and crucially who they finished two points ahead of in the Premier League.
Spurs’ soft centre
Jurgen Klopp strengthened significantly, especially in central midfield, an area where Spurs need legs. Although Victor Wanyama offers physical steel, Mousa Dembele is not the player he once was and there is a question mark over whether he can last a full season.
An area they do looked suitably stocked is at the back and if they keep Toby Alderweireld, this will be like a new signing. Jan Vertonghen proved his importance on Tyneside, while Davinson Sanchez will continue to get better.
Fulham, Watford and Manchester United complete Spurs’ August and Pochettino will hope that their form doesn’t drop as fast as the GBP.