Manchester City will be eager to make amends for their humiliating 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park when Tottenham Hotspur visit the Etihad this weekend. The Blues will be well aware, however, that they will be up against a team in tremendous form. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been going about their business quietly, but after their 2-0 win against Chelsea, they will fancy their chances against any side.
Hi Alan, thanks for speaking to us. Despite a very good start, Spurs have seemingly gone under the radar up until the last few weeks. Just how happy are you with how things are going?
Unreservedly delighted with the way it’s going at the Lane. Last season we overachieved but at the start of this term we hadn’t quite clicked despite a long unbeaten run. Our outstanding performance in beating City – no disgrace by the way, as good a Spurs all-round effort as any in the last twenty years – wasn’t matched elsewhere. Just as I thought we had not kicked on, in December we began to put it all together. Since then we’ve scored goals and have a tight defence, something I can barely recall in 50 years. Above all, some of the football has been glorious. The first half against West Brom last week was a joy to behold.
Because Spurs are a big club (whatever that means) and because many of the players have been around for a few years, people forget the youth and relative inexperience of the squad. We are still developing. The side understand what is expected of them and work tremendously hard for each other. Every player has improved their game. Pochettino has taken the club forward in many ways but his finest achievement is to instil a culture of good football, hard work and playing for each other. Our best players could earn 3 times their current salary elsewhere but choose to stay because they want to be part of something different. It also means the fans feel close to the team once again.
Mauricio Pochettino has done a superb job at Spurs. Do you think you would be able to keep hold of him if one of Europe’s ‘elite’ came calling?
I would not swap Pochettino for any manager in the world. As well as what he’s done on the pitch, he understands and respects the club’s culture, and puts that above his personal profile. He has complete control of the team at Spurs and while he sees progress I think he will stay. That said, any manager, player or coach will go if an elite club comes in for them. Who knows, with this squad and the new stadium, Spurs may be able to match his undoubted ambitions.
Do you think Spurs will be dipping into the market between now and the end of the window?
No, in a word. I very much doubt that they have any planned purchases and the manager is confident that we have cover throughout the squad.
Harry Winks has made quite the impression this season. Are there any other promising youngsters coming through that we may not have heard of?
I’m glad you’ve spotted Winks, a real talent, confident, wants the ball, eye for an early pass forward and plays without fear. Otherwise, Josh Onomah is a midfielder Pochettino rates but he’s found it hard to get game time in his preferred central midfield position. Cameron Carter-Vickers is a solid centre half while a few years behind, Marcus Edwards has real talent. Watch out for him.
On to Manchester City now. What are your perceptions of City as a club, both past and present?
City and Spurs fans have something in common, I think, a proud history of loyal support that lasts through the fallow years and latterly overshadowed by their neighbours, and therefore is solid to the core. When that Aguero goal went in, who could begrudge the joy those fans in the stands showed? I hope that doesn’t change with the money at City.
I like to watch City, good players and attacking football – it’s become one of the games I look forward to most in the season. Currently, a reminder – and why should we need one – that football is about players fundamentally, not the cult of managers as many believe these days. All the money in the world but if you can’t scout a good defender….
If you could have one player join Spurs from the current Manchester City squad, who would it be and why?
David Silva is my favourite non-Spurs player in the league. His inventiveness, creativity and eye of space would fit right in at the Lane. Mind you, he’d have to run around a bit more under Poch than he does now.
Finally, please can we have your predicted Spurs team for the weekend’s game, and your prediction for the final score?
Only one change from last week, whether Wimmer or Davies replaces the injured Vertonghen on the left of our favoured back three. So:
Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Wimmer; Walker, Wanyama, Eriksen, Dembele, Rose; Alli; Kane
I predict an exciting game, could be one of the games of the season. Spurs to win 2-1.
If you enjoyed reading Alan’s thoughts, take a look at his new book – ‘A People’s History of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’ – available on Amazon.