Cypriots defeated in N17 for a second time this season
A comfortable 3-0 win against AEL Limassol in the second leg of the Europa League qualifier and onwards into the group stages we march. Or rather skip. It was easy, more so than the first game where we left it late to come back from a goal down to win. In fact this wasn't even skipping. More of a casual stroll with the occasional jog. They really threatened. We didn't need to be potently brilliant to beat them.
By no means was this a perfect evenings football. But then considering the opposition and the fact so many players are returning to the fold and regaining fitness and seeking form, you'd be a right old miserable cynic to nitpick through the match. The system and the implementation - regardless of the personnel - is the most vital visual for me. I want to see that Spurs are working on a footballing identity that doesn't involve turgid displays and eternal rationalising till the end of days. Yes, yes. I sold myself down the river the last couple of years because I wanted something that was promised and never delivered. Like a parcel from Yodel.
Pochettino has the benefit of a good start at Spurs. Remember, feet grounded, don't read too much into anything. But unlike the clean sheets and performances of say early last season - this time round the players look like they fully understand instructions and the all important football is easy on the eye. But just not perfect against Limassol.
Tottenham as a unit played very well. Disciplined and fit for purpose to press and hassle the Cypriot team through-out the entirety of the game without ever needing to panic or rush around. Spurs had shape. Compared to last seasons jelly we're now a brick. It's that true defining positive. You can see Pochettino's impact and his football is beginning to blend into the side - with the first eleven or 'b' team.
Of course, this was only Limassol (much like it was only QPR last time out). So the lack of a creative force centrally wasn't as big of an issue as it might have been against better opposition. We had a touch of the sideways about as at times. No nucleus of industry to set things up from the middle. A lot of what we did early on was dependent on Harry Kane's movement. He's not the fastest and by no means at the age of 21 does he possess the Sheringhams, but he's neither scared or short of confidence. He just needs more of it. More of everything.
Not sure he's going to mature into a dynamic forward and that's my own early doubt. You want your striker to have a little arrogance in him. I don't know, I can see a player that wants to be cultured but that's not necessarily something you can nurture if your brain and feet don't synch up fast enough.
With Mauccio Pochettino resting several key players and giving starts to Paulinho and Mousa Dembele as well as Sandro and Vlad Chiriches - there was always going to be a patient build up to seeing us dig in and kill the game off. With Lewis Holtby also coming off the bench, Spurs lined up with a few that have been cited as having uncertain futures at the club. Deadline day is getting ever closer and the same rumours persist amongst newly revised ones.
Chiriches displayed the qualities that make it unimaginable why the club would look to cash in on him. When his agent stated that Spurs are not willing to sell him, perhaps we have given far too much credence to agent inspired headlines. He's composure and touch ooze class.
Sandro is desperately short of match fitness but there were cameos of him breaking up play effortlessly, even when he huffed and puffed behind the pace of the game. We're told he won't be leaving Spurs this summer. The fact this has been shared after a months of links to a move to Italy suggests that a move might be unavoidable. Will he fit into the system Pochettino is crafting and is there is a continued concern that he might be injury prone.
Again, it's easy to take your frustrations out on the fact that he is a larger than life character. Sure, what do we truly care about more? The football played or the lives of footballers shared via social media? If Instagram and Twitter didn't exist Sandro would still play darts, the guitar and do whatever else he does at home and away from training and THFC. Let's be thankful he isn't sharing photos of hookers from hotel rooms or spit-roasts. The bloke has proven he is an absolute kingpin. The injuries have made us question if he's reliability to avoid them will be his downfall. I don't want him sold and if Pochettino has the grey matter he'll find a way to fit Sandro into our long term plans. Nothing I can do if he doesn't share my opinion.
Lewis Holtby looked a tad miserable when he came on. He's been heavily linked with a move to Hamburg. Out of all the players we have that are under risk, he's likely to be the most expendable thanks to the fact that we've never really found him a position in the team because other players are stronger options.
Paulinho was involved if still the most un-Brazilian Brazilian he can be. He assisted and scored with a sweet strike. It's just that he never quite gives you the impression he's refined enough to control himself yet alone the space around him. He has something to offer, the question is, for a player that cost £17M he should fit into the team and not have to rely on his team-mates to compensate for his lack of assured guile. Utilised in the right way he can be productive. He has that uncanny ability to show up and score when attacking the penalty area, which tends to mask his lack of influence elsewhere. That's one almighty expensive impact sub we've got.
Harry Kane, penalty miss aside (after Karim Fegrouch introduced himself to Kyle Naughton's knee), showed some excellent touches and finished well for his goal. Missed a golden opportunity and had another effort or two - so he isn't shy of finding himself with a chance.
Andros Townsend found some redemption with a solid penalty after struggling to impose himself during the game. He knew, he knows. He didn't have the best of nights and more or less admitted it in the post-match interview.
I can't complain. Not sure I have really. I enjoyed the win as I was never concerned about the outcome. That's refreshing.
Concluding thought...a good run out for Spurs. Style and work ethic continue to bed in nicely as we look ahead to sterner tests in the coming days.