Return to Champions League the aim for Spurs
LONDON (AP) — Returning to the Champions League is again the aim for Tottenham as it heads into the new Premier League campaign with another new coach, a largely untouched squad and hopes that last year’s spending spree will finally pay dividends.
Given Spurs’ lack of transfer activity during the offseason, the task for manager Mauricio Pochettino is clearly to revive rather than rebuild — and there is room for improvement in a talented team that underperformed too often last season and collapsed in the big games.
The proceeds of Gareth Bale’s world-record transfer to Real Madrid for 100 million euros (then $132 million) were spent on a slew of expensive foreign signings last summer, but they didn’t gel and only playmaker Christian Eriksen could be classed as a success.
They will be given another chance this season and Erik Lamela, especially, will be looking to relaunch his career, with the Argentine forward barely playing following his club-record move from Roma for an estimated 30 million pounds ($50.41 million).
“We expect a lot from him, he’s an unbelievable player,” Pochettino said of his compatriot. “He needs to show us that he deserves to play.”
Similarly, players like Brazil midfielder Paulinho and Spain striker Roberto Soldado will hope for better second seasons in English football.
Pochettino moved from Southampton, where he developed a strong reputation for playing a positive, attacking brand of football in his 18 months in charge. That is the style of football being demanded by Tottenham’s trigger-happy chairman Daniel Levy, who is up to his eighth permanent manager in 13 years at White Hart Lane.
“We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve,” Pochettino said when he signed for Spurs.
Tottenham’s only season in the Champions League was in 2010-11 and that is where Levy wants to be.
The only new member of Pochettino’s starting lineup is likely to be Ben Davies, a left back signed from Swansea. The other two signings, goalkeeper Michel Vorm from Swansea and defender Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon, are expected to be backups.
Pochettino must make Tottenham more solid in the games against his side’s top-four rivals, with 6-0 and 5-1 defeats to Manchester City, 5-0 and 4-0 losses to Liverpool and a 4-0 defeat at Chelsea being big blots on last season.
In: Ben Davies (Swansea), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon).
Out: Jake Livermore (Hull), Iago Falque (Genoa), Heurelho Gomes (Watford), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea).