Inside Lane: Cup final defeat underlined Spurs’ lack of strength in depth
Tottenham blogger Dan Kilpatrick says the League Cup final defeat against Chelsea highlighted the glaring lack of depth in Tottenham’s squad, and that the club have a busy summer ahead.
Sometimes I find it useful to take off my Spurs hat and imagine circumstances from an opposition perspective. For example, how would a Chelsea fan, gleefully awaiting Sunday’s final whistle, have felt about the introduction of Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado for Tottenham’s final push?
Blissfully unconcerned, I imagine.
There was no shame in the League Cup final defeat but Spurs’ substitutions highlighted the scale of the rebuilding task facing Mauricio Pochettino and co.
The trio – boasting a combined total of three league goals this season – were never likely to be Wembley heroes.
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After much trial and error, Pochettino has settled on an impressive XI, a team capable of outplaying any side in the country, as Chelsea and Arsenal have discovered since the turn of the year.
Beyond that, however, I think Spurs’ squad is mediocre and the strain of competing on three fronts has told since our victory in the north London derby.
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Blessed with a fully-fit group on Sunday, Pochettino opted for just one change from the XI that battered Chelsea 5-3 on New Year’s Day – Eric Dier in for Federico Fazio – but as the Blues took hold of the game, the Argentine had no game-changing options from the bench, or sufficient defensive cover, forcing Kyle Walker to labour on after the break despite picking up a knock.
Chelsea, blessed with a bottomless pit of roubles, are not a fair comparison with Spurs but the Blues boasted Oscar, Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Juan Cuadrado in reserve – all players capable of turning the tide, had Spurs capitalised on their first-half control.
While I see a bright future for Sunday’s XI - the average age of the team was just 23 - it is no exaggeration to say the entire remainder of the squad are facing uncertain summers.
Pochettino evidently wants nothing to do with Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue, while Vlad Chiriches, Paulinho, Soldado and the on-loan Aaron Lennon are other senior players facing the chop.
Aided by new head of recruitment Paul Mitchell, Daniel Levy and perhaps Franco Baldini, the head coach must find takers for these big earners and replace them with quality players who fit his philosophy. With the Europa League potentially beckoning again, Spurs cannot afford to start next season with just 14 or 15 trusted players.
It’s a daunting task. With the new stadium to fund, the transfer budget is likely to be limited and last summer’s approach of buying second-rate versions of top targets, like Benjamin Stambouli and Fazio, proved unsuccessful. Dier was the only summer addition to start the final.
Under Levy’s stewardship, Spurs have typically been hesitant and opportunistic in the transfer market but a different, decisive approach is needed this summer. With the impressive Pochettino at the helm, I think we’ll get it.
Follow me on Twitter @TheTottenhamWay and read my blog at http://www.thetottenhamway.com/