Stable Spurs are avoiding the spotlight ahead of Premier League curtain-raiser at Everton
Mauricio Pochettino is usually not the most quotable of Premier League managers but, last season, he gave the group of reporters who attended a late-December press conference a memorable Christmas present.
“I think it’s like what Britney Spears and Will.I.Am sing: “All eyes on us, all eyes on us”, said the Argentine.
At a time when the relative positions of Arsenal and Spurs were under discussion, Pochettino had found a musical method to express a familiar message – that Tottenham needed to be focused on themselves.
He will no doubt be saying something similar to his players now, perhaps singing Dido’s Look No Further in the dressing room.
But the 44-year-old will probably not be too disappointed if the eyes of the wider world are elsewhere in the build-up to Saturday’s big Premier League kick-off, and in the early weeks of the campaign.
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At the start of November last year Tottenham were quietly staking a claim for a Champions League berth, and a 3-1 home win over Aston Villa left them one point outside the top four.
With Jurgen Klopp arriving at Liverpool and Jose Mourinho in trouble with reigning champions Chelsea, few were paying attention to the steady progress under Pochettino at White Hart Lane.
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The Spurs manager admitted at the time: “It’s true that a lot of things have happened from the beginning of the season so that maybe the focus is on other places, not here. It’s different things and maybe for us it’s good.”
There was plenty of attention on Tottenham at the climax of the campaign as they sought to ruin Leicester’s fairytale and secure the club’s league title since 1961, and there is every reason to be interested in them now as they prepare to return to the Champions League.
Yet there are so many stories and sub-plots bubbling around the start of this weekend’s top-flight curtain-raisers that Spurs may well find themselves in the background again.
What can we expect from champions Leicester? Can Mourinho restore his reputation at United, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and this week’s £89million signing Paul Pogba – now the most expensive player in the world – in his squad?
Can Chelsea return to their former status under Antonio Conte after last season’s embarrassment? How will Pep Guardiola take to English football at Manchester City, and how will John Stones fare at the Etihad after his £47.5m move on Tuesday?
There have been changes aplenty at Everton, who will host Spurs this weekend, as well. In addition to selling Stones, Ronald Koeman has replaced Roberto Martinez as manager, while the Toffees have sealed a deal for Ashley Williams today and are chasing Yannick Bolasie.
It all means that Tottenham are unlikely to be the most talked-about team at Goodison Park ahead of the kick-off on Saturday, let alone in the Premier League as a whole.
And, while Spurs supporters may feel that is a bit of a snub given their side were closer to the title than most last term, Pochettino will probably be content to avoid the spotlight and lurk in the shadows, quietly enjoying the sense of stability and continuity at White Hart Lane and aiming to surprise a few more people.
Former captain Ledley King told this title: “You can look at the team and see where they could strengthen, but for me it’s really difficult to see where to strengthen.
“It’s a good position to be in. There’s been a lot of change with the other clubs and with that comes a little bit of uncertainty - you’re not sure what kind of start you’re going to get from some of the new teams and new managers.
“But we have a very settled team, a settled manager and I’m hoping that with that we can hit the ground running. The team understand what the manager wants from them and hopefully they can get off to a good start.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs