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New Year’s Day 2015 saw the Premier League pass its halfway mark.

A time where clubs assess how they have progressed to date, and where they can improve between now and May.

Tottenham Hotspur mid-season reviewTottenham Hotspur started the year very well – seeing off Chelsea 5-3 in their opening game of 2015 – and will be looking forward to the remainder of the campaign. However, it did take a while for them to get going…

Another summer of change

The summer of 2014 was another of change at Tottenham, and another managerial appointment saw Mauricio Pochettino arrive from Southampton. Fans of Spurs were mixed in their response, some confident he had the ability to take the club forward, while others wanted a more experienced name.

Upon his arrival, Chairman Daniel Levy said of the Argentinian: ‘In Mauricio I believe we have a Head Coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our Club. He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality.’

The ‘Poch Effect’ – a slow burner

The key words from Levy’s statement were ‘high energy, attacking football’ and as already mentioned it took a while for these ideas to come to fruition. Some players were embracing the ex Espanyol and Southampton coach’s methods, but some were finding it harder. The pre-season tour of America saw early signs of how ‘Poch’ wanted his side playing, but in that environment it is difficult to gage how much of an effect he was having. Competitive games were where he would be judged, and the first four months were a mixed bag.

A resounding victory over QPR plus a creditable draw away at Arsenal were clear indications of how he wanted his side to play, but consistency was not forthcoming. Infuriatingly, progress was being hindered by lethargic, lackadaisical displays against the likes of West Brom, Newcastle (second half) and Stoke City. Optimism was turning into pessimism amongst some of the supporters, and there were even whispers that his job was under threat as the Lilywhites spent the autumn languishing in mid-table. But surely another change was not the answer? Thankfully not.

Since a high energy 2-1 victory over Roberto Martinez’s Everton at the end of November, the Spurs have only lost one league game. Mauricio’s methods are now more visibly having an effect, and his side haven’t tasted defeat domestically since a 3-0 reverse at the home of Chelsea on 3rd December.

Continuity brings Christmas cheer

During the early part of the campaign, it seemed that Pochettino did not know his best side – somewhat understandably when you arrive at a new club – as he was regularly making changes. However, in the last few weeks it seems as though he has identified those who he wants to build his team around.

It is no coincidence that, since the Chelsea defeat and the uninspiring home draw with Crystal Palace a few days later, performances and results have improved greatly. Five league games have been played since the Palace stalemate – Swansea and Leicester away and Burnley, Manchester United and Chelsea at the Lane – with the accumulation of 13 points from a possible 15. During these games Hugo Lloris, Federico Fazio, Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane have started in each. Ryan Mason has also started four and come on in one other, his game time only reduced by untimely injuries.

Conclusion

It seems that, having spent the first half of the season assessing his options, Mauricio Pochettino now has a clear vision of how he wants his Tottenham side to approach games. He has identified those that fit into his way of thinking the best and created a strong spine to his side. Those that have, for whatever reason, not brought into his philosophy have been left out of the side for sustained periods, regardless of their status within the club. Back in the summer fans questioned his decision to make centre half Younes Kaboul his new skipper, despite him explaining that it was a choice based on more than just the Frenchmen’s ability on the pitch.

After being in the side at the start of the campaign – with mixed results – Kaboul has not started in the league since the horrible 2-1 home defeat to Stoke at the start of November. Spurs have lost just once in nine since then with Fazio and Vertonghen paired together.

Pochettino, by taking this action, has not only improved his team’s performances and results, but always shown that he isn’t afraid of making big calls. This is backed up by the fact that one of his vice captains, Emmanuel Adebayor, has not been missed at all despite having not featured in the first team since being introduced as a substitute in the same Stoke fixture.

What Pochettino needs to ensure now though is that all the hard work so far does not go to waste as his side still battle in four competitions during the second half of the campaign. They are within reach of the coveted top four, are still in Europe, the FA Cup and are a two legged tie away from a trip to Wembley in the League Cup.

A clever transfer window and continued levels of improvement and effort could lead to a very good season down beneath the famous old cockerel at the Lane.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Matt Boosey, Twitter: @matt3oosey1982
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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