Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Little Nostalgia on offer at White Hart Lane.

It was of little surprise that Spurs despatched QPR at White Hart Lane on Sunday but the relative progress of the two belligerents showed up a growing chasm.

So big was the difference in the two teams that it was tough to spot where the line was between Spurs being good and QPR being awful.

To start with the positives, Spurs look an infinitely better side than they were last season. It is early days and there will be far tougher tests than Sunday but they now look a team with a very distinct identity.

Last season it was hard to ascertain whether the numerous players they had signed to replace the Madrid bound Gareth Bale were actually any good. Trying to figure out their best eleven was nigh on impossible and proved to be too difficult for both AVB and Tim Sherwood.

Mauricio Pochettino has mainly kept his powder dry since his arrival at White Hart Lane. Spurs already had a squad burgeoning in numbers but with little cohesion. Vast new numbers of players was not the answer.

Spurs on Sunday looked a team with energy and purpose completely aware of their roles in the side. It was hard to judge the defence with any real certainty given the paucity of attacking from QPR but the pair of Bentaleb and Capoue bristled with intent in the holding midfield positions.

They offered the platform for both Spurs' attacking full backs and the attack minded triumvirate of Eriksen, Lamela and Chadli.

Presumably far more than just a hunch persuaded Spurs to part with over 25M for Erik Lamela last Summer. His first season was of course an unmitigated disaster but his performance against QPR offered many clues as to the undoubted talent that he clearly possesses.

At 22 years of age and with a countryman for a manager, he may well yet prove to be a very good Spurs player.

Of all Spurs' signings last year, Christian Eriksen looked the best and again on Sunday he looked a midfield schemer supreme and the 11M that Spurs spent on him looks an absolute steal.

Whether Lamela and Eriksen can impose themselves in such a manner away from home and against better sides remains to be seen but with a rejuvenated (and interested) Emmanuel Adebayor up front also they should have too much fire power for most Premiership teams.

Adebayor looks a far more potent goal threat than the toiling Roberto Soldado who has only two Premiership goals from open play to his name.

For Spurs, real progress in the league will be tough as the top four ceiling is made of very thick glass and over the duration of a season, Arsenal still hold a huge psychological advantage over their North London neighbours.

But Pochettino has so far made a hugely positive start to his tenure at White Hart Lane and one must hope that Daniel Levy gives the highly talented coach the time to truly leave his mark on the club.

Harry Redknapp enjoys wonderful press in the UK, he has cultivated a relationship and status with the red tops that only Terry Venables in recent times could rival.

4 Premiership wins from 27 in his time at QPR tells another story of his latest stewardship however.

QPR were entirely dreadful on Sunday bereft of shape, energy and pace. Neither their central midfield nor their creaking backline looked capable of coping with Premiership football.

What is also less than clear is who exactly is calling the shots at QPR. The other Spurs managerial alumni Glenn Hoddle cast a very long shadow over Redknapp from his seat in the directors' box on Sunday.

The three at the back system was widely mooted upon Hoddle's arrival at Loftus Road but a trio of Caulker and the badly ageing pair of Ferdinand and Dunne hardly look equipped to deal with the quality that the likes of Spurs possess.

Richard Dunne in particular looked horribly out of position on the left side of the back three, a natural right footed player, he was left badly exposed as Nacer Chadli stole in for the opener.

Presumably Redknapp resumed the reigns at half time as QPR reverted to a back four, of course by that time the hoops were already dead and buried.

Joey Barton remains a class act for all his antics but he was offered little support by either Mutch or Fer in a midfield simply unable to cope with Spurs' high press and energy.

Mutch, Caulker and Fer were three of QPR's Summer signings. It is worth noting that all three were relegated from the Premiership last season and on this evidence, all three may become serial offenders.

Loic Remy has been the subject of much transfer talk and he must indeed be wondering what exactly the point is in his role at QPR given the lack of service he receives.

What is so galling for QPR fans is that they have apparently learned nothing from their previous Premiership stay under the ownership of Tony Fernandes.

Mr Fernandes is presumably an intelligent man given the wealth he has accumulated but his acumen at running sports teams (take a look at Caterham F1's recent history) belies a man possibly out of his depth and possibly without the financial resources required to succeed in the glamorous worlds he so craves.

The transfer window has not yet shut but QPR look a long way from being anything else other than in deep relegation trouble again this season. The situation between Hoddle and Redknapp is also one that could cloud matters further.

For Spurs however, whilst there have been many false dawns, their squad suddenly looks far more balanced - more quality at centre back wouldn't go amiss however - and in Pochettino they look to have a class act in charge.

Southampton ran out of steam last season pursuing Pochettino's high energy pressing game, Spurs have far more depth to their squad and should last the course.

It could be a bright season at the Lane, less so Westward at Loftus Road - No Nonsense.