Help Harry Kane, ditch Moussa Sissoko and start a wonderkid – How Mauricio Pochettino can turn things around at Tottenham

19 Nov

If you believe what we’re reading in the media, Mauricio Pochettino may well be on borrowed time at Tottenham Hotspur.

The club have had a pretty woeful 2019 so far in the Premier League, winning just 11 of their 30 matches, a run which former manager Harry Redknapp described as ‘relegation form’.

Mauricio Pochettino is in desperate need of a result this weekend when Tottenham take on West Ham United
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They are currently sitting 14th in the Premier League this season, 20 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, and just six points off the bottom three.

A fall from grace such as this could see Pochettino pay with his job, despite his excellent relationship with chairman Daniel Levy.

Reports suggest a change might well happen at the end of the year with Levy unwilling to sanction a huge severance package, while others say this might be what the Argentine is angling for.

There is still, though, a chance he could salvage both Tottenham and his own reputation before the 2019/20 season is out – and you wouldn’t put it past him either given how he got them to the Champions League final with an out of form and injury hit side.

While they’ve won only three of their 12 matches, Spurs are still only three points off fifth-placed Sheffield United, given the chaotic nature of the top-flight so far this season.

So can Pochettino turn it around at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium?

Ahead of their game with West Ham on Saturday – live on talkSPORT – we’ve taken a look at five areas he needs to look at before the transfer window opens to salvage the campaign and potentially save his job,

Drop Serge Aurier and play Kyle Walker-Peters

One of Pochettino’s most baffling decisions across his six years as Spurs manager was to bring young right-back Walker-Peters into the first-team fold and then proceed to barely give him a chance and not send him out on loan to get valuable experience.

At this point in time, aged 22, he isn’t at the level required by the club to be a regular starter but he is by no means a bad player.

Last season he nabbed a hat-trick of assists in one game against Bournemouth and generally did okay in most appearances.

He also showed an excellent attitude following a mistake which led to a goal against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Walker-Peters picked up an injury during Spurs’ defeat by Newcastle and hasn’t started since
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Serge Aurier, on the hand, has been abysmal pretty much all season and has been a real disappointment, especially considering in the same summer Spurs could have signed Ricardo Pereira, who is now in scintillating form for Leicester City.

Juan Foyth currently looks like the most likely man to take up the right-back role until an actual specialist comes into the club of the required quality.

The problem, though, is the Argentine may well be needed at his more natural centre-back position with the futures of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in doubt and the latter well short of his best form.

As sad as it sounds, Pochettino’s continuing preference for Aurier is not doing him any favours with fans who find his this blind spot astonishing given the Ivory Coast international’s displays this season.

Walker-Peters playing might actually get some fans off his back and allow him some breathing space.

Serge Aurier gave away a late penalty at Liverpool and was sent off against Southampton
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Prime Ryan Sessegnon for a role at left-back

There was a time when Spurs’ full-backs were the jewels in their crown as Kyle Walker and Danny Rose flew down the flanks and scared opponents witless as they already attempted to contend with their formidable frontline.

Now, Aurier is a flop and both Rose and back up Ben Davies are in poor form, with the latter turning in a woeful showing against Sheffield United.

Sessegnon has, for the majority of his career, played as a left winger but many believe his best role could still be as a flying full-back.

If Pochettino can get the former Fulham man ready to step up and assume the role in the next few weeks he might have solved one major issue in his squad.

Many fans felt Sessegnon should have been used to help out Davies against the Blades in their last match but Pochettino didn’t and when both their disallowed goal and their eventually leveller came from that flank it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Ryan Sessegnon got an assist on his Champions League debut
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Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • West Ham vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Charlton vs Cardiff (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Arsenal vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Man City vs Chelsea (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Middlesbrough vs Hull (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2

Play Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso

Spurs’ club-record buy, Ndombele, and their superstar loan signing, Lo Celso, have only managed to start two games together this season.

This fact goes a long way to telling you what’s going on in north London right now.

In the pair’s second game together against Sheffield United – their first in the Premier League – they only managed 45 minutes on the pitch at the same time as Ndombele was forced off through injury.

Ndombele has impressed this season but is still coming to terms with the rigours of the Premier League
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Injuries have stopped this happening earlier too, something for which Pochettino has no control, but he must get the players on the pitch at the same time as often as possible if he’s to turn it around.

They have shown glimpses of forming part of a fine midfield though and if they can get more games together they will make Spurs formidable in the centre of the pitch.

One neat interchange against Sheffield United in their last outing cut open their opponents with ease and almost resulted in a goal. More of the same could save the Argentine.

Lo Celso shone for Spurs in Serbia against Red Star Belgrade
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Solve the Sissoko conundrum

Yes, Moussa Sissoko is undoubtedly one of the Premier League’s most improved midfielders, but there is one major problem.

Tottenham’s poor run of form domestically pretty much coincides with him becoming a regular in the first-team.

Up until October last season the midfielder was on the fringes in north London but injuries and illness saw him step up.

And he certainly put in some quality displays, a mark above the lacklustre and technically deficient showings fans were used to.

His heroic performance against Chelsea in late November was a high for the player and the club.

But following stunning wins over Everton and Bournemouth, by December Tottenham’s decline domestically started.

Moussa Sissoko represents a big problem for Mauricio Pochettino
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Sissoko’s exceptional improvement has perhaps masked he is still lacking in areas of his game and these really just hamstring Spurs.

Against Watford his inability to find quick forward passes to break through their midfield left him only able to move the ball sideways or backwards.

He barely offered some of the driving runs we saw him make last season either and he’s also making less tackles and interceptions too.

And this begs the question – why should he be in the first XI?

The answer is that he shouldn’t but can Pochettino work that out for himself? And can he create a balanced midfield without him?

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have not won a Premier League away game since January
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Get the ball to Harry Kane with a change of formation

As he’s proved on each international break so far, reports of the striker’s decline appear to be well off the mark.

He’s just as lethal and just as able to sniff out goals as he has ever been.

The major issue appears to be Spurs being able to get the ball to their star man in the right areas.

Spurs’ recent tendency to play narrow now seems to be the main reason behind his overall statistical drop off and it may be wise for Pochettino to change his tactics.

Harry Kane has scored six Premier League goals this season
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Playing with wide forwards alongside him for the Three Lions seems to be doing the trick even against defensive sides.

Pochettino might want to think long and hard about this option.

For a long time a 4-2-3-1 was getting the best out of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son and Kane.

A similar set-up could get things back on track and you can see what it might look like below.

Can this team save Pochettino’s season?

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT as we bring you THREE live Premier League commentaries across our network, including West Ham vs Tottenham at 12:30

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