Football

Shrewd Spurs look to catch Chelsea cold

File photo of Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino

File photo of Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino   | Photo Credit: Stephen Brashear

Having kept its core players together, Tottenham is in imperious form; Conte’s side, on the other hand, has had starting trouble

Continuity is rare these days in football. It’s even more difficult with a tight-fisted chairman like Daniel Levy, who sets the weekly wage ceiling at £100,000 even for top players worth double that.

Nevertheless, Levy has managed to hold on to Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive core. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once remarked that hip surgery was more enjoyable than finding common ground with Levy on matters of money.

During the past 10 summers, Levy has signed 44 first-team players and 20 of those deals have been completed after the season has started. Seventeen have arrived on deadline day or in the preceding 48 hours.

But this tendency has not deterred Mauricio Pochettino in pre-season. The manager has used it as an opportunity to graduate academy players to the senior set-up.

Right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, a World Cup winner with England Under-20, repaid the faith with a fabulous performance in the opener against Newcastle United.

Pochettino, in an interview to Guardian, said he spends three days a week with academy players to drum his ideas into them. His philosophy runs through all levels.

On the other hand, Chelsea coach Antonio Conte — Pochettino’s counterpart at Wembley on Sunday — has preferred expensive buys. The Italian has shown no inclination to promote academy talent and has been at loggerheads with the club hierarchy to bring in ‘experienced’ players with no re-sale value.

He has also allowed Nemanja Matic, Nathaniel Chalobah, Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to leave, either permanently or on loan.

Without the injured Eden Hazard and Matic, the defending champion was short on any kind of combination going forward in the opening-day defeat to Burnley.

For Sunday’s game, Chelsea will be further depleted by the suspensions of Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill. Pochettino meanwhile is likely to be rewarded for his faith in his philosophy and continuity.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:33:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/shrewd-spurs-look-to-catch-chelsea-cold/article19520013.ece

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