IF AUGUST bank holiday weekend already feels like a lifetime ago then spare a thought for the managers in opposing White Hart Lane dugouts for tonight’s Capital One Cup fixture.
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino, having won his first two Premier League games in charge, has tasted top-flight victory just once in seven attempts since then.
In that spell Spurs have lost at home to Liverpool, West Brom and, on Sunday, Newcastle in the kind of alarming slump run that has seen some of the Argentinian’s predecessors tossed out of N17.
Happily for Pochettino then, one of the few managers to have fared worse in that time is Sami Hyypia, the former Liverpool defender whose Brighton team provide the fourth round opposition.
The Seagulls have failed to win any of their 10 league matches since 23 August. Their only victories in that spell have come in the Capital One Cup: a 4-2 triumph at Swindon which went to extra time, and a 3-0 win at fourth-tier Burton.
Beating Brighton is unlikely to silence mutterings from the terraces about Pochettino’s suitability for the notoriously warm Tottenham hot-seat. Thursday’s rout of Greek side Asteras Tripolis crowned by Erik Lamela’s exquisite goal provided only fleeting relief, and that was soon emphatically punctured by Newcastle’s unexpected comeback.
But anything other than a place in the hat for the fifth round – albeit in a competition which tends to see Spurs field a weakened team – will only increase the pressure on the former Southampton manager.
Pochettino’s fine work on the south coast earned him a move, yet there is a peculiar correlation between his start with the Saints in January 2013 and Tottenham’s current struggles.
There he engineered just one win in his first seven fixtures before rattling off successive wins over Liverpool, Chelsea and Reading. Tonight, with defenders Federico Fazio and Kyle Naughton available again, he will be hoping for a similar turnaround in fortunes.
SINCE 24 AUGUST
Tottenham league form
LOST 3-0 v Liverpool (H)
DREW 2-2 v Sunderland (A)
LOST 1-0 v West Brom (H)
DREW 1-1 v Arsenal (A)
WON 1-0 v Southampton (H)
LOST 4-1 v Man City (A)
LOST 2-1 v Newcastle (H)