IT HAS taken a few difficult months but yesterday we witnessed signs that Mauricio Pochettino has finally got Tottenham’s players buying into his vision of a high-energy, high-work rate team.
You always need individuals to set examples in that respect and nobody is leading the way in getting stuck in like Harry Kane. The home-grown youngster is even getting strike partner Roberto Soldado giving that bit more than before – and it paid off against a good Everton side.
Spurs gave very little away, and for all the skill of Moussa Dembele, Erik Lamela and Paulinho, it is the likes of Kane, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb who seem to have the qualities Pochettino demands.
The former Southampton boss seems to have told his men: “Guarantee me work rate and you’ll get in my team.” Graft is the starting point, with some flair on the side. If Dembele, Lamela and Paulinho want to start games, that is what will be expected.
Results buy you time and now Tottenham and Pochettino can prepare for a potentially very interesting midweek game at Chelsea with a weight lifted from their shoulders.
Nobody is getting much from Jose Mourinho’s runaway leaders at the moment, so Spurs can go to Stamford Bridge to face a Blues team missing top scorer Diego Costa knowing even defeat would not drain confidence.
Victory at Southampton completed a perfect week for Manchester City, following their improbable Champions League comeback win over Bayern Munich in midweek.
That result, combined with Chelsea’s slip at Sunderland on Saturday, gave them huge boosts before the trip to St Mary’s and they took full advantage to move to within six points of the top.
Pellegrini has been under pressure due to their European failings, but they still have a good chance of reaching the last 16. He also seems to be popular with the players. Things can change quickly in football, but the Chilean’s position looks to be safe for now.
City will have headed back to Manchester happy, and hoping to trim that lead even further by succeeding where the Blues failed at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday – and willing Tottenham to produce another diligent performance at the Premier League leaders.
Trevor Steven is a former England international who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.