As Tottenham prepare for the second game of the tour in North America against Toronto FC, Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to see improvement throughout the team.
It was a tough opening match for Tottenham against a confident and well-organised Seattle Sounders team who head the Western Conference of the MLS. Spurs showed determination to twice come from behind to earn a 3 – 3 draw and Mauricio Pochettino proclaimed himself to be “very pleased”.
In the Eastern Conference, Toronto are currently in 3rd place but have matches in hand. In their opening game of the season, Toronto achieved something Spurs couldn’t do, they won in Seattle through two goals from Jermain Defoe who has a total of 11 goals for the season, including two goals in a home win over Houston Dynamo just over a week ago. Since then Toronto drew at home with Vancouver Whitecaps and in the return match in Houston last Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino Wanting Improvement
In the match in Toronto, Pochettino will be looking for a number of things to show that the players and the team are moving in the right direction. Some areas where he will look for improvement are:
- With the World Cup players still to return to training, the tour is providing an opportunity for the squad to prove themselves to the new Head Coach. He has seen them in training over the past fortnight but now he wants to see them perform in a match situation. All of the players will want to improve on their display against Seattle.
- Players like Michael Dawson, Kyle Naughton and Danny Rose who played quite regularly last season but have been linked with a move away from Tottenham will want to show Pochettino that they will be of use to him.
- Players who are on the fringes of the squad or have been out on loan, will want to prove that they have a future at White Hart Lane – Iago Falque, Christian Ceballos, Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll.
- The younger players like Ryan Fredericks and Milos Veljkovic want to take this opportunity to show they should be a regular in the squad capable of stepping into the senior team as required.
Every member of the squad has something to prove.
- Against Seattle the defence was very uncertain and if the Sounders had taken their chances, Tottenham would have been reflecting on a less pleasing result. Pochettino will be looking to see the players working together as a unit rater than as individuals.
Playing out from the Back
- Defenders playing the ball out of defence is an important part of Mauricio Pochettino’s style of play. Unfortunately, in the opening game, too often Spurs defenders gave the ball away with a poor pass in a very dangerous position. This put the team under immediate pressure and many of Tottenham’s defensive problems were self-inflicted.
- Pochettino will be looking for the defenders to improve their passing now that they will be playing on grass rather than the artificial surface of Seattle.
Better Retention of Possession
- Spurs need to show much better retention and use of the ball when in possession. The ball was given away too often and too easily against a team who were into the tackle quickly. The lack of possession meant that Tottenham rarely showed as an attacking force in that first game.
Greater Threat Going Forward
- Spurs’ play, as I’ve said, lacked any real threat going forward. Apart from the opening goal, Spurs were grateful for two penalties to get them back on level terms. In the first half, Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon provided very little threat. They both need to be more involved and take greater responsibility. In the second half the introduction of Christian Caballos and later Iago Falque brought more variety to the team.
The pre-season games are all about preparation for the first Premier League game of the season but in each match Mauricio Pochettino will want to see improvements in the players individually and working as a team.