Tottenham’s head of recruitment quits after dream job turns into nightmare
The resignation on Tuesday of the head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell, who boiled over with frustration and felt that he could not continue, offered a reminder of the constraints in his area at the club – and the pressures to deliver for Levy. Mitchell will serve a period of notice, which will go beyond the end of the summer transfer window.
Pochettino has offloaded Federico Fazio to Roma on loan and sold Alex Pritchard to Norwich City for £8m. Nabil Bentaleb will also leave, having not been involved with the squad during pre-season. This is typical of Pochettino. If a player is not a part of his plans, he wants them a long way from the group. The feeling has been that Pochettino does not trust the midfielder in possession. Bentaleb has been guilty of losing the ball in risky areas, which is not something that Dier or Dembélé do.
There is little else to be trimmed, apart from DeAndre Yedlin and possibly Clinton Njie, and Pochettino will rely on the club’s academy-developed talent to fill in any gaps. The fourth-choice centre-half will be Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has been likened to Ledley King in terms of physique and temperament, and Shayon Harrison could be an option behind Kane and Janssen up front.
Kyle Walker-Peters has the advantage of being able to play at left-back as well as right-back and there are high hopes for Josh Onomah, an England team-mate from July’s European Under-19 Championship. The midfielder is maturing physically and everybody at the club seems to love him. Ditto another midfielder, Harry Winks, and then there is the 17-year-old Marcus Edwards, around whom there is such a buzz. The little No10, who has a sweet left foot and low centre of gravity, is expected to make his first-team debut this season.
Pochettino has faith in the club’s academy players – and in himself to bring them on – and he has faith in what is a young first XI, in which the vast majority are only going to get better. There is the sense of momentum, a connection between fans and the team and it has added up to a rare feelgood factor, particularly when the Champions League and the stadium are considered.
Tottenham will play their European ties at Wembley this season and their matches in all competitions there next time out, as the work on their new home is finished, and the prospect of a partisan 90,000 in attendance at the national stadium is thrilling for them. The club have 51,000 supporters on a paid-for waiting list for season tickets.
The large surface at Wembley should also help. Pochettino has mentioned how White Hart Lane is one of the tightest pitches in the league and perhaps it might work against them when visiting teams sit deep and mass men behind the ball.
Mauricio Pochettino is determined to make stars, rather than buy them, and he leads from the front with his work ethic and attention to detail. Photograph: Adam Holt/Reuters
The stadium is rising fast. The north-east corner of the existing ground has been demolished and, with the bottom and first floors completed on the new one, the work on level two can begin. By the end of the year, it will stand five storeys tall – higher than White Hart Lane. That will be when people truly realise it is coming.
There was much to like about Tottenham last season and, even in the explosive 2-2 draw at Chelsea, when they had nine men booked and their title hopes perished, Pochettino was delighted to see the collective fight. No longer, he said, could Tottenham be viewed as soft touches. On the other hand, the loss of composure after Eden Hazard’s 83rd-minute equaliser, when there was still time for the winning goal, was comprehensive.
Pochettino is hopeful that his players have learned from that lesson and others, and he has targeted a fast start, as rival teams bed in their signings. Tottenham are settled and the club feel secure – they have finished in the top six in each of the past seven seasons and three times in the top four. They have a magnificent training ground and, in two years’ time, they will have the largest club stadium in London. There is plenty to look forward to. Pochettino has stoked the anticipation.