Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino: Progress is a process 2

Tottenham played very well against Queens Park Rangers last weekend, so defeat to Liverpool yesterday was always likely to provoke an overreaction of sorts.  The ‘what new era’ mindset of some of the fans seems to be confirmation that impatience and alarmism are still alive and well in the game.

Team-building is not a binary process and Spurs were never going to be instantly cured by Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival.

Liverpool very much held Tottenham at arm’s length at White Hart Lane and it provided a dispiriting contrast to what had happened seven days previously - how could it not be, all of the intent and pace that were notable during that QPR game was conspicuous by their absence yesterday.

The reversion to negativity is dispiriting, though.  Just as victory over QPR had been merely a symptom of change and an early indication of progress,  defeat to Liverpool represents a learning experience and clear demonstration of where the fragility lies in this team.  Mauricio Pochettino’s system is tactically complex and, for some of the players at White Hart Lane, it will involve changing habits that have been acquired throughout the entire duration of their career.  That just doesn’t happen within the space of three months.

Pochettino can spend as much time on the training-pitch as he wants and he can lecture his players to within an inch of their sanity, but unless that coaching is accompanied by real-world experiences - similar to what occurred yesterday - it will only have a limited impact.  The Argentinian will review the tape of yesterday’s game, analyse the areas in which his side were weak, and react accordingly; that’s management and, also, that’s really how a team improves.  Tottenham will see Liverpool again this season and next, and those will be the games after which conclusions will actually have some resonance.

The football world may fall over itself to acclaim Brendan Rodgers now, but it’s worth remembering that it took him over a year to create the Liverpool side that he’s currently doing so well with.  Yes, there have been some transfer dealings that have aided that process, but more importantly it took that amount of time before the squad was functioning in accordance with his philosophies.  Sure, they look great now, but think back to Rodgers’ first season at Anfield: losing home and away to West Brom, a thumping home defeat to Aston Villa, home draws with West Ham and Newcastle, and getting knocked-out of the FA Cup by Oldham.  It was no picnic in the beginning, Rodgers and his players had to adjust to each other and there was definitely an element of trial and error at work.

Avoid the sneering and brush off Martin Samuel’s little barbs in the paper this morning, this is a process - it might not be successful, but fans have to accept that progress is incremental and it doesn’t necessarily come easily.


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