Comparing Mauricio Pochettino’s first Spurs XI to team which beat Man Utd

Quick Reads

Tottenham may not have won any trophies under Mauricio Pochettino, but their team has improved dramatically since the Argentine took charge.

The likes of Vlad Chiriches, Sandro and Paulinho started the final game of the pre-Pochettino era, but it did not take long for the former Southampton manager to stamp his mark.

We’ve looked at the first ever starting XI he picked for a competitive game in 2014 and compared it to the team that faced Manchester United in September 2018 as Spurs started a Premier League season with three straight wins for only the second time.

Hugo Lloris – Hugo Lloris

Pochettino has been lucky to be able to build a team on the foundations of one of the best goalkeepers in the world, with Lloris signed by Andre Villas-Boas a couple of years earlier.

However, Lloris clearly believes he has benefited from the relationship just as much as his manager.

“Certainly, my destiny is linked to Mauricio. He matters a lot to me. Our relationship goes beyond football, it’s a match, and one day he will be the best manager in the world.”

Kyle Naughton – Kieran Trippier

Naughton did not make the best of first impressions on Pochettino, getting sent off after just 29 minutes in the Argentine’s opening match, and he would go on to make just four further Premier League appearances for Spurs before being sold to Swansea.

But one of Pochettino’s biggest success stories has been the improvement in Spurs’ full-backs.

Kyle Walker was already an England international when the manager arrived, but he improved to such an extent that Manchester City paid £50million to sign him in 2017, at the time making him the world’s most expensie defender.

In his absence, Kieran Trippier enjoyed a brilliant season, which ended with him starring at the World Cup and briefly make a nation believe.


Younes Kaboul – Toby Alderweireld

Having won the League Cup, helped the side qualify for the Champions League and scored a winner in a North London Derby at Arsenal, Kaboul will be remembered fondly among Tottenham supporters.

However, after starting Pochettino’s first season as club captain, Kaboul made only 11 league appearances and left for Sunderland in the following summer.

Alderweireld, meanwhile, has been nothing short of a revelation since moving to England, first with Southampton and then with Spurs, after Pochettino recognised the club could not afford to miss out on the defender.

The Belgian now forms one half of one of the best centre-back partnerships in the country.

Eric Dier – Jan Vertonghen

Dier arrived at Tottenham as an intriguing case. An English player reared at Sporting Lisbon, he has become one of Pochettino’s most trusted performers since scoring a 93rd-minute winner at West Ham on his debut.

Now an England international and linked with moves to Manchester United and Bayern Munich, Pochettino has turned Dier into an excellent holding midfielder who can operate at centre-back from time to time.

Vertonghen. meanwhile, is now one of Spurs’ longest serving players. Signed by Andre Villas-Boas in 2012, he is now into his seventh season as a regular in the heart of Spurs’ defence and in 2017 was nominated for the Premier League’s Player of the Season award.


Danny Rose – Danny Rose

“The manager came in and spoke with me, I was one of the first people he spoke to,” Rose told Tottenham’s official website in 2016. “He said if I entered into his philosophy, he would make me into an England player, so he’s been true to his word.”

Rose was not a particularly popular player at White Hart Lane prior to Pochettino’s arrival, but he has benefitted more than most from the Argentine’s coaching and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for two years in a row in 2016 and 2017.

Known as “the gaffer’s son” among the Spurs squad, Rose said of Pochettino: “He’s been like a father figure to myself and a lot of the players here.”

Nabil Bentaleb – Eric Dier

Bentaleb was one of the success stories of Pochettino’s first season, impressing enough in midfield to earn a new five-year contract. But the follow season brought suggestions of a fall-out with the manager and only five league appearances.

Dier has taken on the role admirably and is now into his fifth season as a regular, despite added competition from Victor Wanyama.

Etienne Capoue – Mousa Dembele

Capoue joined Tottenham with a promising reputation, but he never truly established himself at White Hart Lane, making 12 league appearances in both of his campaigns with the club, though he has since gone on to impress at Watford.

Dembele, however, has been nothing short of a revelation under Pochettino, though the Spurs boss maybe went a tad far with his praise in March 2017.

“I always say ‘Mousa, in my book you will be one of my genius players that I have been lucky to meet’,” Pochettino said. “One was Maradona, the others Ronaldinho, Okocha and De la Pena – he was a genius too – and Mousa Dembele.

“We always told him that if we had taken him at 18 or 19 years old, he would have become one of the best players in the world. I would have loved to have taken him on at 18.”


Erik Lamela – Dele Alli

Lamela had endured a disappointing first season at White Hart Lane when Pochettino took over, but he has improved to the extent that in 2018 he signed a new four-year contract.

Injuries have held him back at times, but he remains an important part of Pochettino’s squad – though certainly not as important as Alli.

David Pleat takes the credit for spotting the midfielder playing for MK Dons, and Pochettino also deserves credit for giving the youngster an opportunity so early, but the man mose deserving of praise is Alli himself having grabbed that opportunity with both hands and never looked back.

Christian Eriksen – Christian Eriksen

Tottenham knew they had a potential star on their hands when they signed Eriksen from Ajax in 2013, but it did take some coaxing out of the Denmark international.

Fortunately, the demanding style of Pochettino has suited the attacking midfielder, who has improved season upon season, culminating in him being named in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time in 2018.

He takes a decent free-kick, too.


Aaron Lennon – Lucas Moura

Lennon was a loyal servant to Tottenham, making 364 appearances in all competitions for the club and being involved in the run to the Champions League quarter-finals, but by the time Pochettino arrived his career was starting to stagnate, and come January 2015 he was on his way to Everton.

Moura joined Spurs from PSG three years later and after being used sparingly in his first half-season at the club, he looks like being a key member of the team this season.


Emmanuel Adebayor – Harry Kane

It seems strange looking back to think that Adebayor, and not Kane, started Pochettino’s first competitive match in charge, but the Togo striker had enjoyed a mini resurgence under Tim Sherwood in the previous season – who can forget *that* salute?

But by November, Pochettino could not ignore Kane’s form in the cup competitions any longer and handed the striker his first league start of the season. Neither player nor manager has looked back since, with Kane becoming the poster boy for Pochettino’s Tottenham.

He has already scored more Premier League goals than Adebayor managed in his career.

More Tottenham

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Where are they now? Tottenham’s first starting XI under Harry Redknapp