Tottenham invaded the established elite of English football through team unity, youth energy and a common goal created by coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Over five years of Pochettino's inauguration, everything seems to be escaping.
And he knows that.
Colchester's humiliating fourth-division elimination in the English League Cup on penalties on Tuesday sparked Pochettino's honest reflection on his team's current dynamic.
"Maybe our performances are good, but you need this extra connection – which is mental -" said the Argentine. “It's energy to be all together, not having different schedules on the team. We need time again to create the union you need when competing at this level. "
Pochettino talked about the need for time to put players "on the same page", about the need for two transfer windows to "fix this kind of situation and fix it".
In essence, Pochettino is saying there are divisions in his team that will need to be updated and even rebuilt.
The oldest Premier League coach working only in the first division, is Pochettino the man to do this work and inject some freshness?
The Spurs are in the midst of a long routine that, paradoxically, includes a spectacular run into the Champions League final, where they lost to Liverpool in June.
Given all the games since mid-February, they have won eight out of 26. This season, they are just two wins from their eight games in all competitions, and the record includes a home loss to Newcastle, a 2-2 loss. 2. 0 leads to a 2-2 draw with Olympiakos in the Champions League, and now a first hurdle departure from a cup competition at the expense of a 71-seat lower team in the English football pyramid.
The last out-of-league win came on January 20 against a Fulham team looking to relegate.
Here are some of the main issues Pochettino faces:
It seems that some players no longer want to be at Tottenham, and other senior team members are restless.
Christian Eriksen is an obvious example, having said on offseason that he was interested in "trying something new" in the interest of Real Madrid. Denmark's midfielder has only started four of Tottenham's eight games this season.
Like Eriksen, quarterbacks Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are in the final year of their contracts. Vertonghen, widely recognized as Tottenham's best defender, missed the team's first three league games.
Then there are England internationals Dele Alli and Eric Dier who are no longer the flavor of the month. Alli's fall, which used to have such a good relationship with Harry Kane at the front, was marked, while the first minutes of Dier's season were against Tuesday against Colchester.
The closure of the European transfer window on September 2 should unify an unstable team, ending uncertainty around some players, but that does not seem to be the case.
In the early days of Pochettino's reign, Tottenham – an oppressed struggling to mix it with the country's biggest clubs – stood out because of the cohesion of their young and starving team, but also by the intensity of their team.
Pep Guardiola, for example, said he was impressed by the energy of Tottenham's suffocating press when he fell to his first loss as Manchester City manager 2-0 in October 2016 on former White Hart Lane.
The current Tottenham team does not seem to have these qualities, with midfield center a specific problem for Pochettino. Mousa Dembele used to set Spurs' tone with his technique, driving moves and press intensity, and he had a great partnership with Vincent Wanyama.
Out-of-season signing Tanguy Ndombele may be a long-term replacement for Dembele, but Pochettino's favorite central midfielder seems to be Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks, who seem to be unable to control the matches. Tottenham have played their chances against Arsenal, Olympiakos and Leicester this season.
Does Pochettino already know more about his best initial training?
Who is the first choice right after Kieran Trippier's departure? When will he give Eriksen a sustained race in the team? Where does Alli now fit in? Why is Kane playing so deeply these days?
Pochettino has never had so much depth in his midfield attack options, mostly, but he doesn't seem to have settled into a formation.
"To maintain the period of success in football, you have to be different each season, act differently and find a different solution," said Pochettino. "Maybe we need to do something different."
Tottenham, who are seventh in the Premier League after two wins in their first six games, have a series of benign games to gain momentum this season, with the next three against Southampton, Brighton and Watford.
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