Soccer-Spurs hope Pochettino can find path back to glory days


By Mike Collett

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur have been one of the most consistent clubs in the Premier League over the last five seasons but they will be delighted to lose that tag under new Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Because, despite having a talented squad with great depth, young home-grown players breaking into the first team, regular European football and the expected start to building work on a new 58,000-seater stadium, Tottenham have under-achieved year after year.

Since he took over in 2001 the goal of chairman Daniel Levy has been to turn Tottenham back into the title-winning, or at least title-challenging, elite European outfit they were in the early 1960s. But so far he has failed.

For the last five seasons Spurs have finished 4th, 5th, 4th, 5th and 6th. Pochettino is the 10th coach Levy has worked with in 13 years.

In an interview in this month's Four Four Two magazine, Pochettino, 42 and previously in charge of Southampton, exuded positive feelings about the challenge he faces.

"In England major goals can be achieved, no matter how complicated or out of reach they may seem.

"You see Liverpool, Tottenham, (Manchester) City, Chelsea, Arsenal, (Manchester) United, Everton - teams with good footballers, capable of being at the top of the table with the conviction they can win the Premier League.

"This is not a two-club league," he said, "there will be more clubs fighting for it."

Perhaps Pochettino could be the one who succeeds where his predecessors failed, and he has enjoyed a positive pre-season build-up with Spurs unbeaten so far.

The most revealing aspect of the warm-ups was the form and appetite shown by Eric Lamela and Roberto Soldado, two of the seven players who arrived at Spurs a year ago when Gareth Bale went to Real Madrid for a world-record 85 million pounds ($143 million).

Spurs spent a club-record fee of 30 million pounds on Lamela, 26 million on Soldado, 17 million on Paulinho and another 35 million on four others including Christian Eriksen from Ajax Amsterdam, the only one of the seven to make any real impact. Lamela and Soldado were particularly poor.

With Spurs failing to gel, coach Andre Villas-Boas was axed in December and his replacement Tim Sherwood was jettisoned at the end of the season.

Spurs turned to Pochettino, impressed by his work at Southampton who finished eighth last season, following on from his achievements at Espanyol.

In contrast to last summer, and by their own previous standards, Spurs have hardly dipped a toe in the transfer market yet.

Defenders Ben Davies and Eric Dier, and goalkeeper Michel Vorm, are the only arrivals. Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is the only notable departure as Pochettino reshapes his squad and Spurs try again to break back into, and stay among, the elite.

($1=0.5934 British Pounds) (Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Robert Woodward)

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