Harry Kane sums up Tottenham‘s current woes. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP
Harry Kane sums up Tottenham‘s current woes. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP

Will Spurs ever get their mojo back?

In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the legendary spy's sexual prowess is diminished after he is robbed of his mojo, the essence of his erotic drive, his potency with the opposite sex and the key to his legend as an international man of mystery.

Without his mojo, Powers is rendered impotent and must travel back in time to recover what was stolen in order to become his true shagadelic self once more.

One would imagine that if Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino could travel back in time, it would be to May 2019, to the night of the Champions League final against Liverpool. That was the night Spurs' mojo disappeared and since that defeat, the boys from White Hart Lane, sorry - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - have been utterly ineffectual.

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Seventh in the table doesn't seem that bad after nine games - but Tottenham's record is shocking. Three wins, three draws and three defeats, with 13 goals conceded. And that's just in the league.

Amid a period of intense fragility for the club, the humiliating 7-2 Champions League shellacking at the hands of Bayern Munich was the nadir of Pochettino's otherwise brilliant reign in north London.

In his five-and-a-half years at the club, the Argentine rebuilt a brand new Tottenham in his own image. No longer the nearly, flaky, "Spursy" teams of old - Poch's Spurs are intelligent, aggressive, athletic and clinical, a squad of genuine talent led by their homegrown matchwinner Harry Kane, one of the top natural strikers in the world.

Tottenham have been exceptional under Pochettino - but they haven't been winners. Their highest league finish was second to Leicester in 2016, they have failed to make any domestic cup finals and then there was that night in Madrid.

To lose the club's first ever Champions League final was a devastating blow for Pochettino.

For man who believes in "universal energy", that "that people, places and things are charged with a hidden energy … Nothing happens [by accident]", to be defeated by a team they know so well and have pushed so hard over recent seasons in such a lacklustre display - it is no surprise he admitted he didn't go outside for 10 days afterwards.

 

 

Kane can’t hide during the loss to Brighton. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Kane can’t hide during the loss to Brighton. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

The concern now is whether that fruitless final was the high watermark for Poch's Spurs. For most clubs it would have been the signal to spend money and make the squad stronger, as Liverpool did when the spent $125 million on a goalkeeper, following the nightmare against Real Madrid.

But Pochettino got no such support from Tottenham's board. Midfielders Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon arrived for a combined $150 million but, useful as they are, neither are players to drive the club to greater heights.

The frustration over incomings was only bettered by the frustration over outgoings. Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were all expected to leave before their contracts expire but no deals went through and that energy Pochettino's believes in appears to be stuck in a feedback loop.

Six regular starters have been at the club since 2013, 10 of the team that lost to Brighton have been there since 2016 - and Tottenham now have the fourth-oldest team in the Premier League. The time to strengthen a successful squad is passing by - soon it will require full reassembly.

Does Pochettino have the patience and, crucially, the financial backing of notoriously scrupulous chairman Daniel Levy, to start again when his reputation could still take him to Manchester United or Real Madrid?

Without the support to bring in fresh faces and positive energy, the squad that was on the verge of great things is now on the brink of implosion.

The narrative around Tottenham now is of an end of an era, that Poch has dragged the club as far as he can and that without a significant upturn in results, the end might be near. The chance to join the big boys might just have passed them by.

 

Son Heung-Min has been one of the bright spots for Spurs. Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Son Heung-Min has been one of the bright spots for Spurs. Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images

 

The midweek Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade was Poch's Spurs at their best - fizzing and freewheeling around the pitch, creating and running into space and tearing into a wide-eyed opposition.

But this kind of performance has been too rare this season and Red Star were too willing to reasonably argue Tottenham are turning a corner.

So if it is energy Pochettino wants, a trip to Anfield should surely summon plenty. A game to, briefly, make amends for Madrid, a chance to be brave once again. The best chance Spurs have to rediscover their mojo before it's too late.

Liverpool's winning run was halted by Manchester United but the Reds are still unbeaten this season - and haven't lost at home in 42 games.

Spurs are already 13 points behind the leaders, have lost eight of their last 10 away games and Poch's desire for brave football makes it highly unlikely they will set up as defensively as United did to counter Liverpool's many threats.

So Poch's Spurs must play with energy, with bravery. They must play as if their mojo never went away. Because if they don't it might never come back. And that would not be groovy, baby.

News Corp Australia


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