Squad balancing act required during busy period

Mauricio Pochettino now finds himself at that busy point in the season when difficult decisions pop up all the time. Who to rest? Who to protect? Many of his players have injury issues in need of careful attention. We’re getting to the stage when those who didn’t get much rest after the World Cup could easily hit the wall without sensitive handling.

As a result, the Tottenham manager will be looking at least two or three games ahead to try and find the right balance between picking the best team and avoiding further injury.

Not only that, he’s got to juggle cup commitments with an unremitting league campaign and perhaps decide where his priorities lie.

Having climbed back above Arsenal after beating Southampton on Wednesday, Pochettino obviously wants to keep pushing in the Premier League. Now that the Gunners appear to have rejoined the party, it looks like two from three for third and fourth place. And for Spurs, missing out on a Champions League place would be a huge blow as the club prepares to herald a new era with a stadium move costing quite a few quid.

But this is why managers get paid the big bucks – to make certain calls at crucial times. From the outside, the decision to leave out Toby Alderweireld from the north London derby was baffling, especially when young Juan Foyth went on to struggle.

But Pochettino clearly had his reasons. Alderweireld played in the vital tie with Inter Milan and I’m sure he’ll be selected for the Nou Camp showdown. Perhaps that opens a window into the boss’s mind. He wants his best defender fresh for the Champions League.

As a manager of some standing, Pochettino will be keen to protect his reputation by progressing in Europe. Apart from winning the league, the Argentine has proved himself on the domestic scene by turning Spurs into a formidable outfit capable of going the distance.

Most managers have egos in need of massage. Failing at the group stage wouldn’t feel good at all when all the top coaches will be jousting next year in the knockout rounds. Nobody of substance wants to miss out on that.

At this level and at this stage of the season, that’s what makes managers’ decisions so interesting and also so difficult. Keeping the show on the road isn’t easy at all.

(Evening Standard)

Share the Post:

Related Posts