After the club’s most successful season in the Premier League era, where they finished third in the league and reached the final of the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur is in turmoil this season. The Spurs followed up a humbling 7–2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich with a dismal display in their 3–0 away defeat to Brighton on the weekend. These were two of the club’s worst performances since Mauricio Pochettino took over in 2014, prompting instant speculation about his job. The team looks like it lacks any sort of desire, and reports in recent days suggest that the manager has lost the dressing room. Chairman Daniel Levy will have a big decision to take on Pochettino, and he may look to Masai Ujiri, GM of the Toronto Raptors, for advice.
After the Raptors fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third year in a row in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Ujiri decided that it was time for a change. He had constructed a very talented roster but, in his opinion, they had gotten as far as they could. So despite the team winning 59 games and landing the top seed in the conference, the Raptors GM decided to fire reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, and replaced him with Nick Nurse — a man who had never coached an NBA game. But that was only the half of it. Ujiri then traded the Raptors’ longtime star and fan favorite DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for superstar Kawhi Leonard, who was coming off a season where he played less than ten games due to injury. To compound the risk, Leonard was in the last year of his contract.
As we all know, the gamble turned out pretty well for the Raptors. With Leonard leading the squad, Toronto managed to finally get through the East and defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games to win the NBA Finals for the first championship in the franchise’s history.
Now I’m not trying to imply that Tottenham can go on and win the Champions League if they sack Pochettino or sell star striker Harry Kane, but one thing is for certain: something needs to change. This is a talented Spurs side with quality players in most positions, but they are still a long way off Manchester City and Liverpool in England, let alone the rest of Europe. Last season, everyone had bought in to Pochettino’s style and, having played in the same system for the prior four years, the side was well-organized and together. But this group has run its course. It took everything out of both Pochettino and the players to reach the final last season, and losing to Liverpool just crushed the spirit of this team. Many of their stars are also on the wrong side of 30 now.
So while Pochettino built a great side at Tottenham and propelled the club to new heights, Daniel Levy must realize that times need changing. Whether it’s Pochettino who must go, or some of the aging stars, Tottenham needs a jolt of energy, and it’s down to Levy to provide that.