NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 251
Submitted by Norman Giller
Anybody who saw Mauricio Pochettino in his playing days with Argentina, Espanyol and Paris Saint-Germain will confirm that in countryman Juan Foyth he is moulding a clone of himself.
The Poch was a tough-tackling, thoughtful central defender, who put the team requirements first at all times. He did not believe in taking prisoners and kept a procession of top strikers under lock and key.
He was hard but honest, and still grumbles over a penalty awarded against him for a tackle on Michael Owen in the 2002 World Cup finals. Mauricio insists to this day that he did not touch the England goal poacher and claims it was a high-tariff dive that led to David Beckham scoring the only goal of the match from the penalty spot.
Since signing Foyth from crack Argentine club Estudiantes for a bargain £8m he has taken the youngster under his wing like a big brother, and has been teaching him the smart way to defend.
Pochettino always mixed muscle with method, and the first thing he did was to get Foyth to improve his physique and fitness by encouraging him to work overtime in the gymnasium. He was a slim, rangy 19-year-old when he arrived last summer but has bulked up and is now a cruiserweight with formidable strength.
Next on the agenda was one-on-one coaching sessions, with Poch passing on tips on how to be the penalty area guvnor in Premier League contests, improving Juan’s positional play and positivity in counter attacks.
The reward for the concentrated work by the two Argentines came at Palace on Saturday, when Foyth not only defended with intelligence and determination but got the goal that extended Tottenham’s impressive run of away wins – as reported here by our guru Paul H. Smith.
Foyth – ‘Juan Of Our Own’, they were chanting at the Palace – is in the foothills of his career, but his potential is immense. Spurs can be relaxed about the possibility of losing Toby Alderweireld, because in Davinson Sanchez and Foyth they have exceptional centre-backs who would walk into most first-team squads.
Sanchez and Foyth share Spanish as their first language and have become good companions on and off the pitch. Both are among the huge contingent of Tottenham players on duty in the upcoming international break, and Pochettino will be praying that they all come through unscathed as the Tottenham injury list grows.
They come back to a challenging run of fixtures that includes matches against Chelsea, Inter Milan and two North London Derbies with that other team from down the road via Woolwich.
The Poch will want as strong a squad as possible, so – please – no more injuries as we wait for reinforcements to arrive in January.
A final thought on the win against Palace: wasn’t it great to see Moussa Sissoko making the keyboard warriors crawl back into their holes? Regular readers of my ramblings here at Spurs Odyssey will know I have been battling to get him the recognition he deserves for his skill and unselfish water carrying that brings team-mates into play.
Tottenham sit fourth in the table without yet getting consistently into top gear. Let’s all try a little of the positivity that Pochettino is drilling into ‘Juan of our own’ Foyth.
May the Foyth be with Spurs.
Question No 13 in this 2018-19 SOQL season:
Who started as a youth player with Middlesbrough, played once for Scotland, scored an FA Cup final goal for Spurs, and with which player was he swapped in 1968?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL13@normangillerbooks.com. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
This year’s prizes for the champion: two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
There will also be a special bonus prize that I will announce later in the season. I promise it’s a collector’s item for anybody who follows the mighty Spurs.
Last week I asked: Who has won 17 international caps, has collected the Rinus Michels’ Player of the Year award, and from which club did he join Spurs?
This gave a lot of you problems, but eventually most of you came up with the correct answer: Davinson Sanchez, who first made a name for himself with Ajax. In the years ahead, I expect to see a Davinson-Foyth axis becoming as successful as the Alderweireld-Vertonghen combination.
Please keep a check on your scores. I will be trusting you to count your points as I do not have faith in my email server.
Thank you for taking part. See you back here same time, same place next week. Keep the faith. COYS!
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