New hero for new improved Spurs


New hero for new improved Spurs

The England U21 international provided the perfect ending as Spurs halted a run of defeats against West Ham United, and the new regime enjoyed the perfect start to the new season. Sam Allardyce’s old problems, meanwhile, only continue after this late, late 1-0 defeat. The pressure on him remains.

With both sides reduced to 10 men for red cards, shown to Kyle Naughton and then James Collins, the game had seemed to be petering out to a 0-0 draw. It would have been one that Allardyce could still feel more aggrieved with, not least after Mark Noble missed the penalty from Naughton’s red-card handball and all the chances his team missed.

Even before Spurs’s stoppage-time winner, Stewart Downing had the chance to win it.

Then, it got a whole lot worse for West Ham. For Dier, it couldn’t have got much better.

After sub Harry Kane expertly exploited the home side’s offside line, Dier sharply rounded Adrian to roll the ball in for a late winner, and an utterly glorious debut.

It was quite a return to England, given that Dier moved to Portugal when he was just 10-years-old. Pochettino beamed with delight.

“I’m very pleased for him,” the new Spurs boss said. “It was his debut. And, like all the team, it was a great performance.”

This was not just a new name to get excited about, though. It was also a potential sign of a new Tottenham. The club has become notorious for its collapses in recent years, with that weakness appearing to come to a head last season, particularly after red cards. Here it was the opposite, and Pochettino made a point of repeatedly stressing that “philosophy”.

“This is our philosophy,” the manager said. “Believe, always, 90-95 minutes, believe in winning the game. This is our philosophy. Always play in the opponents’ goal and try to win every game.”

That fortitude was all the more important because this was not the most impressive display. The new era evidently hasn’t yet seen Pochettino apply the best of his approach. The pressing and possession he has become so renowned for was not visible here.

That meant Spurs were oftenunder pressure, especially in the opening 28 minutes. Although Pochettino justifiably felt the red card for Naughton was “unfair” after a Kevin Nolan shot smashed into the defender’s raised arms, it was the consequence of concerted West Ham attacking. There was still no end product, though, as Noble rolled the penalty wide.

It was just one of many moments in which West Ham were off-target. Allardyce was left to lament a familiar failing, which was all the more galling because this had been a genuinely proactive performance.

“I can’t complain about the performance, can’t complain about the football played,” the West Ham manager said.

“I can complain about the fact we didn’t finish well enough, didn’t finish clinically.

“On that performance today, I’m very confident our season’s going to be a very, very good one.”

Allardyce did have one other complaint: a “naivety” in his team allowing themselves to go down to 10 men, as Collins was sent off for a second booking after a body-check on Emmanuel Adebayor.

That let Spurs go on to win it. Afterwards, Pochettino was asked if his team were lucky.

“No,” he firmly asserted. “Because when you believe, when you have a plan… in football sometimes things happen that are difficult to manage but the team believe.”

That belief will not exactly be damaged after a win like this.

New season… new Spurs?

WEST HAM UNITED: Adrian; O’Brien (Demel 61), Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Downing, Kouyate, Nolan, Noble, Vaz Te (Diame 68); Collins.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Dier, Rose; Bentaleb, Capoue; Lamela (Holtby 61), Eriksen, Lennon (Townsend 61); Adebayor (Kane 83).

Referee: Chris Foy.

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