If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, is what they say, and doesn’t Mauricio Pochettino know it?
No one feels the weight of the old cliche more so than Pochettino, who is still waiting for a signing — any signing … his club’s first and maybe only signing of the summer — to be made. With the transfer window set to close in 11 days, Tottenham Hotspur have done nothing.
No ins and no outs, though the vast majority of rumors involving last season’s third-place finishers in the Premier League have been of the outgoing variety. Mousa Dembele, Toby Aldeweireld and Danny Rose have all, at one point or another, been on the brink of a move away from the new White Hart Lane, only for nothing to happen, mercifully.
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All of this has occurred — again — despite the fact Pochettino was reportedly given every assurance otherwise by chairman Daniel Levy during end-of-season talks amid rumors linking the Argentine with a number of arguably bigger, better jobs just two months ago.
Now, after weeks of preseason training and a handful of friendlies in the United States, injuries are beginning to pile up, and the midfield, which was already paper thin to begin with — Dembele, Eric Dier and Dele Alli are yet to return from their post-World Cup breaks — has been decimated. Victor Wanyama departed the group on Saturday to be seen by a doctor back in London, then Moussa Sissoko suffered and injury of his own during a friendly with Barcelona.
Pochettino is saying all the right things publicly, but if you read between the lines of the following press-conference exchange, transcribed by Football.London, a fairly bleak picture has been painted.
Q: Do these injuries make it more important to get transfers done?
A: “I think we’re going to, sure, see what happens in the next few days. If you say we need to sign there, maybe, but with or without injuries that was our target after we finished last season — to add some players with qualities that can help us achieve all that we want. With or without, I think we are going to.”
Q: Are you relaxed about it?
A: “Yes, of course. After many years in football, I think nothing’s going to change if you have different moods or humor. You need to be relaxed, working hard. My focus is trying to help the team and develop the way we want to play and arrive in the best condition to start the season. Nothing’s going to change if I change my behavior or the way I act.”
Liverpool spent $228 million on four players this summer; Manchester City boosted their record-setting title defense by signing Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for a club-record fee; Manchester United spent nearly $70 million on one midfielder, Fred; Chelsea and Arsenal have each strengthened in meaningful ways, despite their lack of Champions League qualification. Everyone else has done something.
Meanwhile, the only news out of Tottenham is no news at all.