Having won seven of their first ten Premier League games of the season, Tottenham have since won just three of their last nine. Antonio Conte continues to publicly denounce the way the club does things and barring a £200m spend in the last ten days of the transfer window, will surely be on his way when his contract is up at the end of the season.
There is plenty of talent for a new manager, or indeed Conte if he stays, to build around (these five for starters), but this lot could do with an upgrade…
A goalkeeper who can be the best and the worst is therefore somewhere in the middle. Lloris is currently at his worst, leading people to suggest he’s past it. But he’s had loads of periods like this in his decade-long stint at Tottenham, only for a flick to be switched that turns him back into a brilliant goalkeeper.
But he’s 36 and for the sake of Spurs it would make a lot of sense to stop Spursiness at its source. They will struggle to find anyone as good as Lloris at his best, but the Frenchman’s worst makes that pill far easier to swallow.
No amount of glow up will make Eric Dier a worthy centre-back partner for Cristian Romero. Dier has been about as good as he can be under Antonio Conte, and his was an enjoyable mini-redemption story. But plonked next to Romero he looks adequate at best.
It’s always going to be the case that one partner is better than the other, but you get the sense with Dier that he’s all right at everything but not brilliant at anything. No other Big Six Premier League club would take him as anything other than a squad player, and you can’t imagine him looking hugely out of place playing for a team in the bottom half of the table.
He’s been picked as the fall guy for a general right-back problem at Tottenham. Royal has played the most of any of Conte’s four options, but as their apparent moves in the transfer market suggest, Spurs are desperate to land a better one.
Djed Spence arrived in the summer but Conte insisted that he was a club signing, and to hammer home that point has handed the 22-year-old four substitute appearances in the Premier League totalling five minutes. That’s a pretty nasty way of sending a message to the board.
Spence will in all likelihood outlast Conte as Spurs and nothing we’ve seen (because we haven’t seen anything) suggests he isn’t capable of making the right-back or right wing-back spot his own. Conte’s got other targets in mind though.
He’s actually been among Tottenham’s best players this season and as productive as anyone other than Harry Kane, with four goals and two assists to his name. This is less about Hojbjerg and more about a need for something different in midfield for Spurs.
They really should have tried harder to get Christian Eriksen back. They need someone who can both see and execute passes that will hurt the opposition when games are tight and crosses from wide are being easily dealt with.
Hojbjerg, bless him, has tried at times to be that guy but just isn’t. Rodrigo Bentancur is a certain starter and Pape Sarr looks as though he could be a very useful in a double pivot alongside the Uruguayan, while a playmaker can knit things together ahead of them.
The Spurs fans swear by a player who is eminently forgettable for the rest of us. He’s your classic 6-7/10 solid pro, doing his job pretty well almost all of the time with a minimum of fuss. Actually it’s pretty easy to see why Spurs fans like him – it’s impossible not to like those sorts of players.
Perhaps it takes an outsider to let them know it’s time to move on. Keep him around, sure, he’s a Club Man now, but just because a guy gives everything doesn’t mean everything is enough.