Undrafted – The Network

Are these the new Leaders for Tottenham?

The Tottenham team that made the 2019 Champions League Final was stocked with leaders on the field from front to back, playing in their manager’s image who, in my opinion, was one of the greatest leader’s football has ever seen both as a player and a manager

Strong leadership is in Tottenham’s DNA, from Blanchflower to Mackay, from Jennings to Perryman, from Mabbutt to King. One of my concerns in the seasons that have passed since that night is the lack of leaders on the pitch, but if you look closely that Tottenham DNA is alive and well forming a spine that propel the club forward. 

Undrafted compare the leaders of 2019, with those emerging under Nuno.

“Innovation distinguishes between leaders and followers”

Steve Jobs, Apple Co-founder

Credit: BBC

2019: Heung Min-Son

Perhaps the most staggering thing about Sonny’s 2018/19 season is just how much football he played. Much has been made of the number of games Pedri played last year (72), but remarkably in 2018/19, HM7 racked up even more games (78) and travelled 110,000km in order to do so. However, it was his performances in big Champions League games that stood out, most notably against Borrusia Dortmund where his improvised finish wrong-footed Burki to break the deadlock and set his team on the way to a remarkable victory. 

2021: Heung Min-Son

Much has changed between the high of 2018/19 and today, but some things remain consistent, the smile, the skills, the speed and finishing of Son remain one of the team’s most effective assets. The innovation of Son was on display once more in the last game against Aston Villa, notably when keeping the ball in play to extend a move that would end with his finish when falling backwards to meet an Ndombele cross, but also in his clever play to setup goals for Hojbjerg and Moura. Ladies and gentleman, we have a wizard in our ranks, and his name isn’t Harry. 

“Leadership is making those around you stronger and more capable”

Emmanuel Gobillot, Leadership Consultant and Author.

Credit: Tottenham Hotspur

2019: Jan Vertonghen

It’s easy to forget that big Jan spend a lot of the 2018/19 season on the sidelines due to a series of injuries, hip, hamstring and head. This loss was most acutely felt when he left the first leg against Ajax with a head injury and never returned as the same player as he suffered nine months of after affects from concussion. Like Mabbutt and King before him, the best attribute that Super Jan brought to his game was his ability to improve those around him. Hugo never looked so assured as when he had the rock in front of him, his partnership with Toby gave a platform that success could be built upon, even at left-back he reinvented himself, pushing those around him and bringing the best out of his team. 

2021: Joe Rodon

Joe Rodon is a player who never stops reaching for himself and others. Watch an interview, he’s never satisfied. Lost the game? He is dissatisfied and hurt. Kept a clean sheet? We can still do better! Rodon is the very embodiment of Bill Nic’s “it’s no use winning, we’ve got to win well”. The defender has been under-utilised for Tottenham this season, but showed again on Monday night for Wales why he should be a pivotal force in defence for years to come. Rodon captained his country in Bale’s absence and marshalled Ampadu and Mepham to a well-deserved clean sheet. Rodon is a future Tottenham captain who can bring success for years to come if allowed to perform this role for the club.

“The experience of defeat, or more particularly the manner in which a player reacts to it, is an essential part of what makes a winner” 

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Manager 1986-2013.

Credit: Football.London

2019: Lucas Moura

Lucas Moura had a terrible game in the Champion League Quarter-Final First Leg against Ajax. 1 in 3 passes went astray, 50% dribbles resulted in possession loss, majority of duels lost, 2 shots of which neither hit the target. Boy, did he make up for it in the second leg! Three shots on target and a hat-trick ball. Lucas was slick, he had guile, it was a performance for the ages and the highlight of the Pochettino era. 

2021: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

By his, admittedly high, standards Pierre has not had a great season so far. In the recent London derbies he looked flat, he’s been pulled out of position, and he’s struggled to do what he does best, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and dominating midfield. Against Aston Villa, that changed, Hojbjerg he put in a man-of-the-match performance. The Dane barely misplaced a single pass all game, was effective when dribbling, won every ball he challenged for, and made 5 key interventions to prevent Aston VIlla getting at his back-line. He’s taken that form into the International games, and I’m excited to see how he approaches the crucial games against Newcastle, West Ham and Manchester United now. That’s what winners do, that’s what leaders do. 

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