Have Pochettino's criticised training methods finally worked for Tottenham?

Mauricio Pochettino was criticised early in the season for training Tottenham Hotspur too hard.

The Argentine coach arrived at White Hart Lane in the summer, and immediately set about changing the Lilywhites team in his image.

A desire to utilise his high-pressing system required a complete reworking of the current Spurs squad, and he used many of the same training methods with Spurs as with previous club Southampton. Triple training sessions during the pre-season were all focused upon fitness, and he was renowned at St Mary’s Stadium for having his players walk across hot coals. Whilst the intensity drops off during the season, the only tactical work done by the coach prior to matches is one day before kick-off, when he addresses the next opponent specifically.

Heavily favouring physical work over tactical work, the coach was reportedly criticised by members of the Spurs set-up earlier this season, and players were turning up to games burnt-out an unable to play. Upon his arrival he admitted that players will have to suffer in training to work harder during games, and left-back Danny Rose confirmed that the players are worked hard in an interview with the Standard.

He is a coach who has built a reputation as a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa - who coached him at Newell’s Old Boys - and the pair attempt to incorporate a high-intensity system that is remarkable effective. However, Bielsa has garnered fans rather than trophies for his idealistic approach to football, and whilst many of his sides have led title races during his tenure, fatigue generally catches up with the side as the season draws to a close causing a tactical collapse as players cannot fulfil their duties.

Pochettino’s hard working training sessions look to overcome this problem, and although Spurs have yet to truly show a performance that truly captures the Argentine’s vision, there have been benefits of all the fitness work this season - shown by the North Londoners ability to score late goals.

Having scored 20 goals in 22 games, Spurs sit in seventh place, four points off West Ham in the top four, and they have their late game goalscoring efforts to thank for their position. They have scored six goals in the last 15 minutes of games - their highest across 15 minute intervals - which is third in the division to, ironically, Southampton and Manchester City.

The North London club have also conceded just one goal in the last 15 minutes of games this season - the best in the division - making them arguably the most effective team when it comes to the closing stages of games. Last minute winners against Hull City and Swansea City, a game winning brace from Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane against Aston Villa show that, not only are goals being scored late in games, but that they are incredibly important goals being scored. Fatigue is no longer effecting the side as games draw to a close, and it is hard to see the Spurs team being outrun by any opponents in the final 15 minutes of games - making all the fitness work done by Pochettino a remarkably good idea.

Pochettino is likely to continue receiving criticism as Spurs struggle to adapt to the style of play he wants to bring to White Hart Lane, but whilst the club keep winning games with late goals, there is real evidence that the Argentine coach has brought an improvement to the club that suggests his training methods should not have been criticised after all.

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