How Pochettino turned Tottenham into title contenders... Part 4: The goalscorer

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With Tottenham two points off top, HITC Sport looks at their transformation in a five-part series...

A title-challenging team needs to be solid in all areas. The defence needs to be watertight and the midfield dominant. A world-class goalkeeper helps and pace out wide can also be a match-winner.

But where would any side be without goals?

That's a question Mauricio Pochettino had to deal with when he first came to Tottenham Hotspur.

Within his arsenal, Pochettino had Roberto Soldado - a hard worker loved by Tottenham fans. The Spaniard, however, netted just seven league goals in 52 games for the north London side.

There was Emmanuel Adebayor. But Adebayor is Adebayor. Pochettino was willing to give him plenty of chances. With each opportunity, the 31-year-old just gave less and less.

Then there was Harry Kane. Young and relatively unproven, more was known of Kane at the likes of Millwall and Leicester than among neutrals in the Premier League. He had been given occasional chances at Spurs but certainly never came close to leading the line at White Hart Lane. Even during his loan spells, the goals weren't exactly flowing.

But Pochettino's first move was to keep him at Tottenham and refuse to loan him out. He was, however, reluctant to throw him in at the deep end.

"I understand the fans want him to play because he is English," Pochettino told reporters in October 2014. "But my decision is always about my analysis on the training and afterwards to give the balance to the team and our performance."

It took a while for Pochettino to be happy with that balance, in fact. Kane was scoring freely in the Europa League and there were hints of crowd frustration that he wasn't starting in the Premier League for Tottenham.

Once that first hurdle was overcome, though, the rest was history. The 22-year-old took to top-flight football like a duck to water.

Like much of Tottenham's recent success, Kane's form was the result of another simple move from Pochettino. This was a player in form and he simply chose to use him. But would every manager? Just like with Dele Alli this season, there are never any guarantees.

The series so far...

Part 1: How Pochettino turned Tottenham into title contenders: The Dier masterstroke

Part 2: How Pochettino turned Tottenham into title contenders: The £11.5m bargain

Part 3: How Pochettino turned Tottenham into title contenders: The wonderkid

Again, though, Pochettino's work behind the scenes and in training has been vital. Kane has a wonderful rapport with his team-mates and that on-pitch chemistry doesn't come out of thin air. The Argentine's relentless methods on the practice pitch have paid dividends. And is it just coincidence Kane hasn't suffered from too many serious injuries?

Heavy pre-season work, as well as the best medical conditioning in between games is all as important as Kane's ability itself. Such is Tottenham's faith in their main man, they defied the beliefs of many in January and simply didn't sign another centre-forward.

 2014/16 TeamGoalsAppearances
Sergio Aguero Man City 40 52
Harry Kane Tottenham 37 60
Diego Costa Chelsea 30 48
Olivier Giroud Arsenal 26 53
Romelu Lukaku Everton 26 62
Jamie Vardy Leicester 24 60

Within Pochettino's side, so many players offer far more than just mere statistics. Kane does too but, as Opta data shows, he also provides the pure numbers to Tottenham's title challenge.

Indeed, over the past two Premier League seasons, only Sergio Aguero has more goals to his name than the 22-year-old, who is miles clear of the rest of the competition.

Others may have played less games than Kane but that again is credit to his fitness and also the work undergone during Pochettino's grueling pre-seasons. Kane is Mr Consistent: the reason why only Manchester City and Leicester have scored more times than Spurs this season (and only by the one goal).

He's the prolific goalscorer every title challenger needs. But, without the influence of Pochettino, he could very well have been yet another young forward lost within the lower leagues of English football...

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