It’s a bit of an unusual time to be doing this video, since up until about a month and a half ago Mauricio Pochettino had one of the safest jobs in world football. Under his stewardship, Tottenham have become regular fixtures in the Champions League, finishing second once and third twice in the Premier League, and even reaching the Champions League final last season.
All this at a team that had only played in the Champions League once prior to his arrival (twice if you include the European Cup), and all achieved on a relatively modest budget and strict wage restrictions.
They say a week is a long time in football though, and for Mauricio Pochettino, the last eight weeks must feel like an eternity. Spurs lost their third game of the season to Newcastle United – which remains Steve Bruce’s only win in charge of the Magpies, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Colchester United and they lost 7-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, along with forfeiting 2-0 leads against both Arsenal and Olympiacos, losing at Leicester and most recently a horrific 3-0 defeat to Brighton.
In the world of Premier League and Champions League football that constitutes a bona fide crisis, and after Tottenham’s latest defeat to Brighton, Pochettino was questioned as to whether he had fears over his job. Despite having gone trophy-less, Tottenham have been very consistent over the last few seasons, and personally I think they would be a bit mad to sack Pochettino at the first sign of trouble. The Argentine is a brilliant manager, and although I can understand Tottenham’s fears that a lack of success could see their star turns look for the exit door, I suspect replacing Pochettino would do more harm than good – certainly in the long-term at least.
Anyhow, today we cast our minds back to Pochettino’s very first competitive game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur. That came way back in August 2014, when debutant and new signing Eric Dier scored the only goal of the game as Tottenham beat West Ham at the since demolished Upton Park. Spurs went on to finish 5th that season, with familiar faces like Hugo Lloris, Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen in their starting XI on the opening day… but today we turn our attention to their seven-man bench.
Back to the issue of the day, here are the 7 Tottenham subs for Mauricio Pochettino’s first game: Where are they now?
7. Brad Friedel – Unattached Manager
The first name on the Tottenham bench for Mauricio Pochettino’s first game was veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel. Having been first choice at White Hart Lane in the 2011-12 season, Friedel played second fiddle to Hugo Lloris in the 12-13 and 13-14 campaigns, becoming Tottenham’s oldest ever player in his 40’s. A one-time Premier League Team of the Year inclusion, Friedel spent the bulk of his career at Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa, as well as racking up 82 caps for USA.
Now aged 48, Friedel retired from playing at Tottenham in 2015, becoming the head coach of the United States’ under-19 side shortly afterwards. He became New England Revolution manager in November 2017, before his contract was terminated in May 2019.
6. Michael Dawson – Nottingham Forest
An excellent servant to Tottenham Hotspur, it is a mark of how long Michael Dawson has been in the game that he has played at centre-back alongside the likes of Des Walker at Nottingham Forest, Ledley King at Tottenham, Harry Maguire at Hull City and now Joe Worrall at Nottingham Forest. Dawson spent nine years at White Hart Lane, where he made 324 appearances, won one League Cup and one Tottenham Player of the Year award. He departed in 2014 to join his brother Andy’s former club Hull City, where he was promoted once and relegated twice, before returning to his boyhood club Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2018.
5. Ben Davies – Tottenham
One of seven permanent signings made by Mauricio Pochettino in his first season in charge at Tottenham Hotspur, Ben Davies was actually the Argentines joint-first signing along with Michel Vorm in July 2014. Both players arrived from Swansea City, and both spent the next five seasons with the club. Whilst Vorm departed at the end of last season when his contract expired, Davies is a regular in the Tottenham side. In his five seasons working with Poch, Davies registered a total of 168 appearances, an average of almost 34 games a season. He has jostled with Spurs favourite Danny Rose for that starting berth at left-back over that time, as well as winning 46 caps for Wales. The full-back is now aged 26, and he has played in 5 of Tottenham’s opening 11 games so far this season.
4. Lewis Holtby – Blackburn Rovers
A bit of a blast from the past for Tottenham fans, Lewis Holtby was playing for Hamburg when I first planned this video, but he has since returned to the English game. A player who attracted interest around the turn of the decade due to his impressive performances for Schalke and the fact that he was eligible to represent either Germany or England, the midfielder ultimately opted with Germany. The son of a former British soldier but born and raised in Germany, Holtby represented his native Germany at multiple different youth levels and won 3 caps under Joachim Low between 2010 and 2012.
Holtby also joined Tottenham in 2012, where there was some excitement about his cultured and neat play in midfield. He made 39 appearances in his first 18 months, but Mauricio Pochettino seemingly wasn’t convinced. He played the German only three times in all competitions before letting him depart for Hamburg, firstly on-loan and then on a permanent deal. Following five seasons back in Germany, Holtby was released by the 2. Bundesliga side, and he signed for Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers a few weeks ago.
3. Andros Townsend – Crystal Palace
Born in Leytonstone, London-native Andros Townsend joined the Tottenham academy at the age of eight. An England international from under-16 to under-21 level, he broke into the Tottenham first team in 2009. He was then loaned out a whopping nine times, spending temporary stints with Yeovil Town, Leyton Orient, MK Dons, Ipswich Town, Watford, Millwall, Leeds United, Birmingham City and Queens Park Rangers. The 2013-14 season under AVB and Tim Sherwood and Mauricio Pochettino’s debut 2014-15 season were Townsend’s only two seasons as a regular at White Hart Lane, and he departed in 2015 having played 93 games for the club.
He also became an England international in that time, and a bit of a favourite of Roy Hodgson’s, scoring 3 goals from 13 caps. Townsend is now playing under Hodgson once again at Crystal Palace, having joined the Eagles from Newcastle United following a half-season in which he impressed despite getting relegated with the Magpies.
2. Roberto Soldado – Granada
Roberto Soldado was one of a number of superb signings Andre Villas-Boas made in charge of Tottenham Hotspur, scoring prolifically and winning trophies aplenty as AVB wisely invested the money Spurs recouped via the sale of Gareth Bale… in an alternate universe perhaps. In the real world, Soldado was maybe the worst of a pretty disastrous string of arrivals in North London, having been the clubs record signing when he arrived for £26 million in 2013.
Soldado had scored 81 goals in 141 games for Valencia, and even scored prolifically for the reigning European and world champions Spain, hence his lofty fee. In North London, the Spaniard showed none of those goal scoring or predatory instincts, looking almost entirely ineffective. Following 16 goals in 76 games, and only 7 goals in the Premier League over the course of two seasons, he returned to Spain in a £10 million move to Villarreal. Aged 34, Soldado joined recently-promoted Granada in the summer just gone, where he has since scored 1 goal in 7 games.
1. Harry Kane – Tottenham
A centre-forward who has done a little better for Tottenham, to put it mildly, the final substitute on Mauricio Pochettino’s very first Tottenham bench was Harry Kane. At that time, Kane had only scored 5 goals in 26 games for Tottenham, and his loan moves to the likes of Millwall and Leicester had been far from awe-inspiring. Certainly he hadn’t shown the kind of form that shrieked future Premier League and World Cup Golden Boot winner, but by his mid-20’s that is exactly what Harry Kane has become.
The 26-year-old England captain has scored 171 goals in 262 games for Tottenham, in addition to 26 goals from just 41 caps for England. Kane is a born goal scorer who is unmoved by the emotions and vagaries that seem to affect most footballers out on the pitch, and he could well become his club and countries all time record goalscorer if he sticks it out for long enough with both. Kane is of course still at Tottenham, and he has scored 11 goals in 12 games for club and country this season.