There have been hints that things are not right at Tottenham this season. On Tuesday night came comprehensive proof.
Spurs suffered a humiliating 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in their second Champions League group game, the biggest loss by an English side in the competition.
The defeat has come off the back of a start to the season which has already sparked plenty of debate about what is going wrong at last year’s Champions League runners-up.
Tottenham suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Bauern Munich on Tuesday night
Serge Gnabry ran riot as the Bundesliga champions enjoyed a 7-2 win in north London
Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch said: ‘It’s a huge crushing blow to them and they will suffer a hangover from this.
‘You can’t get beat seven at home, I don’t care who it is against. These are top international players. People have been questioning the character right from the start of the season, questioning the people that want to go away, the Vertonghens the Eriksens, and a result like this is only going [to make people] ask more questions.’
Here, Sportsmail looks at some of the issues facing manager Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs.
Unsettled dressing room…
Mauricio Pochettino had hinted more than once that all was not well. Then he made it crystal clear after Spurs’ Carabao Cup defeat to Colchester when he spoke about players having ‘different agendas’.
Christian Eriksen has openly admitted he wanted to leave while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are also in the last year of their contracts. Danny Rose could have departed in the summer, having been left out of Spurs’ pre-season tour squad to sort a move that did not materialise.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane has been at the peak of his powers for the last few years but, in terms of trophies, his return has been zero. His understandable frustration is starting to show. They have all got their heads down and played when called on but any uncertainty would be natural.
For a manager whose approach is based on having everyone singing from the same hymn sheet the current situation is far from ideal.
Denmark international Christian Eriksen made it plain during the summer that he wants to go
Before last year’s semi-final second leg against Ajax Mauricio Pochettino hinted he may leave if Spurs won the Champions League. They reached the final against Liverpool but didn’t win and Pochettino remains in charge.
Pochettino had been keeping an eye on possible opportunities elsewhere across Europe privately but went public for the first time by raising the idea of leaving. Things have not been felt right since.
There have been complaints about his job title, the club’s transfer policy, with Pochettino frustrated by the speed – or lack of it – at which they do their business, and also the need for clear-the-air talks with chairman Daniel Levy.
While there is no danger of Levy wanting a split from Pochettino, whether the Argentinian feels the same seems much less certain.
Mauricio Pochettino hinted he would have left had Spurs gone on to lift the Champions League
Difficulties rebuilding the squad…
For a brief period once Pochettino lifted Spurs up to title challengers, it was hard to see how he could improve his starting side. Then they went two windows without buying anyone and the squad he was left with then needed freshening up fast.
Spurs tried to do that in the summer but did not resolve enough of their issues. They made four major signings – Jack Clarke has returned to Leeds on loan for the season – but two of them, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, have been hit by injuries meaning they have yet to make an impact unlike Tanguy Ndombele.
Meanwhile, some of those players whose uncertain futures Pochettino would have wanted resolving remain at the club. So the needed rebuild was only partially completed.
Giovani Lo Celso is one of two new faces this summer robbed of time on the pitch due to injury
Holding onto leads…
On the pitch, Spurs have led in four of their last seven games but failed to convert those advantages into victories. Once or twice in such quick succession is forgivable but there appears to be a deeper issue.
Their failure to limit the damage at four goals conceded against Bayern also points to a vulnerability and problem when it comes to controlling games.
They blew two-goal lead against Arsenal and Olympiacos to draw 2-2, saw a one-goal lead overturned in their defeat at Leicester and, by the end, it was easy to forget they actually went 1-0 up against Bayern Munich before the Germans let loose.
Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance during the draw with Arsenal at The Emirates
Too many big players out of form…
Throughout Spurs’s squad this has been an issue this season. Players they have grown used to relying on having dips in form or not being their usual trusted and influential selves such as Hugo Lloris, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Eriksen, Dele Alli.
Harrys Winks and Kane plus Son Heung-min can hold their heads up high this season but they can’t do it alone and need more help.
Right back position…
At one stage it was a position of strength for Spurs with Kyle Walker battling it out with Kieran Trippier. Now Spurs have no standout, senior right back. Their leading candidate Serge Aurier appears to also be the biggest risk.
He was sent off for two bookings in four minutes against Southampton, could have seen red again for a crazy challenge on David Alaba and was then at fault for at least two of Bayern’s goals. Kyle Walker-Peters is inexperienced while injured Juan Foyth could be converted but as bought as a centre back.
There other contenders, Moussa Sissoko, Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier would also just be stand-ins whose natural strengths lie elsewhere. The full-backs were key to Spurs game in their peak under Pochettino and somehow they need to find a way to rediscover that.
Sege Aurier is the leading candidate, yet the biggest risk in solving their right-back problem
Has he taken them as far as they can go?
This group, which contains nine players who were at the club in his first season and would be match day squad regulars now when fit, yes.
That is why he has described last season as the end of a chapter and now the time to write a new one. But not Spurs as a club. They need to keep Pochettino, one of the continent’s brightest managers, for as long as they can and give him everything he needs to build a fresh squad.
The big problem is he has won many admirers across Europe for the job he has done since 2014 in transforming Spurs from a Europa League side to top four and Champions League regulars. And Pochettino might see things differently.
Spurs need to keep Pochettino, but he has won many admirers across Europe with his work