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First team

Media View: Expert insight on Spurs

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be looking to pick up their first win on the road since Southampton when they travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs on the other hand, will be looking to secure their third win in a row under new manager Jose Mourinho, after defeating West Ham in the Premier League last weekend and Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The north London outfit currently sit tenth in the table, one point behind the Cherries in 11th having won four, drawn five and lost four in the top flight this season.

Ahead of the clash, we caught up with Dan Kilpatrick from the Evening Standard to get an insight into life at Spurs, their start to the season and of course the recent developments at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

You can follow Dan on Twitter here.

afcb.co.uk: There’s only one place to start and that’s with the new manager. What’s the mood been like around the camp since Jose Mourinho has come in? 

DK: The mood has generally been good. Supporters are still wary of embracing Mourinho I think, there’s still a lot of scepticism. But clearly the results have been good so far, they’ve had two wins out of two and it’s been very entertaining.

I think there was a bit of a glum mood around the club under Mauricio Pochettino. Since the Champions League Final, it’s felt like Pochettino personally wasn’t happy and he’d become such a figurehead at the club that his own mood would begin to affect the mood of the whole club.

It felt a bit like Spurs were treading water or perhaps even going backwards. Although he did do such a great job and I feel that perhaps he should have perhaps been given the opportunity to turn things around, the change of manager has given everyone a shot in the arm.

It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s exciting, it’s different and, even though there are Spurs fans who don’t like Mourinho and perhaps even the players who were loyal to Pochettino, there is a sense of wanting to see what’s going to happen and being open-minded and wanting to give the new manager a go.

afcb.co.uk: Down here, when the news came out that Pochettino had been sacked from Spurs, we were all rather surprised. Could the same be said for the Tottenham fans?  

DK: I think the timing surprised a lot of people because it was in the second week of the international break and I think the assumption was that if Spurs were going to change their manager after the Sheffield United draw, it would’ve been immediately or they would’ve given him a couple more games.

So the timing was a surprise, but it was increasingly hard to see how Pochettino had stayed in place because there was a lot of surgery needed to the team and he had such a big rebuilding job to do. It increasingly felt like he may not have had the energy or the appetite for it.

It seemed like relations had soured between him and Daniel Levy, and perhaps with him and some key players. It felt like possibly he had lost parts of the dressing room, if not all of the dressing room. So I think, on the whole, it wasn’t a massive surprised, but coming when it did was perhaps a little bit unexpected.

afcb.co.uk: Mourinho has had two games now. How have Spurs looked under him in that short space of time? 

DK: I would say very un-Mourinho like! He’s got a reputation for tight defences, for winning games by a goal or two without conceding and obviously Spurs have conceded four times in the first two games yet scored seven themselves. So it’s been very entertaining, but not what people would expect from a Mourinho team.

I think the first two games have really underlined how much work is needed defensively. That’s been the problem for the last 18 months or so, and it was certainly a big problem in the latter stages of Pochettino’s reign.

They were really sloppy at the end against West Ham and then really sloppy at the start against Olympiakos. But they’ve been good going forward and I think crucially Mourinho is already finding ways to get the best out of some players who were really underperforming under Pochettino, notably Dele Alli and Serge Aurier.

Harry Kane looks really fired up again, which is obviously a massive plus for Spurs, but I think Mourinho is playing the hits in a way. He’s got Kane fired up, he’s got Alli looking better and he’s got Dier back in the team, and he’s almost gone back to the building blocks that made Spurs great over the last couple of seasons under Pochettino.

afcb.co.uk: The other day, Mourinho took off Eric Dier within half an hour and brought on Christian Eriksen. He certainly seemed to have had an impact too?

DK: Yeah, he did. That was a really striking move because I think it would’ve been the last thing that Pochettino would’ve done. He would’ve probably moved Dier into a back three and then change the formation. Pochettino didn’t tend to make early changes, so it really hammered home that there was a new guy in the dugout.

It was a really Mourinho-like move. It was death or glory and there was no midfield protection at all, just all out attack. Having said that, it worked and Eriksen looked more fired up than he has done all season, he looked rejuvenated if a bit rusty.

So it was a game-changing substitution in the end, but that’s what Mourinho is about in that he takes risks. I think if Olympiakos had scored a third goal then people would’ve been saying about Dier being humiliated and he’s undone some of the good work he’s done in the first three or four days.

afcb.co.uk: Just finally, how can you see the game going this weekend? 

DK: I think I’d probably give Spurs the edge. Bournemouth do seem to have tightened up defensively this season, although I haven’t seen too much off them.

The thing about this Tottenham side is that they are vulnerable defensively and I know that Bournemouth have an exciting front three with a lot of pace. They’ll be able to hurt players like Danny Rose, Serge Aurier, even Toby Alderweireld, they aren’t the players they were really. I think Bournemouth’s best bet is not to sit back and let Spurs attack, but to really have a go.

I do give Spurs the edge this weekend, though. I think there is a new manager bounce and there’s a lot of quality in their front line at the moment with Kane, Alli and Son. I think the atmosphere will be better than if Pochettino was still there and I think that people are excited because it’s different and given everyone a shot in the arm.

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