For Tottenham Hotspur fans wondering where their brilliance is going to come from this season, it is a tantalising prospect. Christian Eriksen, their impish creative midfielder, hopes to show his very best form from today, building on the thrilling glimmers of last year.
“Of course, I didn’t come in pre-season last year,” Eriksen said at White Hart Lane last week. “I came late so I didn’t know what they did, and in the middle of the season you don’t train that much anyway.”
“It takes time with seven new players, and with two trainers, to get used to each other. Every trainer has different ideas, so of course it takes time. Hopefully, we have the time now in the pre-season to get involved and see the new ideas.”
Eriksen is certainly enjoying getting to know Mauricio Pochettino, even with the intense hard work the squad have been put through since first meeting their new coach. “It helps having a trainer from the beginning of the season,” said Eriksen, “you get to know his ideas and his structures straight away.”
“It has been a hard pre-season but it’s been all right. We are getting closer to where we want to be. It is hard, and in the first few weeks there were times when we went to bed pretty early. There have been double sessions twice a week, when we are training at 10am and then again at 4pm, so it’s a long day. Mentally as well it is hard but it is fun to play football, so it’s all right.”
The Spurs players should certainly be fully fit for today’s season opener against West Ham at Upton Park, having benefited from Pochettino’s pre-season, but this summer has been about more than just running. Pochettino, as he has repeatedly said, is trying to teach his players his philosophy and his footballing style, the approach that was so successful at Southampton last season. “What we have done in pre-season is how we want to play,” said Eriksen, face-to-face with a 3D printed version for his “FIFA 15” self.
Tottenham Hotspur: Potential transfer targets
Tottenham Hotspur: Potential transfer targets
1/8 Memphis Depay
The PSV winger impressed for the Netherlands as an impact sub during the World Cup, scoring twice and adding an assist for Louis van Gaal's team. He was excellent in Eredivisie last season, scoring 12 goals as PSV finished second. Depay is quick, skilful and strong and plays on the left, a problem position since the departure of Gareth Bale.
2/8 Yevhen Konoplyanka
Spurs are battling with a number of clubs for the tricky Ukranian winger, who impressed against Tottenham for Dnipro in the Europa League last season. Liverpool are also said to be chasing the quick winger, who can play on the left or right wing, while West Ham have already had a £9.5m bid rejected.
3/8 Miguel Lopes
The Sporting Lisbon defender spent last season on loan with French side Lyon, but the 27-year-old Portuguese international has been offered to Spurs on another loan spell with a view to a permanent deal
4/8 Loic Remy
QPR may have just been promoted, but the French striker, who spent last season on loan at Newcastle, is seeking a move elsewhere. He has been a long-term target of Spurs, and could be available for £8m
5/8 Javier Hernandez
There has been talk of Chicarito's unhappiness at being on the periphery of the Manchester United team. The Mexican could be a cut-price option to bolster Spurs' attack
6/8 Nathaniel Clyne
The 23-year-old is another impressive Saints' youngster that Pochettino knows very well. Would tally with Spurs' new emphasis on youth
7/8 David Marshall
The Cardiff goalkeeper made more saves (148) than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League last season, and would nudge Brad Friedel out of the way to be Hugo Lloris's No 2. Rivals Arsenal are reportedly weighing up a £15m bid
8/8 Toby Alderweireld
The Belgium international could be reunited with his former Ajax defensive parter Jan Vertonghen. Moved to Atletico last summer but has spoken of his unhappiness at the La Liga champions
Eriksen is a creative attacking player and is thrilled to work for Pochettino, who is trying to build the perfect platform for his skills. Eriksen even sees slight similarities between Pochettino’s philosophy and the old Cruyffian style he was taught at Ajax by Ronald de Boer.
“It is leaning against [the Ajax philosophy], yeah,” Eriksen said of Pochettino’s vision. “I think a lot of the ideas are a bit similar: that he wants to play football; if you can turn, you turn, if you can play forward, you play forward. And again it is about ball possession and structure and where you need to run. So it is a bit like Ajax, but not really.”
Pochettino would not be drawn on systems but if he plays the same 4-2-3-1 system he used last year, Eriksen is likely to be used as a No 10. But which position would he most like to have? “Where the ball is, I don’t really care.” If Pochettino can build the right structure for this puckish free spirit, the entertainment will be back at the Lane.
Christian Eriksen was speaking at the announcement of EA SPORTS’ partnership extension with the Premier League. EA SPORTS FIFA 15 is available to pre-order on all platforms at www.easports.com/uk/fifa/buy
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