Mauricio Pochettino has a style of play that he wants to implement, but he was hired because that style resembles the one Tottenham Hotspur has attempted to play in some form or another for a very long time. The specifics will be different and it takes skill to turn a philosophy of wanting to attack and entertain into something effective, but Pochettino isn't doing a total overhaul, or teaching Spurs something they're unfamiliar with.
And yet, players spoke during the preseason tour of the United States as if the very basic concepts of a high-tempo, high-pressing, attack-oriented game was something they had to learn. This, of course, is ridiculous, but it had its purpose -- they can't give away everything, can they?
The most amazing off-pitch development during the U.S. tour was how everyone talked about Pochettino's philosophy, in two different respects. One, everyone used just about the exact same terminology when asked about their new manager's tactics, and two, they were smart enough to not give away any specifics.
"We play a really high pressing game, so day in and day out in training we train that," said Lewis Holtby. "To play high tempo football, to press high, to win the ball as quick as possible and to gain possession."
Ryan Mason said the same thing. "He's keen on a high tempo game, and when you lose the ball, to react, to get it back as quick as you can. And in training he's been implementing different styles of how to go about that."
Brad Friedel? The same. "I think you'll see a lot of pressing, I think you'll see a lot of attacking flair football, I think you'll see us try and play from the back."
All of those players were asked by us to explain how that high pressing works, specific player roles, or if there were instructions given about who holds and who pressures. They all gave the same answers -- the ones above. Almost as if they know exactly what to say to avoid giving away any tactical specifics while giving the press an answer that's not going to make them feel like there's been a misdirection.
But even if the players aren't giving away any specifics, Pochettino made it very clear that he's seeing exactly what he's wants.
"I'm very pleased with the performance and development," said Pochettino. "I'm very happy because [over the last] three games we started to play our philosophy and our style."
"The players always were available to [learn] the new philosophy and the new tactics," he added. "We need time to develop, to improve, But we are in the process, I'm happy with the process and the time that they got to improve, and I think we are going the right way."
At the end of the day, as much as fans want to know everything that we can about the manager's philosophy and what the team's trying to accomplish, they shouldn't give anything away that they think other teams can use against them. What we do know is that the players are on the same page as far as the basics go and that their manager is happy with their development. We'll just have to figure out the minutiae for ourselves.