The transfer window hasn't so much slammed shut as been closed gently and politely by fan-favorite fringe players Sandro and Lewis Holtby as they tearfully snuck out just before curfew. Despite rumblings of a move for Danny Welbeck that most Spurs fans spent the last few days trying to convince themselves they were really excited about, no Daniel Levy Deadline Special actually manifested. Even so, Tottenham Hotspur ended the summer with a stronger squad than they started with, and Spurs fans should feel mostly satisfied with the club's work this offseason.
At the end of last season most Spurs fans felt that the key components of a good team were in place, they'd just been hopelessly mismanaged by a series of inept managers. From the look of things, early signs suggest that initial assessment was largely correct.
After some early flirting with Frank de Boer to fill the empty Spurs hotseat, Levy and co. moved decisively to land last season's hottest young Premier League manager Mauricio Pochettino. After the sterling work he did over the last 18 months with an unfancied Southampton side, he seems to have carried on in similar fashion in his first months at Spurs. It's incredibly apparent after only a few matches that the players have taken to his philosophy and for the first time in ages it looks like the team are playing with a cohesive plan in mind. The team looks sharper and more purposeful than it has since the heady days of the Champions League team.
If the team had done nothing else all summer, it still wouldn't have been a complete failure. The club signed the underperforming Magnificent Seven with the Gareth Bale money, and it already looks like most of those players will fulfill the hope we had for them last year. Erik Lamela has been nothing short of a revelation, and once his budding partnership with Christian Eriksen takes off, the two could become a real force this year. After mostly underwhelming in front of goal last year, Roberto Soldado has a strong pre-season and a few Europa League performances under his belt. If he can keep progressing, we might finally see what convinced the club to shell out almost 30m for him last year.
Beyond the marquee names, Nacer Chadli has already bagged two goals in two starts, and could ably fill the "Jay Rodriguez" left forward role. Etienne Capoue has gone from grumbling about playing time to a key fixture in the Spurs midfield. Even Paulinho had a strong Europa League game last week and could turn it around. Factor in Pochettino's faith in young potential stars Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane, and Spurs are looking at possibly seven key faces who barely contributed last season.
But luckily for Spurs fans, the club didn't stop with a new manager, and quietly brought in only one fewer player than last season's transfer explosion.
Spurs' back line, last season's biggest weakness, has seen a massive overhaul, with all six signings looking to shore up the defense. Eric Dier has already made his mark with two goals and three incredibly assured performances that belie his age. Federico Fazio has yet to make an appearance, but should prove a marked improvement over the departed Michael Dawson and the probably-broken Younes Kaboul.
At left back the team has brought in the excellent Ben Davies who had a wonderful season at Swansea last term. Though Davies should win the long term spot, Danny Rose, despite his frailties against Liverpool, has come on leaps and bounds under Pochettino and Spurs could end up with two strong options for the position. Michel Vorm will prove a significant upgrade over the aging Brad Friedel as Hugo Lloris's understudy. DeAndre Yedlin won't link up with the team until January at the earliest, but Spurs have got a potentially excellent right back for the future at a bargain basement price.
Further forward, but no less a defensive signing, Spurs have also brought in defensive midfielder Benjamin Stambouli from Montpellier. A capable defensive midfielder, he'll be able to play either alongside or in place of Etienne Capoue. Though his addition has come at the expense of everyone's favorite player Sandro Raniere, the beloved Brazilian has been in decline due to his injury troubles, and even at his best lacks the discipline and passing ability Pochettino requires from the position. Stambouli, while maybe lacks the "wow factor" fans hoped for, should prove a perfect fit for the manager's plans.
While the Stambouli and Fazio signings may leave some fans disappointed after the club failed to attract Matteo Musacchio and Morgan Schneiderlin, Pochettino's first choice options for their positions, it's nice to see that the club had back up options for both of them that they were able to secure. Instead of being disappointed, we should appreciate the chairman's ability to still fill the holes Pochettino identified in the squad with talented players.
The club has also done some addition by subtraction in offloading several fringe players. In addition to Sandro, fringe players Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Dawson, Jake Livermore, Iago Falque, Heurelho Gomes, and Ezekiel Fryers have all been moved on for decent fees. Besides Siggy, none of them were ever capable of being serious contributors this season, and even the Icelandic goal-getter, despite his obvious talent, never seemed to fit in here. Lewis Holtby has gone on loan, and will probably be sold, and of all our departures he looks the one we'll miss the most. Behind all his workrate on the pitch and Instagram was a player who, despite never quite putting it together in a Spurs shirt, looked to be the only guy in the squad capable of adequately filling in for Eriksen and Lamela should, god-forbid, serious injury befall them.
The biggest miss of the window looks to be the left forward position that Pochettino was clearly targeting over the summer. Memphis Depay slipped through our fingers and will probably go to a bigger club next year, while Danny Welbeck and Jay Rodriguez proved out of our price range. Even so, Chadli, Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon, and Harry Kane all remain and any one of them could step up under Pochettino's management and fill the void. If there's one black mark on the team's activity this summer, this is it, but given the serious depth the team has, it's not a total loss.
Although no blockbuster name came through the door, Mauricio Pochettino has quietly retooled the squad in his image. Under his stewardship we're already stronger in both defense and attack than we were last season. And most importantly, the talented players at the club finally have a manager who seems to know how to get the best out of them. All the deadline day Falcao's in the world can't replace the huge impact of the man we signed to start our summer.