If you're one of those Tottenham fans who would like Tottenham Hotspur to go back in for English striker Charlie Austin, you're not alone. Spurs were reportedly looking at the QPR forward as a potential backup to Harry Kane this summer, and the fact that he's still at QPR in the Championship speaks to QPR demanding upwards of £15m for his services, which may have priced him out from a big-ticket move.
It's no wonder bigger clubs wanted him, though. Last season, Austin scored 18 goals for QPR in their doomed Premier League campaign, good enough to earn fourth place in the EPL scoring charts and putting him squarely on the radars of a number of Premier League clubs, Tottenham included.
However, in a recent report in the Guardian about Mauricio Pochettino, journalist David Hytner reveals that not only was Austin deemed too expensive for Tottenham last summer, he was summarily rejected from consideration by first team coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Levy told Pochettino he could get Charlie Austin from Queens Park Rangers and he believed he could do so for less than the £15m fee that had been quoted. Austin had scored 18 Premier League goals the previous season. He had earned an England call-up. At the very least, he looked like a decent option in Tottenham's hour of need.
Pochettino was not interested. He told Levy that Austin, good player though he was, would not represent a fit for his team. He would prefer to make do with what he had, to adapt other players if necessary. He would not add for the sake of adding and, for him, it was not only to do with quality over quantity but instead, specific qualities.
Let that sink in for a second. Not only was Poche willing to bypass Austin as a possible backup to Kane, but he was willing to roll with the team he already had rather than purchase for the sake of purchasing players.
We've talked before about how Pochettino is implementing a system and not just a team of talented players. This is readily apparent in the decision not to purchase Charlie Austin this summer. It's not that Austin is a bad player. He's assuredly not – Austin has eight goals already this season in the Championship with QPR, four behind Burnley's Andre Grey for the lead. Pochettino's decision to bypass Austin has more to do with his recognition that Austin – whether it be his skill set, demeanor, whatever – would not fit into the ideal squad that Pochettino is trying to mold in north London.
We don't know what skills Austin lacked that would've removed him from consideration. Perhaps Poche thought he wouldn't be as effective in the high press. Perhaps he didn't have the desired work rate, or the attitude, or the hold-up play to compliment Spurs' first team. Poche may only have one recognized striker on the roster, but he has several players like Clinton N'Jie, Son Heung-Min, and even Nacer Chadli, who understand his tactics and concept of team unity and that can play the role of center forward if called upon.
Hytner goes on to illustrate anecdotes about Pochettino's affability, belief in the club, and ruthlessness in his 18 months at Tottenham. The recent exiles of players like Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, and Emmanuel Adebayor, and the current (possible) exile of Andros Townsend and Federico Fazio show the lengths he's willing to go to get the players that he wants into his system.
What this implies is not just that Spurs fans should not expect the club to go back in for Austin when the January transfer window opens, though that's most assuredly the case. It also implies that Pochettino knows what he wants in a forward, and he's not willing to compromise his roster or his system simply for the sake of putting a few goals into the back of the net.
There's a continual danger of rolling with Harry Kane for a full season – Spurs' top four chances take a serious hit if he goes down for any length of time with an injury. Pochettino, however, would seemingly take that risk and wait for the ideal backup striker to come along than compromise on his long-term vision for the club. With Spurs not only challenging for fourth place but possibly higher and with a chance to put defending champions Chelsea to the sword at White Hart Lane on Sunday, thus far the gamble has paid off.