Cartilage Free Captain is once again reviewing each of Spurs' first team players and evaluating their 2015-16 season. The series continues today with young midfielder Josh Onomah.
Goals, Assists, & Cards: 0
Hair Game Potential: Alderweireldesque
What went right?
Josh Onomah turned nineteen on April 27th, 2016 and, impressively, his nineteenth year will be his second of top flight professional football. Cartilage Free Captain had Onomah rated as the #4 prospect in our 2015 rankings and the eighteen-year-old justified his hype and then some. Onomah appeared for the club eighteen times this term, including seven appearances in the Premier League, and seven in the Europa League. While he notched the same amount of nods for the Premier League and Europa League, he was much more involved in the Europa League featuring as a prime attacking option off the bench and even starting against Monaco.
Onomah seems to be trusted by Pochettino and for good reason. Tricky with the ball at his feet, and with pace and power to match, Onomah is a uniquely promising player. It is an indication of his talents that while he has been primarily deployed as a winger with Tottenham's first team, he was brought up through the youth system as a central midfielder. The playmaking abilities and steel needed for the center of the park are inherent in him, in addition to his athleticism and dribbling capabilities.
His substitutions this term were not forced and didn't bespeak ceremonial gestures by the club. Onomah got onto the pitch because Poche genuinely thought he could change the game and help his team win. He is a graceful footballer, with the work-rate to produce in a Pochettino system. The stage rarely seemed too big for him. In small samples, Onomah looks like the real deal for Tottenham Hotspur.
What went wrong?
Onomah was never dreadful in his appearances, but he also didn't have a certified breakthrough moment for the club. He always looked capable on the pitch, and sometimes quite dangerous, yet his play didn't really justify his inclusion over other attackers in the squad.
His hype, totally warranted as it may be, has not materialized into actual production yet. We saw glimpses of the future with his maturity, creativity, and pace, but one wouldn't call his 2015-16 an absolute breakout campaign.
Spurs had the youngest average age of any team in the Premiership and most of those "young" guys were twenty-two and twenty-three years old. In other words, Onomah is still four to five to years away from reaching what is traditionally considered a young age for a first eleven Premier League player. In this regard, Onomah has some time — nay ages —to develop.
His immediate obstacle though will be that the positions he is vying for are already chalk-full of youthful talent. Lamela, Eriksen, and Son are just entering their prime, Alli is only a year older than Onomah, and Chadli, aged twenty-six, is far from old. The worry here is that the season review of Onomah for the foreseeable future has the potential to be very similar to the one I just wrote above. In short, a young player with promise, that garnered some substitutions throughout the year, but finds it hard to solidify a regular place in a Champions League caliber side.
Yet I think it is apropos to end his review with this caveat. On the most dastardly and downright frustrating of days, May 15th, 2016, Pochettino looked to Onomah to resuscitate some life into a flatlining Spurs side. At 2-0 down, as bad as the team was, there was still some hope to salvage a point, or maybe even three (you never know!), from the day. Fuming as Poche must have been, he wouldn't have put Onomah in the match if he didn't think he could get the job done. If there was ever foreshadowing for Poche's trust in Onomah and his future with the club, that example is probably it.
Rating: 4 Chirpys