Gosh, was that ever fun. Tottenham Hotspur welcomed Sheffield United to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and were absolutely terrible hosts, crushing the Blades 4-0 on Sunday afternoon. Gareth Bale scored a hat trick and could’ve had more, and Son Heung-Min added a late fourth goal as well to put a smile back on his face. There’s nothing quite like a comprehensive thumping, even if it’s at the expense of one of the worst sides in Premier League history.
For today’s theme, we’re thinking outside the box. We don’t know who Tottenham Hotspur are going to hire as their next permanent manager. We’re currently in the middle of a series examining such (Daniel Levy’s Imaginary (Managerial) Shortlist) and it feels like we’re already nearing the bottom of the barrel with regards to current available targets.
Last week we were discussing this in the writer’s Slack and ended up with what to me feels like a fun potential theme — current Tottenham Hotspur players who could serve as player-managers... ranked. So that’s what we’re going to do. Keep in mind that these ratings have little to do with the ability to play football — the ability to PLAY and the ability to communicate HOW to play are very different skill sets that don’t always overlap.
Here are your player ratings to the theme of Tottenham Hotspur potential player-managers.
5 stars: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Central midfielders tend to make good managers, I’ve found, because it takes a great deal of intelligence to play in that position. You have to have a good understanding of offense and defense, and also understand how to adapt to on-pitch situations, often with very little notice. Hojbjerg seems like the kind of guy who excels in that area. He even looks like a manager.
Gareth Bale (Community — 5.0): His first Premier League hat trick since 2013, and boy wasn’t that fun? His second was the kind of goal that only top footballers can score. The third made me worried he’d pull up with a stitch in his old man side. Can’t believe we haven’t been playing him all season. Stupid Mourinho.
4.5 stars: Moussa Sissoko
Go with me on this one. You know that phrase “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”? I think that applies to Moussa Sissoko. I know Sissoko’s a pretty smart guy, a good teammate, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if deep down in there he has a really good understanding of football tactics and a feel for the game. The rest of the team seems to really like him and would probably listen to him. The issue seems to be more that he just can’t DO those things on the pitch very well, and frankly, that’s not a shocking thing in a manager. Player-Manager Moussa Sissoko, but without the Player part of it.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.5): Terrorized Sheffield for much of the game. Took his goal well and should’ve had a brace if not for VAR ruling he had an armpit hair offside. Welcome back, my guy. Love that smile.
Serge Aurier (Community — 4.5): Wow. Serge’s little dink to Bale’s feet was the kind of tricky offensive play that you normally don’t see out of him. Two assists on the day and was stellar on both ends of the ball. This was one of his best matches for Spurs in a long time.
4 stars: Toby Alderweireld
His former partner Jan Vertonghen would make a better manager, but Jan’s not here anymore. And considering Toby’s vision to ping long balls from deep to the feet of attackers, you know he’s got a really good footballing brain. I can see him as the next innovative manager who comes up with something new in tactics, like “free keepers” or a “false three” or something. Maybe he’ll put himself at striker.
Ryan Mason (Community — 4.0): He’s not making any blindingly brilliant tactical adjustments but he’s getting players in the correct positions and doing things they’re good at, and that’s worth something. Now just play Tanguy over Winks and we’re good, Ryan.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 4.0): Continues his resurgence in form under Mason. Sheffield didn’t muster much going forward but what little they made was comfortably dealt with by Toby. Had a lovely long ball to Son for a goal nullified for offside (but it was still a hell of a ball).
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Much better from Pierre after a string of pretty bland performances. Helps that Sheffield is a flaming dumpster.
Dele (Community — 3.5): Dele looked like a changed man and not just because of his new hairstyle. A few wayward passes here and there but was great in the press and looked like he was working well with the rest of the attacking line.
3.5 stars: Dele
Every manager needs a hand-around-the-shoulder type, and that could be Dele, if after he puts his hand around his players’ shoulder he then puts him in a headlock and gives him a good-natured noogie and then nutmegs them for funzies. Dele might not be an EXCEPTIONAL manager, but he’d be fun as hell to play for.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Comfortably solid aside from THAT pass (you know which one).
Gio Lo Celso (Community — 3.5): Took a foot to the face and kept on truckin’. I like him in the 8 position, I just wish it weren’t at Tanguy’s expense.
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 3.5): Had a nice nutmeg in the first half and looked much more industrious with the ball at his feet going forward than in the past two matches. Looks like his confidence is coming back.
Steven Bergwijn (Community — 3.0): Steve looks like he’s so used to playing as a defensive winger under Mourinho that he’s no longer sure what to do with the ball when he has a little extra freedom. Had a couple of nice moments late in the game, including the assist for Son’s goal.
3 stars: Hugo Lloris
I think most readers would have Hugo higher than this — international and club team captain, proven leader, likes to yell a lot, etc. But the problem is, there just aren’t very many former keepers who turn into top flight managers, and that hinders Hugo as far as I’m concerned.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): I love it when a player gets listed in his own category. Barely had anything to do bar one routine stop. The kind of three star match I can totally get behind.
Harry Kane (Community — 3.5): Wasn’t very involved or especially great in this match. Didn’t have to be, and that in itself is something of a luxury.
Harry Winks (Community — 3.0): Look, he was fine. I only screamed at him for not making an obvious progressive pass once, and that’s an improvement, I guess. I just don’t see the point of him ahead of Tanguy (but that’s hardly his fault).
2.5 stars: Son Heung-Min
Sonny’s a fantastic footballer and has an eye for space, but let’s face it, can you really see him trying to explain the finer points of defensive positioning on set pieces to a group of players? I can’t. He just wants to play football and smile a lot, and who can blame him?
No players played this poorly.
2 stars: Gareth Bale
Despite the fact that he’s only here on a temporary contract which is itself disqualifying, does anyone really think he’d be good at this job? It’d be like having Harry Redknapp, instead of instead of talking through a car window Gareth would give interviews from the golf course.
No players played this poorly either.
1.5 stars: Harry Kane
“I think you should just make sure everyone gets the ball to me so I can score goals and the team can win, I like scoring goals” — Harry’s team instructions during training every day, probably
Just an extra category.
1 star: Lucas Moura
Look, nobody would be able to fault Lucas’ enthusiasm for the job, but I think this group of players will probably want more from pre-match tactical instructions than Lucas screaming “COYS COYS COYS COYS COYS COYS” and making an L with his fingers.
No Tottenham Hotspur players are as bad as the idea of Lucas Moura as Spurs player manager.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating