The moment Vincent Janssen must have known it was over
As the back-up striker, you watch the club record signing walk up to enter the play as your team’s third and final substitute. It makes sense as Spurs are looking to hold on to their lead with Burnley throwing everything at them.
Then suddenly, your team concedes a stoppage time equaliser before the switch is made. Vincent Janssen is used to coming on for the final seconds of matches and with Spurs needing a late goal his time must surely have come again.
Instead Mauricio Pochettino looked back at his bench and then back at Davinson Sanchez and decided to send the big defender on instead, telling another centre-back, Toby Alderweireld, to go up front to win some headers in the final seconds.
If he hadn’t worked it out already, Janssen must have known in that moment that his time at Spurs was drawing to a close.
If his manager would rather tell a defender to go up to the other end of the pitch than bring him into play, he clearly has no trust in the 23-year-old Dutchman to score goals.
Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez, Kyle Walker-Peters, Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Vincent Janssen and Michel Vorm – it was not the bench of potential Premier League champions.
Spurs have their injury problems but even with Erik Lamela, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama to come back, the depth is just not there.
Against Burnley, there was not one genuine game changer on Pochettino’s bench at a club with ambitions to challenge for the Premier League title for a third year in a row.
The bench situation was thrown into the spotlight last season in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea when Hazard, Costa and Fabregas came on for the Blues, while Spurs had Walker, Janssen and Nkoudou. Nothing has changed.
How long will Pochettino be able to keep the Spurs machine running without replacement parts?
Kane’s slow starts
It could be bad luck but three seasons in a row suggests otherwise, another year without a Harry Kane goal in August is fast becoming one of football’s weirdest statistics.
The England striker is one of Europe’s most deadly hitmen and he smashed in goals throughout pre-season. Yet when the season rolls around everything but the net is hit.
Kane has struck the woodwork, every part of various goalkeepers’ bodies and smashed shots all over the place.
The scent of desperation wafts around a player who really is better than that. Shots from 30 yards that bounce off defender’s legs are becoming the norm around this time of the season. Later in the campaign those efforts are more carefully selected and usually scored.
Pochettino was asked after the game if Kane is a striker who takes time to settle in his rythmn.
“Yes, sometimes it happens, for him it’s true,” admitted the manager. “After three seasons, he’s a player who works hard. His commitment is there. He’s a little bit unlucky. I feel sorry for him.
“He had the opportunities to score today and always a striker needs to be a little bit lucky. I am sure that Harry will start to score as soon as possible. I have no doubts about him.”
That lack of width again
The pitch is wider but Spurs’ play wasn’t. When you have a squad that boasts no wide men your full-backs have to spend moments hugging that touchline, especially if the visitors pack numbers into the midfield and defence.
For a second week in a row, Ben Davies offered all he could down the left but despite some early forays forward that promised much, Kieran Trippier rarely got into the positions where he can be at his most dangerous, which was all the more baffling as he seemed to be up for the game against his old side.
Comparisons with Danny Rose and Kyle Walker will always be at the forefront until Spurs can find a way to replace the wide play they lost when the duo left the starting XI, for their differing reasons.
Pochettino hiding his anger with a smile
Sometimes a smile is just a mask and with Mauricio Pochettino after the game you felt that was certainly the case.
As he was after the defeat to Chelsea, the Argentine was keen to stress how well his team had played and how many chances they had created, but ultimately his displeasure was always near the surface.
It was there when he was asked about the Wembley woes repeatedly throughout another press conference. Pochettino is asked about Wembley at least three times in every press conference, often by journalists who were not in the previous one but also because Spurs just aren’t doing anything to dispel the woes.
Pochettino always puts on a calm front in public. He is not a Mourinho or Guardiola and rarely snaps despite the occasional spot of provocation, but in the bowels of Wembley on Sunday evening you know the Spurs defenders saw the other side of their manager.