Spurs have had many scapegoats in their squad in the past few seasons. These are players that have been hounded and criticised for poor performances. Some of this criticism is warranted, but equally some players begin to transform into top-class players. Here, Erik Lamela is the most promising candidate, whilst of course, Vincent Janssen appears to be a lost cause in the group of Spurs scapegoats.
Spurs Scapegoats: Moussa Sissoko, Erik Lamela and Vicent Janssen
Erik Lamela’s Revelation
This season, Erik Lamela has been on fire. He notched his third goal of the season against West Ham. Throughout all the matches he has shown a fiery commitment to the cause. Although, this has always been a part of his game in truth.
He always enjoys a tackle and isn’t afraid to wind players up. Sometimes this works to the detriment of the team. Nevertheless, this passion, however excessive, is refreshing in an increasingly sterile, emotionless modern game.
The big thing missing from his game was always a final product. For a fee of around £30m, the club’s highest transfer of the time, he was definitely a scapegoat.
After all, if a club’s top expensive transfer isn’t scoring goals, some criticism is justified. However, this criticism has unfairly stuck by him even as his performances picked up. In a way, the transfer has been a kind of tag stuck around his neck.
No matter how well he played, he failed to really shake it off. Now, this was partly due to his consistent nature and indeed, lack of goalscoring and assists. In the modern game, this is more understandable.
Fans want to see real-time reaping of their club’s big money transfers. Effort and passion are useless bywords and addendums attached to the top players that score lots of goals.
Lamela is no longer a scapegoat. Instead, he is hailed as a ‘new transfer’. He is viewed in a new light by the Spurs faithful. It will be interesting to see if there will be any relapse into scapegoating if his form drops, though.
Moussa Sissoko’s Promise
Sissoko has many links to his Argentinian team-mate. He set up his goal against West Ham, with a deft cutback and a cracking cross. Lamela heads the ball in with a nice finish. But, it was Sissoko that created that all important, three-point-taking goal.
Furthermore, Sissoko became the record signing for Spurs when he first arrived at the club. Again, this was a tag that has heavily dogged him, in the same way as Lamela’s suffering. And, in truth, he has deserved criticism.
A lot of his performances have been unimpressive, inconsistent and lacking in commitment. Pochettino has managed to instil this player with a little more dynamism though. However, he has failed to live up the hype that he first achieved in Euro 2016.
His last performance in a Spurs shirt is arguably one his best. Even if he were to create another five goals this season, it would still be a benefit to the squad. The main issue with Sissoko is that his transfer fee doesn’t really warrant the type of role he has in the squad. He is not a top midfielder, with silky skills and lots of goal scoring potential.
In Pochettino’s team, he does the dirty work. He seems to have found a good partnership with Serge Aurier, playing wide, or slightly inside on the right. Furthermore, his assist in the last game finally gave a glimpse into that marauding player he used to be.
Vincent Janssen’s Sorrow
Out of the players mentioned so far, Janssen has the worst tale to tell. He had time and opportunity when he was called upon in Harry Kane’s absence. Sadly, he did not capitalise on that.
For example, he scored two Premier League goals in 27 appearances. This is unfortunately not the kind of return that any Premier League club is looking for.
Janssen swiftly becomes a scapegoat at Spurs because he doesn’t fulfil the expectation of fans. They want a top goalscoring striker. They didn’t get one in Janssen. Although, his fantastic goalscoring in the Eredivisie seems to point to an alternative truth. Clearly, he has the skills and the mentality to hit double figures in any European league. But, in England, he has failed.
His failure is partly due to the difficult striker situation at Spurs. Harry Kane is unchallengeable when he is on form. And, being a consistent kind of goalscorer, he thus gives his team-mates little chance to impress.
The club tends to use a sole striker formation and therefore most candidates to back Kane up can do only just that. They must wait for an injury before getting a chance. Or, maybe they’ll get an odd game or two when Pochettino gives him a rest. This gives a tiny window for players to get into the groove and to start playing well.
Some players have thrived off the bench. Heung-Min Son is a particularly good example. But, for the likes of Janssen and before him, Roberto Soldado, they are used to playing regularly for their old clubs. Their confidence is low and they need extended minutes and multiple chances to grab those morale-boosting goals.
Lamela is a revelation. Janssen is a foregone conclusion. Sissoko still suffers under the yoke of his transfer fee. As one player seems to rid himself of his scapegoated status, another still attempts to wriggle free. Some players, especially those inconsistent, less glamorous and more expensive players are prone to targeting by the Spurs faithful.
And that is natural. However, fans should take some reservation in this modern game to reconsider how some of the players at the club have, or will have, a role to play in the squad.