What Tottenham need to do this summer

The most important thing for Spurs is to keep the manager but I think that is the easiest of all the jobs that Spurs have this summer because Mauricio Pochettino has a contract which he extended not long ago. I think he really does love the club, there’s a real affinity there and he gets on really well with Daniel Levy. Of course he is ambitious but the relationship between the manager and the club seems pretty solid.

Players, as we know, are a little bit more difficult to deal with at times and Christian Eriksen has suggested that he wants to try something different. I think deep down he really would love to stay but he wants to earn the type of money that he could earn if he were to move to a big, or bigger, club.

What Spurs need to do in my opinion is loosen the money belt a little bit because as far as what they have facility wise (the stadium, the training ground) they are already a big club but they don’t pay big club wages. I’m not suggesting that will guarantee success, spending big money doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success, but to keep the real talent that they have at the club like Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, who I believe has a £25M release clause in his current contract, they have got to pay bigger salaries.

Their recruitment generally speaking has been decent. Lucas Moura has started to deliver, Juan Foyth will ultimately be a good player but they need a bit more depth in the squad. So they’ve got to buy some players but I don’t think the policy is to buy superstars, it’s to buy players that Pochettinho can develop and improve.

Having not spent any money in the last two transfer windows and still qualified for the Champion’s League next season, I think Spurs are in the perfect position to attract players because the best players want to play in the Champion’s League. 

I believe Spurs made the biggest profit of any club in the world in the most recent financial year so they’ve made money. Of course they’ve borrowed huge amounts to do the stadium but, despite the spend on the stadium, they are in an amazingly strong position to buy players.

Spurs under Levy will not spend over the odds and I think this is right. I have to balance my books as an individual and football clubs should be responsible enough to do that too. 

Levy is definitely not irresponsible when it comes to spending but for me now is the perfect time for Spurs to strengthen and doing so will hopefully take them that next step. The current model has worked extremely well and its just a case of possibly increasing the budget a little bit.

As far as blowing the whole budget on one or two ‘superstars’, like a Paul Pogba, I don’t think that fits the Spurs model and I don’t think Pochettino wants to do that either.

For me you don’t go and buy Pogba for Tottenham, even if the deal was doable, because actually the way Tottenham work is very much team orientated and even the stars within the spurs side like Kane, Eriksen , Alli they are all very level headed, grounded people and the way Pogba operates at times is almost like a one man show.

I’m not spending hours watching the Bundesliga, the Eredevisie, Ligue 1 and other competitions all over the world like the Spurs scouts are so it’s difficult for me to suggest names of the sort of prospects that the club has consistently done a good job of bringing in over the years.

But you can’t help but get drawn towards players who have done well very recently and if you look at the Ajax side there’s two or three there who are very much Tottenham players for me. In particular De Jong in midfield, but he’s gone to Barcelona and De Ligt at the back but again he’s likely to go elsewhere. 

I don’t think there are many more attractive clubs to join than Spurs. Yes of course there’s Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and then in England there’s Man City and Liverpool but I would probably put Tottenham in the top eight clubs in the world that players would like to come and join at the moment.

So De Jong and De Ligt might be out of reach but those are the type of calibre signings I would like to see Spurs going for. In terms of trying to sign a ‘superstar’ it depends on the character and the personality of that player. A Pogba wouldn’t fit in for me but a De Jong would have been perfect and I’d like to see Spurs show that type of ambition in the transfer market. 

In terms of outgoing the general feeling is that Trippier hasn’t had a very good season. He did great in the World Cup and really came to prominence but hasn’t had a good season at Spurs and I don’t think it would be a huge loss if he went.

Maybe it makes sense to sell Eriksen just because of the sort of the transfer fee he could command. Liverpool did it with Coutinho, with the £130 million they got for him they bought in Van Dyk and Alisson and its made them. But the Spurs squad hasn’t got a great deal of depth so if Eriksen leaves they need to sign another player of that ilk for sure.

There might also be internal options. What happens is when a big player goes it gives the opportunity to a younger player to fill the void but until that big player goes and the young player has the opportunity to fill the void you never really know if he’s going to be able to make the step up or not. 

I look at the Spurs squad and I think if they can keep everybody and add to it that would be the ideal way. There’s a couple of peripheral players who could be moved on but certainly Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Eriksen are players in my opinion they need to keep and add to. Having said that, if you can get £100 million or more for Eriksen and bring in quality replacements then that’s always an option to consider.

It’s going to be very difficult for any of the other clubs to close the gap on Liverpool and Man City. If you look at their squads, they are much deeper, you need that depth.

So Tottenham will definitely need to recruit this summer, and selling a player like Eriksen might even be the best way to do that. But it’s about getting quality not quantity, otherwise Spurs just have to go with a thin squad. That’s what happened last season, and it didn’t work out too badly!

England are moving in the right direction under Gareth Southgate

After England lost to Holland at the Nation’s League Gareth Southgate’s side came in for a lot of criticism for building from the back and making mistakes. But that’s whats got them to the semi final of the World Cup a year ago, and I think they must stick with it because all the top sides play that way .

You get people who say ‘we overplay at the back’ or ‘we aren’t good enough’ well if we aren’t good enough the way to get good is to stick at it and I think Gareth Southgate will do that.

John Stones has made a big mistake for Holland’s second goal in the semi final but that doesn’t mean the entire philosophy should change.

Every single player makes mistakes. England scored from the penalty spot because Matthijs de Ligt, the Dutch defender who is already regarded as one of the best central defenders in the world as a 19 year old, made a mistake.

I remember my first North London derby when I joined Spurs. It was at home against Arsenal in the League Cup. I was the last defender and instead of just clearing the ball I tried to retain possession and I lost it and we went 1-0 down.

The balls been knocked over the top and I’ve come out and instead of playing it back up the pitch I’ve tried a dummy so I could turn out and pass to Ray Clemence and Tony Woodcock has read that and nicked the ball. We ended up losing 2-1 and getting knocked out of the cup and I got a lot of stick.

One of the biggest problems with today’s game is that people rush to judgments. If a player makes a mistake he’s worthless and if a player scores a goal he’s worth a fortune.

People judge and make decisions on one game or one incident within a game but the best decision makers, in terms of recruiting players, make their decisions based on a long period of assessment. Anyone can have a bad game or a good game.

My advice to John Stones would be to continue playing with belief in his ability because every player makes mistakes but the best players will always bounce back. It took de Ligt less than an hour to bounce back from his defensive error against England by heading in the equalizer.

It took me nearly five months to make up for my mistake in the North London Derby. I came in for a lot of criticism during my first season with Spurs and that was one of the mistakes that really encouraged the fans to get on my back.

We finished 8th so it was a poor season league wise but what got me out of jail was that we won the UEFA Cup and that’s what people remember. Clubs obviously have more opportunities to win trophies than countries do but I’m sure John Stones will turn his England career around too.

I think Gareth Southgate has done a fantastic job, we are looking much better on the pitch and we got to the semi final of the World Cup. We didn’t perform that well in that match but now it’s about getting to the next semi final and hopefully doing better so I think everybody just needs to be a bit more level and calm and not rush to negative judgments based on a single result.

One positive thing that came out of the Nation’s League was that we ended up in a very competitive penalty shoot out and we won it. Historically we lose penalty shoot outs but the last two we have won them so there’s always positives.

I think the biggest positive is the number of young English players who are coming through. The average age of the team that played in the semi final against Holland was just over 24.

Winning the World Cup or European Championships is very difficult to do, but England are definitely moving in the right direction under Southgate and everyone needs to get behind him and understand that England might not always get the right result and players might not always make the right decisions but that doesn’t mean that the entire process is wrong.

Winning a European final with Spurs

The last time Tottenham won a European final I was there. I played the whole 120 minutes in the second leg against Anderlecht and scored in the penalty shoot out.

With Tottenham set to play in the Champion’s League final for the first time in their history I have been thinking about that night at White Hart Lane in 1984. A lot has changed in football since then, but some things will always be the same.

Football wasn’t as big back then as it is now but both legs were live on ITV. Brian Moore was the commentator and Brian Clough was the pundit and in those days there were only four channels so I would think the viewing figures would have been absolutely huge.

Of course there will be far more people watching the 2019 Champion’s League Final. But there are other similarities to 1984 because we nearly ended up with an all English final that year too.

It was Nottingham Forest against Anderlecht in the other semi final so once we got past Hadjuk Split in our game the last thing I wanted was for us to be playing Forest in a European final. It was a European tournament and I wanted to play European sides.

For me personally it was the first time I’d played European football. I’d played internationally at Under 21 level for England but I’d never played club European football. For me it felt like an adventure, I had a difficult season  domestically in my first season with Spurs, I found it hard to adapt and it was like a breath of fresh air playing European football.

It was different, we were going to play at Feyenoord, Bayern Munich, Austria Vienna… but leading up to the final I think there was just a real belief in the club that it was our year, we were going to win it.

I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like the 95th minute winner against Ajax which took Spurs through to the final because when I used to play if you had 1 or 2 minutes of additional time it was exceptional. You played 45 minutes and the whistle went and that was it so I never played in games like that with 5, 6, 7 minutes of stoppage time.

When you win as dramatically as that I think it does start to positively affect you and you think ‘it could be our year’. You look at the things that have gone your way, at one stage it looked like Spurs weren’t even going to get out of the group and then they drew Man City, Man City were the team no-one really wanted to draw at that stage but Aguero missed a penalty and Spurs got through it. Deep down inside you start to think ‘it could just be’.

My advice to the Spurs players would be to focus on the performance, not the result. Go out and enjoy it because if you enjoy it it will almost certainly mean you have played close to your full potential, and if you do that you’ve got a good chance of being victorious.