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Premier League in Focus with Kevin Affleck: Pochettino inspires Spurs' thumping win over QPR (video)


Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against Queens Park Rangers during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London August 24, 2014. Photo - Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Much ado was made about Mauricio Pochettino not speaking publicly in English when in charge of Southampton. He preferred to let results do the talking instead. But Spurs apparently insisted Pochettino spoke in the tongue of his adopted home when they appointed him as their new manager to replace Tim Sherwood in the summer. 

Yet it could well be his ability to converse in his own language with fellow Argentinian Erik Lamela that could hold the key to his reign at White Hart Lane.
Lamela was the most expensive, and therefore the most high profile, of Tottenham's hive of transfer activity last summer as they sought to seemingly spend the money from the sale of Gareth Bale before the £85.3 million cheque from Real Madrid had even cleared. 

Amid the £100 million splurge, it is easy to forget they spent £25.8 million (a further £4.2 million is related to certain clauses) on Lamela, a club record. Perhaps the figure would have been more startling had they not broken the record twice in as many proceeding weeks when recruiting Paulinho and Roberto Soldado, but even so it certainly represented a massive hike on the £16.5 million they paid Dinamo Zagreb five summers earlier for Luka Modric. 

To say Lamela underwhelmed in his first season is like saying Daniel Levy changes manager from time to time. 

He scored just once in 17 appearances and that solitary goal came against a team from Moldova. He did not appear once after an 11-minute cameo against Stoke City on December 29, 2013 and by the time he had recovered from a season-ending back injury, he had celebrated another birthday, his 22nd, Argentina had made the World Cup final and Spurs had changed manager for the umpteenth time. 

Even Fantasy Football managers were hesitant about picking Lamela in their dream team on the eve of the new season as fears grew that he would struggle to acclimatise to the rigours of English football in the same way his countryman Juan Sebastian Veron did at Manchester United.

But Levy would be damned if he was going to even consider taking a loss on someone he shelled out such a big transfer on and knew if anyone was going to unlock the potential of Lamela then it would be Pochettino, the Argentine alchemist. 

One of his first moves was to restore Lamela to the starting XI and make him the team's creative hub. Operating in the space behind Emmanuel Adebayor he fizzed in the season opener against West Ham, set up both goals in the Europa League win in Cyprus before sparkling and shining in the August sunshine against Queens Park Rangers. 

It is too early to anoint him as the new darling of White Hart Lane, particularly before the harsh winter which usually tests the resolve of cosmopolitan imports, but it was ironic that comfortably his best and most flamboyant display in a Spurs shirt came in front of the watching Glenn Hoddle, arguably Spurs' finest flair player who returned on Sunday as part of Harry Redknapp's QPR coaching staff.

Redknapp is one of many managers not in favour of the person who usually acts as a conduit between them and the chairman, the individual usually given the grandiose title of technical or sporting director. Spurs have Franco Baldini fulfilling that role and Lamela's resurgence will be a relief to him. Baldini wound up at Spurs via Roma after creating a less than favourable impression among the England players when serving as Fabio Capello's assistant. 

He has been handed the keys to Spurs' transfer kitty by Levy and the fact that Ben Davies, Moussa Dembele and Soldado were on the bench on Sunday while there was not even a place in the 16 for Paulinho was hardly a ringing endorsement of his acumen in the market. 

But the Premier League is a test of team's depth of squad, as well as their mental fortitude and endurance, and those will be put to the test twice in the next four games when they face Liverpool and Manchester City.

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