Dominant second-half performances against Bulgaria and Macedonian Europa League qualifiers, as well as individual brilliance to outfox a pair of average Premier League midfielders, hardly scream for a return to Super Bowl 51 level, in this one. There is no doubt that Tanguy Ndombele is ahead of the curve. Speed in Tottenham.
There was a point where it was unlikely for the unexpectedly gifted Frenchman to strut his stuff in the N17 this season. Mourinho did not believe he could return in his second season at the club. A point that was like a month ago.
Jose Mourinho has never denied Ndombele’s talent, but questioned his motivation and effort / IAN KINGTON/Getty Images
Inter were ready to strike, but Daniel Levy – who can do no wrong at this point – intervened to express caution over signing his record so soon.
Levy is said to have offered the introverted midfielder plenty of support during a complex acclimatization phase, which the Frenchman admires, and early signs this term suggest the chairman’s influence on the former Lyon star. Trust will be justified.
Tottenham’s Europa League qualifier at Macedonian giants Shikendija could act as the most likely watershed fixture in Ndombele’s first turbulent Spurs career.
His inclusion in Mourinho’s starting XI meant back-to-back starts for the first time under the Portuguese string-puller, and when Steven Bergwijn was replaced in favor of Lucas Moura, it meant Ndombele completed 90 minutes. will For the first time since Spurs drew 2-2 with Norwich…last December.
The Frenchman took control of the second half in Skopje/Robert Atanasovski/Getty Images
And what a fine display it was, his most complete display for the Lilywhites apart from – perhaps – the aforementioned draw at Carrow Road. Along with second-half substitute Giovanni Lo Celso, Ndombele took the contest away from vastly inferior opposition.
But while Tanguy’s distinctive traits have been teased ever since he announced himself to the wider footballing world with stunning Champions League displays against Manchester City and Barcelona in 2018/19 – non-existent angles, variations , the discovery of verticality etc – Tottenham fans were treated to a repeat of the unexpected 24-year-old earlier in the N17.
This was a midfielder defending in transition, tracking runners, competing in duels all over the pitch, winning headers in his own box after 78 minutes and running into attacking transitions in the dying embers. had lived. Sprinting!
Tanguy Ndombele vs FK Shkendija: 5 tackles, 13 ball recoveries, 3 aerial duels, 85% accuracy. #thfc pic.twitter.com/3QF7AtKtzJ
— Hotspur Lane (@HotspurLane) September 24, 2020
Ndombele was the best player on the park, pleasing his harshest critic.
“I’m very happy,” Mourinho said after the match. “He brought a great dynamic to the team. He has gone in a good direction.
“I don’t want the players to cry, I don’t want the players to be disappointed, I don’t want the players to feel that there is something against me when I don’t pick them, I want the players to fight for minutes. They want to be on the pitch. are.”
These are only small steps, but they must feel like giant leaps for Spurs fans.
Never mind Mousa Dembele’s heir to the throne, the most naturally gifted footballer to have been on their books since Luka Modric left City. Ndombele has the potential to define Mourinho’s tenure in north London if he continues his turnaround for a second season.
A ‘very happy’ man / Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
The French example is one that the seemingly alien Dele Alli has to follow.
The Englishman’s relationship with the ‘special one’ was set to be a special one after a remarkable turnaround in form during Mourinho’s honeymoon, but their relationship has soured of late – with the Spurs boss calling the ‘old’ tough guy tried to. – Management practices in an effort to return the English Space Interpreter to its best form.
The 24-year-old has already faced half-time hooking and a pair of matchday squad omissions this term which have put his Spurs future in serious doubt.
He won’t be leaving North London this summer. Instead, he has to respond to his manager’s tough love, whether it’s shedding the ‘lazy trainer’ tag or his frustratingly erratic nature on the pitch.
While Ndombele starred in Skopje on Thursday, Dele’s display was a 60-minute microcosm of his past 18 months: smart off the ball, but distinctly poor on it.
Dele Alli struggles to make an impact on his return to Tottenham / Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
With the sheer amount of attacking talent at Mourinho’s disposal after Gareth Bale’s recovery from a knee injury, Dele will have to rediscover the consistency and unique goal-scoring prowess that marked him early in Mauricio Pochettino’s reign. Over the years has seen him emerge as the country’s brightest talent.
The next few weeks and months will be the final strength of character for the 24-year-old in what feels like a career-defining period.
Dele has to follow in Ndombele’s footsteps and spark his own renaissance otherwise things could start to get too hectic for the former MK Dons starlet.