Three key issues Tottenham must resolve: Dressing room antics, a firm defence... and getting best out of Bale

Dan Kilpatrick
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Going into the international break on the back of a win can often be frustrating but for Tottenham the fortnight provided a welcome hiatus, allowing them to reset and move on from the dismal defeats to Arsenal and Dinamo Zagreb.

Harry Kane’s future tediously emerged as a talking point during the break but the issue reflects Spurs’s need to make a success of their strange season.

With nine games to play, the top four remains firmly within reach and 12 points from their last 15 suggests they should not be discounted.

The question will be whether they can beat the teams around them and Sunday’s trip to Newcastle is followed by a visit from Manchester United, which promises to be revealing.

Jose Mourinho’s future remains in doubt but he would answer his critics with a win over Man City in this month’s EFL Cup Final.

Here are three immediate issues for Mourinho to resolve as domestic football returns...

Fix the dressing room squabbles

Mourinho and captain Hugo Lloris painted a bleak picture of a broken Spurs dressing room in the week before the break.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Lloris criticised the “togetherness” of the squad and questioned if players on the bench were supporting the team in the wake of the humiliating Europa League defeat to Dinamo, while Mourinho claimed outside elements, including agents, were disrupting his dressing room after the win over Aston Villa.

Clearly, if Spurs are to make a success of their stuttering season by finishing in the top four and winning the EFL Cup, Mourinho must restore dressing room harmony and ensure the majority of his squad are pulling in the same direction.

Spurs have tough and decisive fixtures to come, not least against Man City at Wembley on April 25, and they will stand little chance if their team spirit remains fractured.

Decide on a defensive partnership

Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Mourinho responded to the Dinamo defeat by starting young defenders Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga against Aston Villa – something many supporters have long wanted to see – and the pair were impressive in a 2-0 win.

With Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier both absent through illness, however, it was not clear if Mourinho was effectively forced into the selections, so it will be intriguing to see if he reverts to experience for Sunday’s visit to Newcastle.

Whatever the manager’s decision, Spurs would benefit from consistency at the back during the run-in, which should not pose a problem now they are out of Europe and largely down to one match a week.

Get the best out of Bale

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

Making the best of Gareth Bale’s season back at Spurs remains one of Mourinho’s biggest challenges.

Bale underlined his quality again during the international break with a superb cross for Daniel James’s winning goal for Wales against the Czech Republic, and he has shown enough this season to suggest he could be a decisive player for Spurs in the run-in.

After a run of dazzling displays, Mourinho was frustrated by Bale in the north London derby defeat to Arsenal and he was subsequently dropped for the Villa game.

With Giovani Lo Celso fit again and Lucas Moura playing better than ever in a Spurs shirt, competition is fierce in Mourinho’s front four and there is no guarantee Mourinho will give Bale more opportunities.

But surely Spurs would benefit from starting him in the EFL Cup final, where his big-game experience could be a decisive, while fans will be desperate to serenade an in-form Bale when they are finally allowed back into White Hart Lane for the final home game of this season.

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