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How the other half lives: a Q&A with Cartilage Free Captain

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Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

It’s Q&A time again! Instead of just asking random questions of random people, though, we thought we’d try something crazy and ask the people that run SBNation’s Tottenham blog, Cartilage Free Captain, about this weekend’s big derby match. As usual, Sean Cahill was more than gracious about taking the time to answer my questions, and I did the same for him - those are right here for your enjoyment.

TSF: Following the (in)famous Summer of Inactivity after the 2017/18 season, Spurs spent a lot of money this past summer. Was that money spent on legitimate needs, or was it spent in part because there was a perception it needed to be spent?

CFC: Spurs definitely hit some needs. The midfield was held together by Gorilla Glue and duct tape by the end of the year. While players like Moussa Sissoko stepped up and busted their asses to somehow get the club to the Champions League final, it was clear where the biggest needs were. Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso are massive pick-ups and I cannot wait to see them fully integrated with the squad.

Ryan Sessegnon was a purchase to basically get out ahead of a problem. Danny Rose is still a great fullback, but he’s pushing 30 and there was that bizarre deadline day thing where he somehow turned up at Watford before Spurs told them to get lost. Sessegnon is going to be the long-term replacement at left fullback.

Then there’s Jack Clarke, who is the proverbial lottery ticket of the group. At £10m, it’s cheap enough where if he comes good, Spurs end up with a quality English player for years to come. If he doesn’t quite live up to expectations, it’s not going to break the bank and they can still recoup the money for him down the road. That’s a win-win and Spurs should be buying one player like that every summer.

TSF: Are you worried that Spurs lackluster start to the season is more than a hangover from last years European run?

CFC: Not yet, but there are others who are breathing into a paper bag already.

There’s no getting around Spurs’ crappy form in the league last year. Hell, it almost cost them Champions League football this year (thanks for equally being terrible, by the way.) but they somehow snuck in the back door. Everyone chalked it up to the myriad of injuries and guys playing too many matches with little rest. Apparently, there’s more to it because these first three matches have been weird as hell.

The Villa match, I thought we played great the second half. First half was rough, but that happens sometimes. They came out did what they should do in that second half.

The City match? I still don’t know what happened that we stole a point at the Etihad. I know City fans are angry at VAR again (lol) but as we say on our site: Sometimes you just get football’d. That’s what happened to City.

Last week was bad. No excuses on that. Bad tactics. Bad lineup. Bad everything. Burn that tape and move on.

TSF: Is there more pressure on Spurs to win things this year, or is there a general sense of contentment, for lack of a better word, with life in Spurs-land after last season?

I think it’s about time Pochettino win some trophies, and he’s acknowledged this in interviews. The rebuild has been great and Spurs have played some damn attractive football along the way, but it’s time to cash in and put some silverware in this shiny new stadium. After knocking on the door of the ultimate prize in club football back in June, the supporters are eager.

TSF: If Spurs have another really good season but end up with nothing to show for it, does that increase the odds that Poch goes somewhere that offers the chance to take that next step and win trophies?

CFC: It’s hard to say at this point. The last two years, we’ve been concerned that a Real Madrid or Manchester United would back up the Brinks truck to his home and just start throwing bags of money at him until he says stop. Somehow, that has not happened. I’d honestly be terrified if Paris Saint-Germain came calling, to be honest. He could win Ligue 1 blindfolded as well as the domestic cup.

The thing that’s kept us from panicking is that Tottenham Hotspur is basically “Pochettino FC” at the moment (TSF EDITOR’S NOTE: what could possibly go wrong?). He has almost complete control over everything football. I doubt he would get the same kind of control at a Manchester United, Real Madrid, etc. I know he won’t end up at Barcelona due to his Espanyol ties, but there are plenty of mega clubs with blank checks that could turn his head in a hurry.

TSF: Have we seen the last of Christian Eriksen at Spurs? After all the churn around him this summer, if the answer to that question is yes, my followup question is, will Spurs fans mind that?

CFC:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ask yourself this question: How the hell is Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld still on this team? Eriksen basically put up a gigantic neon sign that said “Come get me” and nobody bothered to buy the plane tickets. Toby Alderweireld had a paltry £25m release clause that nobody even thought to activate. These two things baffle me to this very day.

The gut and brain tell me that he’s gone either this week or next Summer on a free transfer. PSG have suddenly stepped in as a possible landing point if they some how f*ck off Neymar to [Insert Mega Club Here] for the GDP of an island nation while Zidane is still banging his head against the walls of Old Trafford hoping he bursts through and Paul Pogba comes running out with his bags packed. Barcelona haven’t shown a lick of interest, which is crazy given we’re convinced they’re the ones that started this stupid saga last year in the first place. He was all set to sign a stupidly big contract, but there were whispers that Barcelona put out feelers and Eriksen got his head turned. Now, one year later, Eriksen is still on this team and Spurs may get nothing for him in the end.

That being said, he could shock us all and stay long-term after signing that contract that’s collected dust for the last 12 months!

TSF: OBLIGATORY BANTER QUESTION: How did it feel watching Spurs remake Arsenal’s 2005-06 season almost frame by frame last year?

Honestly? Exhausting. Stressful. Chaotic.

But it was damn fun.

Surviving the group stages when Spurs were dead to rights after three matches. Blasting Dortmund. Knocking out City in the most hilarious way possible. Lucas Moura’s hat trick for The Miracle of Amsterdam. I honestly wouldn’t give it up, even with the ending. To see this club in a Champions League final was fantastic. We know now that they are capable of making the run. They just need one last step.

TSF: What’s your prediction for Spurs’ lineup this weekend?

CFC: Spurs have a couple guys on the mend, so here’s what we know:

OUT: Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring), Juan Foyth (achilles), Tanguy Ndombele (thigh)

MATCHDAY DECISIONS: Jan Vertonghen (Who knows at this point?), Dele (hamstring),

I expect Dele to play. There’s a big cry out for Vertonghen to be restored but that story is just weird. Let’s go with this:

(4-4-2 Diamond): Lloris; Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Sissoko; Winks; Dele, Eriksen; Lamela; Kane, Son

TSF: And what’s your predicted score?

2-2 draw. I may or may not have just rolled two dice and went with those numbers.

Thanks again to Sean and CFC for taking our questions!