Demanding September Schedule Gives Tanguy Ndombele the Chance to Prove His Worth

Tottenham's schedule to start the 2020/21 campaign is simply ludicrous.

With just 17 days of September remaining, there's a high possibility - providing they aren't upset by continental minnows in the Europa League qualifiers - the Lilywhites will contest seven games of football by the month's end across three competitions.

It's horribly demanding and even dangerous. The possibility of injury is high considering Jose Mourinho isn't blessed with the sort of squad depth Pep Guardiola has at his disposal. Sure, rotation will be aplenty but there's no doubting the workload for some of Spurs' key stars will be unnecessarily overwhelming in the first month of the new season.

Just think of Harry Kane's poor old *insert any muscle/ligament part here for crying out loud.

Nevertheless, while it's incredibly tough to find a silver lining from their September schedule, perhaps it's exactly what their record-signing needs to kick-start the most exhilarating of remontada's in 2020/21.

Tanguy Ndombele endured a mightily disappointing debut campaign in north London following his £55m from Lyon last summer.

Following remarkable Champions League showings against Manchester City and Barcelona for Les Gones in the 2018/19 campaign, many regarded Ndombele as the heir to Mousa Dembele's throne and the protagonist in the second cycle of Mauricio Pochettino's reign.

But blighted by nagging injuries after an impressive start to the season, fitness woes, acclimatisation difficulties and a phantom 'attitude issue', Ndombele's maiden campaign was nothing short of a false dawn.

The supreme and mightily unique gift the Frenchman possesses with the ball at his feet was persistently teased - often as a substitute. But his status on the 'world-beater to unathletic liability' continuum - not an actual thing by the way - seemingly depended on the phase of the game.

For all his brilliance in possession, his poor recovery running and sub-par positional awareness saw him lose the trust of Mourinho following the Portuguese string-puller's November arrival. Ndombele started just three times under Pochettino's successor in the Premier League last time out.

The first, a man of the match-worthy display in a 2-2 draw at Norwich, was followed by a tough afternoon against Mateo Kovacic at Stamford Bridge two months later and then came that trip to Burnley. He was hooked at half-time after an indifferent opening period.

It was a showing that sparked harsh words from his manager, while his woes were portrayed to the wider world via Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football two days later.

“In the first half we didn’t have a midfield.” Jose Mourinho post-Burnley draw

Mourinho's lack of faith in the outrageously talented midfielder saw him stuck on the backbenches after the restart in June - even after the Spurs boss had complimented Ndombele's work during the three-month hiatus - amid an emphasis on what he described as a 'defensive process'.

Thus, the more reliable Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso were favoured along with workhorse Moussa Sissoko as Mourinho's central midfield options.

Ndombele could only muster 64 minutes of action in Spurs' last nine Premier League games, as a hamstring issue ruled him out for the final three encounters.

But following a summer that included a positive COVID-19 test and persistent links with a move to Antonio Conte's Inter, there's a fresh sense of optimism regarding Ndombele's status and future in N17.

"He’s working very hard. I have to be honest and say he is working better than ever. He is working very, very hard. So the point now is, can he keep that commitment and desire? If he does it, he has incredible potential," were the words uttered by perhaps Ndombele's harshest critic in Mourinho - @BarryShedEnd on Twitter aside, of course - ahead of the new campaign.

It's music to the ears of Spurs fans, and just highlights what Mourinho's said all along. There is no Iron Curtain rift between the pair despite the media's best efforts. This is Jose with Tanguy, not Jose against Tanguy.

Deep down, the Portuguese boss must be aware of just how important the Frenchman is in defining his era in north London.

Ndombele is no flash in the pan talent, he's an incredibly effective and destructive midfielder who opens up a realm of possibilities for 'the Special One'. Through remarkable balance and guile, the 24-year-old's able to resist the fiercest of opposition presses unlike most in Europe, while his masterful ball-manipulation and captivating unpredictability in possession have seen him emerge as one of the continent's premier dribbles in his position.

Combine that with the vision, the discovery of angles that makes Pythagoras jealous and a consistent and crisp passing technique which allows him to execute almost every pass in the book, it's easy to understand why so many Spurs fans are desperate to see him shine in north London.

He's a player you pay to watch, simple as. An edge of your seat footballer in full cry.

But what he has to discover is a new-found mentality to ensure his ridiculous potential is realised. Fitness issues are less worrying despite their prominence in his debut campaign - he proved himself at Lyon to be an athletic midfielder capable of contributing in all thirds and phases, so that should come with time and continued acclimatisation.

The club-record signing now has the opportune time to prove his worth amid a bucket-load of fixtures in September. His lack of football over the past three months means it's unlikely he'll start in Spurs' Premier League opener against Everton, but trips to eastern Europe present the Frenchman with handy opportunities for minutes.

Overall, though, you feel the next two months will go a long way in defining Tanguy Ndombele's time in north London.

This is his chance for redemption, and it has the potential to be spectacular.

Source : 90min