Tottenham’s home defeat at the hands of former manager Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa side prompted familiar theorising about the effects of Mauricio Pochettino’s high-intensity methodology on his players over the course of the season.
It was their fourth successive moderate performance after flopping at Manchester United, a 4-3 home win over Leicester and a blank in Burnley.
The Argentine is an advocate of mercilessly thorough fitness work on the training ground and murderously energetic pressing on the field of play and as such an assumption that the ability of his squad to carry out his demands may be steadily eroded by fatigue as the campaign unfolds seems common sense.
But does history bear this out? News.bwin.com have sifted the evidence of his three completed seasons in management to date, with intriguing results.
Having steered Espanyol clear of relegation after being appointed their third coach of a troubled 08/09, Pochettino’s first full tilt at La Liga saw his side do the majority of their losing in the first half of term, contrary to what might be expected.
However, his second season in charge of Los Periquitos saw the Barcelona side’s fates take a significant nosedive in the second half of the campaign after a start vastly superior to the previous year’s effort.
Their resistance really began to crumble in the final ten outings, when just a single win was registered, a springtime malfunction that was repeated to the letter in his third and final full season at Estadi Cornella-El Prat.
Yet the tail off during their last 22 outings of 2011/12 was less dramatic, with less than half of those games lost, compared to 63% the previous year.
That suggests an element of progression and refinement in the Spurs manager’s methods was underway, after the dramatic downturn in the second half of his rookie season in the dugout.
The impression of evolution is seemingly borne out by the numbers during his solitary full campaign at Southampton, in which the results in the final 22 games exceeded those accrued in the first.
In fact his Saints doubtless did even better than the bare numbers suggest in the closing half of 2013/14, with Barnsley and Bristol City the benefactors of two of their autumn/winter wins and no such small fry around to puff up up their springtime ledger.
Their last ten games of 2013/14 also seem to support the idea that Pochettino is gaining a steadily greater handle on how to mitigate the stamina-sapping demands of his style of play with every passing year, with half as many defeats incurred as in his two full campaigns at Espanyol.
Tottenham are 5/6 to claim over 12.5 points from the last six games of the Premier League season from a fixture list including Southampton, Everton and Manchester City.