Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino was hasty to praise Tanguy Ndombele’s impact against Liverpool on Sunday as he questioned whether the midfielder made an impact at Anfield.
Spurs began with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min in an attacking lineup which worked in helping them get ahead through Harry Kane after 47 seconds, but was also their downfall when Liverpool responded with unrelenting pressure.
In the second half, Ndombele was introduced on 63 minutes – it seemed – to help turn the tide back in the visitors’ favour after Jordan Henderson’s equaliser and it also seemed the club’s marquee summer signing did just that.
“Big difference? Doing what?” the manager said. “Yes, but in this time the game was different no? I think be careful how we assess.
“I was talking to some of your colleagues before the game. With 29 players in the squad it’s so important to rotate and keep them all motivated to play. He played on Tuesday in the Champions League and I think Harry Winks was fresh to play.
“That’s normal and what we need from players from the bench to make an impact. But of course he’s doing good passes. He’s fresh. That’s normal. If it’s the opposite we have a problem,” he added.
Pochettino added that it will take time before Ndombele is in his best form in a Spurs shirt.
“We cannot assess him enough to say he is doing well or not so well,” the Argentine added. “For me it’s fantastic the things he adds to the team, I am so happy with him like I am so happy with different players.
“Still for me, when you sign a player, despite the amount you pay, with the profile of Tanguy Ndombele or Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon you need minimum one year and a half, or two years.
“Look at what happened with Son or [Moussa] Sissoko, they started to perform in year two, year three. That is why when you are so young… today the market is the market, you cannot judge the player because you paid some kind of amount.
“He played two years in Lyon and moved to England where everything is new, but the quality is there. They need time to show their real quality.”
Spurs are back on Merseyside on Sunday when they play Everton at Goodison Park.