Son Heung-Min's revival at Spurs is proof Mauricio Pochettino's talent matches his ego

MAURICIO POCHETTINO has been blowing ‘Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur’
on his own trumpet this week – and, after 11 goals in two matches, who
can blame him?

The Spurs manager insisted his club’s achievements, in challenging for
the title on such a relatively small budget, are beyond compare
throughout Europe.

It is the sort of ego which proves Poch is ready for Manchester United
or Real Madrid, trophies or not.

The Argentine knows exactly how good he is, and is aware that his
extraordinary man-management will propel Spurs into the Champions
League for a fourth straight season, even if they are the outsiders in
a three-horse title race.

Ask those at Spurs to nominate Poch’s greatest individual success
story and they will more than likely point you towards Son Heung-Min.

The South Korean begged his manager to leave after a disappointing
first season in 2015-16, following his hefty £22million move from
Bayer Leverkusen.

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Son has notched seven league goals this seasonCredit: AP:Associated Press
The forward bagged a double in his last gameCredit: EPA
Tottenham 5 – 0 Bournemouth – Kane, Son, Eriksen and Moura net to move Spurs ahead of Man City

Son was said to have resembled a little boy lost, on and off the
field, during much of that first campaign.

Yet Poch refused to allow Son to leave, opting for more of a kick up
the jacksie than an arm round the shoulder, demanding that the Korean
justify his manager’s own instincts and prove himself worthy of a
starting berth.

The improvement was astonishing in Son’s second campaign, as Spurs
finished runners-up for the first time in half a century, with the
forward winning two Premier League Player of the Month awards.

In recent weeks the 26-year-old Son has reached a different level
still, with seven goals in as many Premier League games – including
four in those routs of Everton and Bournemouth during the past week.

We’ve now reached a point where Son’s involvement in the Asia Cup in
Dubai is seen as a significant blow in his club’s title bid.

Now second in the league, but likely to sell more players than they
buy in the January sales, Spurs will be without Son for up to five
matches, three in the league.

And while the introduction of Lucas Moura or Erik Lamela should hardly
weaken them, there is a feeling among the Spurs troops that Son has
become intrinsic to their current blazing run of form.

Always a quality supporting actor, with plenty of assists to his name,
Son’s speed, directness and eye for goal have become manic of late.

While Park Ji-Sung was a cult hero at Manchester United and Japan’s
Shinji Okazaki also a title-winner at Leicester, Son is now surely the
Premier League’s greatest Asian import.

Players from the Far East have often been treated with patronising
contempt – ‘they’re only here to sell shirts back home’ – or even
casual racism.

Those from Korea, Japan and China tend to be followed by a pack of
reporters from their home country, who have often been chuckled at for
asking a manager whether their man – usually a fringe player such as
Junichi Inamoto at Arsenal – will get a game, only to be told that he

Yet none of us who were lucky enough to witness South Korea’s march to
the 2002 World Cup semi-finals will ever doubt that nation’s talent
and passion for football.

And now Son, stupidly famous in his homeland, is a standard bearer for
a new generation of Korean players.

Talk of Son’s ‘infectious smile’ sounds faintly condescending – and
while it might well be the widest grin in the top flight, Son has
plenty of snarl too.

After arriving in the Bundesliga with Hamburg as a teenager, he has
required serious determination to reach a point where he is considered
as vital to Spurs as Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli, if not quite
Harry Kane.

Not that there haven’t been moments of self-doubt, especially after
that miserable first season at Spurs when Son was being written off as
a big-money flop.

But if Son and his team-mates can extend their recent streak against
Wolves tomorrow (Sat) and at Cardiff on New Year’s Day, they will put
some serious heat on Liverpool and Manchester City, who face each
other at the Etihad on Thursday.

Poch claims he is a footballing miracle-worker to even be in this
position – and Son is one player who will not be dissuading him of the

THERE’S no time like the festive season to exemplify the unique depth
of support in English football.sunderland bradford 

While Sunderland’s extraordinary attendance of 46,039 for a
third-flight match against struggling Bradford rightly made headlines,
there were remarkable gates further down the football pyramid on
Boxing Day too.

Nowhere else in the world would 8,283 turn up to watch a fifth-tier
match, as seen at Wrexham v Salford City in the National League, while
in the sixth tier 4,549 saw Stockport win their derby against

And in the seventh level – the Bostik Southern Premier Division South
– a remarkable 2,217 paying punters witnessed Weymouth beating

We truly are football daft in this country – and never more so than
when we want to get out of the house at Christmas.

SO which Premier League manager gives the most irritating post-match interviews?

Is it Sean Dyche, blaming non-existent diving, imaginary ill fortune
or global conspiracies for Burnley’s nosedive down the table?

Or is it Rafa Benitez, whose Newcastle team were so unambitious they
couldn’t even muster an on-target shot at home to Fulham, and who
keeps telling us that it would be miracle if he kept the Toon up, even
with teams as bad as Burnley, Fulham and Huddersfield beneath them?

TAKING in two live Premier League matches on Boxing Day – Fulham v
Wolves followed by Watford v Chelsea – showed that England’s
golden-boy teenagers are getting a chance.

Morgan Gibbs-White started for Wolves, Ryan Sessegnon opened the
scoring for Fulham and Callum Hudson-Odoi enjoyed 55 minutes of
first-team action for Chelsea.

Also, a word for ref Andre Marriner – who permitted the sort of
hard-but-fair tackling which tends to be penalised these days and
allowed a feisty Fulham-Wolves match to flow. Refreshingly old

NATIONAL League North club Blyth Spartans have struck an advertising
deal with the North Korean tourist board.

Hang on, did I say ‘National League North’? Sorry, according to Kim
Jong-Il’s official news agency in Pyongyang, that should read
‘reigning Premier League and European champions Blyth Spartans’.

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