• Ndombele, who joined Spurs from Lyon in a club-record £65million deal this summer, equalised with 17 minutes to play as Spurs recovered from 1-0 down to begin their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win
• Harry Kane’s double secured the three points late on but afterwards Pochettino reserved special praise for his new midfielder.
Mauricio Pochettino hailed the ‘fantastic’ debut of Tanguy Ndombele on Saturday night—and insists fans have only seen 30 to 40 per cent of his potential after the midfielder’s goal sparked Tottenham’s late comeback against Aston Villa.
Ndombele, who joined Spurs from Lyon in a club-record £65million deal this summer, equalised with 17 minutes to play as Spurs recovered from 1-0 down to begin their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win over Villa on Saturday. Harry Kane’s double secured the three points late on but afterwards Pochettino reserved special praise for his new midfielder.
“Overall it was a fantastic performance but to be honest, I think there is room to improve,” the Spurs boss said. “He only showed 30-40 per cent of his potential, he has amazing potential still to improve.” Ndombele had only scored six goals in 130 senior appearances before Saturday but his timely intervention allowed Spurs to turn the game on its head before Kane completed the job.
“(Scoring) is one of the aspects that he needs to work on, he didn’t score too many goals at Lyon but that is one of the areas that is a target for him to improve this season,” Pochettino said.
“But it’s so early, it’s his first game, (and) he scored. I’m delighted for him, very pleased for him. You know when a player arrives at a team from a different country it’s difficult to adapt and that’s going to help him to feel happy, of course, and feel comfortable on the pitch with the team.”
Villa manager Dean Smith was left to rue his side’s inability to keep the ball in the second half. The visitors led for more than an hour after John McGinn’s first-half opener, only for Spurs to leave them empty-handed come to the final whistle.
“It was always going to be a tough baptism of fire coming here. Performance-wise, I thought the first half was very good, our defensive organisation was very good but we came up against a superior team who deserved to win at the end,’ Smith said.
“I was disappointed with our second-half performance. I felt we were too cheap on the ball, gave it away very cheaply, never retained the ball and when you keep giving the ball away and chase as hard as we did defensively, I think their physicality shone through at the end.”
Villa captain Jack Grealish was guilty of giving the ball away just outside his own box in the build up to Kane’s late winner. The midfielder has now lost 19 consecutive Premier League games - the longest run of any player in the competition’s history.
But Smith refused to put the boot in, insisting: ‘We want players to express themselves, that’s what he’s very good at. Their counter-pressing is what they’re renowned for, they are very good at that. It resulted in a goal, if that was at the other end we might have got a foul but it wasn’t to be.’