Speaking to the media in December 2017, with his side sitting 15 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City, Mauricio Pochettino addressed Tottenham’s stuttering start to the season. Despite Spurs placing sixth in the table, having only won one game in six, it wasn’t events on the pitch that had the manager lamenting a terminal sluggishness costing his club points, but in the summer transfer window four months closed. “Our new players need six or seven months to adapt themselves to the team, the dynamics, everything,” he declared. “And that is always against us. It is important to identify our transfer targets and on 3 July, when we start preseason, have them here. If not, it's so difficult for them to help the team. And during the season, you're going to pay.” Coupled with the manager’s musings five months later — that Spurs’s moneybags need to “be brave” and “take risks” in future windows — many interpreted it as a frantic forewarning. To fast-forward two months on from May, with the club’s transfer business once again insipidly torpid — despite Pochettino’s augmenting groans — there is now a well-founded trepidation that the Argentine’s patience may be pushed well beyond breaking point this summer. (That is, unless a flurry of activity comes into play before 9 August.) Is this injudicious scaremongering, or should we read between the lines? Think: for all of our manager’s faults — stubbornness and tactical naivety being chief — his foremost endearing quality is that he is a man of principle. A flick through the pages of his book, Brave New World, will serve you a cognizance of Pochettino’s character. His entire philosophy on football — and life, for that matter — is founded on loyalty, trust, commitment and, above all, ensuring you keep to your word. When a man is as principled as Pochettino is, anyone who reneges on his hallowed trust will suffer. Harry Kane remarked his manager is “ruthless if you cross him”; Kyle Walker and Toby Alderweireld will no doubt attest to this. In 2014 Southampton’s new owners played a dangerous game with Pochettino when sacking executive chairman Nicola Cortese — the man who brought him to the South Coast. (An adiós from the Argentine swiftly followed.) But what about our chairman, Daniel Levy — can he afford to test this man’s steely resolve, and come out unscathed? Pochettino signing a new five-year-deal should’ve been a signifier for change. After all, he had gone from casting doubt over his future, following a tepid FA Cup semi-final defeat, to committing wholly to the cause; this, in just under a month. Many surmised something had given way; assurances made by the higher powers that dealings would be conducted differently in the future. And yet here we are, in the back end of July, with little-to-no business finalised. It’s not spoilt fan hysteria to question why the club is once again dallying on deals — especially when the manager harbours the exact same thinking. Both know how important it is for new players to get “Pochettino fit” so they can make an impact right away. Morgan Schneiderlin said it took him over a year to understand Pochettino’s tactics at Southampton, while players like Son, Davies and Trippier required a similar timeframe to bed-in at Tottenham. The same can be said of Lucas Moura. An interlude in incomings also comes a literal cost for Pochettino and the club — and I’m not talking pound sterling. A failure to provide new players with (in Pochettino’s own words) the “months to adapt themselves to the team, the dynamics, everything”, ensures we’re hamstrung for the campaign’s opening round of fixtures. In the past three seasons, Spurs have dropped an average of nine points in their opening nine league games; it’s a haul that comes back to haunt when the Premier League trophy is hoisted aloft — alas, not by ourselves — in May. It’s no exaggeration to conclude that Pochettino is competing with his Premier League contemporaries with one arm tied behind his back: the man has delivered three consecutive top-three finishes and Champions League qualification with a net spend of just £40.25m across four seasons. And while we’re here dreaming what he could achieve if given the transfer window he’s been promised, we could yet end up ruing what will happen if he doesn’t.