Why I’m hoping that Anthony Georgiou can follow Danny Rose’s path into the first team:
After an impressive time away with Spurs’ first team in America last month, academy graduate Anthony Georgiou is continuing to show signs of improvement to his game ahead of the start of the domestic season. Over a year has past since he made his explosive debut for the first team during the 2017 tour of the states, with a terrific performance against AS Roma. A fruitful season followed for the Londoner, who would later go onto make his competitive debut for the Lilywhites during our champions league game with APOEL Nicosia, in Anthony’s native Cyprus. If that wasn’t already enough Georgiou also went onto win two international caps for Cyprus that same season. Dividing his time training with the first team and the development side, Georgiou also made 13 appearances for the under 23’s last season. Scoring on one occasion. A stark contrast to the injury hit 2016/17 season that he endured. It was so refreshing to see so many of our academy players involved with the first team on our tour of America. Anthony was joined by the likes of Oliver Skipp, Luke Amos, George Marsh and TJ Eyoma, all of whom were excellent for Pochettino’s side when called upon. Georgiou played in all three of our ICC games featuring prominently in our encounters with Barcelona and AC Milan, and he won many plaudits off of Spurs supporters in the process. With his explosive pace and good awareness Georgiou proved effective down the right wing after coming on as a second half substitute against Barcelona in game two. Eager to run at the Barcelona defence Georgiou’s tricky attacking forays asked questions of the Spanish sides fullback Marc Cucurella and he would go onto create Nkoudou’s equaliser during the latter stages of the game (even though he should have been awarded the goal!).
In his next outing Georgiou would be played at left back as Spurs took on Italian giants AC Milan in Minneapolis. This is where I thought Georgiou had his best game of the tour. Not only did he read the game well and defend to a good standard, Anthony was exceptionally bright going forwards. His rapid pace left him in good stead as he galloped down the left wing linking up well with and overlapping Nkouodu. He is no stranger to playing at wing back, he featured prominently in that position for Burnett’s development side last season putting in some strong defensive performances. He looked incredibly assured whilst up against Milan’s tricky forward Suso, I thought he tracked him well and prevented him from enjoying too much space out on the right wing. He also carried the ball extremely well, his fine skill and balance helping him to get away from Milan players whilst in tight spaces. However, Georgiou was very much an attacking fullback throughout the entirety of his time on the pitch he would surge forwards whenever he had the opportunity, and was always looking to take players on. Something which is so typical of his game, he is such a direct and forward thinking winger a traditional wide man in many respects. Having watched Anthony play at youth level for so long I’ve no doubts whatsoever that he could become a Pochettino style wingback much like Danny Rose has managed to become. Rose once a winger himself was converted to fullback in his early 20’s and whilst it took him a fair while and a couple of loan moves before he learnt his trade and adapted his game. He managed to defy the odds. And it wasn’t too long ago that he was regarded as one of the finest left backs in the world something which few Spurs fans would have predicted only a couple of seasons earlier.
On each of his seven appearances for the first team Georgiou has only ever drawn positive feedback from fans. However, as great as it is to see the likes of Georgiou, Amos and Skipp playing pre-season friendlies it is crucial that they get to play competitive games for the first team as well. As the old saying goes it’s a fine dividing line. In my opinion Anthony shows all the hallmarks of being a top class wingback he has speed, skill, agility and good awareness. He also has an absolute wand of a left foot, he is a good crosser of the ball and he can certainly test the goalkeeper as well. As shown on the tour he also has good vision and has the ability to pick out key passes to the forwards. The Lewisham born winger is courageous and has a ridiculously high work rate and loves to press the opposing teams defenders. I’ll never forget that time I was watching our under 23’s take on Manchester United back in 2016. Georgiou who was our best player that day suffered a nasty gash to the side of his head. Despite dripping with blood he was up and down that flank like nobody else, even though he was quite clearly in some discomfort. In some respects he reminds me of my fellow countryman James McClean, a marauding left winger who is also adept at playing at wingback I have watched him play extensively over the years. McClean who is a star for the Irish national team is lightening quick like Georgiou, he is also strong and has a wand of a left foot. Although Georgiou is far more skilful than the Stoke player the thing that is so strikingly similar about them is their relentless chasing down of the opposition. Like McClean, Georgiou has the most exceptional work rate it doesn’t matter if he’s playing as a wingback or as an out and out winger. The youngster is nonstop, he tracks back at every opportunity and unlike other players on the pitch he’ll make those lung bursting runs to commit himself defensively.
When Pochettino’s side face Girona tomorrow in their final game of pre-season Georgiou will likely be given more game ahead of the start of our premier league campaign the following Saturday. In my eyes he has proven himself at this level both as a winger and as a wingback, he is also far too good to be playing at youth level. He is a player capable of offering so much more to the first team whether that be as an impact sub playing on the wing or as a youthful wingback, he would also undoubtedly save Pochettino money. Georgiou is a special talent and one who thoroughly deserves to be fully integrated into the first team squad this season. Like Rose was at the same age Georgiou is a natural attack minded winger whose first thoughts are to beat his man down the left wing. That is something which we have lacked since the days of Lennon and Bale and something which is so key to the way Pochettino’s likes his side to play football. Rose was once that kind of player but he was able to use his speed and skill to his advantage so as to better his defensive game. I have a great feeling about this season for Georgiou and I think that he can go a step further than he did last season by getting more game time. Whether that will be for the first team or for another club out on loan we’ll have to wait and see. However, if somebody was to ask me which youth player most deserves to have a sustained run in the first team this season I would say Anthony without any hesitation. For me he has the all attributes of a top wingback/winger and I and many other Spurs fans are looking forward to seeing how he progresses this season. I just thoroughly hope that Pochettino will give the fearless wideman more game time to prove his worth.