Tottenham's run of four home Premier League defeats in five isn't all Mauricio Pochettino's fault, but he is the most likely victim...
"While Pochettino is far from the most unpopular man at White Hart Lane, that doesn’t actually help him much if Levy is in need of a scapegoat to ease pressure on himself."
Tottenham's fourth home Premier League defeat of the campaign means that they enter 2014's final international break in the bottom half with just 14 points from 11 fixtures. That's six fewer than at this stage last term, and Andre Villas-Boas was sacked within five matches of that.
Mauricio Pochettino never had much of a honeymoon period, yet there is already talk of a divorce. The former Southampton boss - who certainly isn't helped by trailing the side that he seemingly left for better things by 11 points - has been backed in to 6.411/2 third favourite in the Premier League Next Manager To Leave Position market, having been a 44.0 shot earlier in the year.
It appears from gauging reactions at the games and on social media that Spurs fans don't blame the coach for the current situation, or at least not to the extent that they hold Daniel Levy accountable for the overall strategy or technical director Franco Baldini for underwhelming transfer business.
Indeed, Pochettino gives the impression of being as underwhelmed by the signings as anybody, with only one of the five summer additions featuring against Stoke, Federico Fazio. Eric Dier has started seven Premier League encounters, but Michel Vorm, Ben Davies, Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli have played in two from the off between them.
However, while the Argentine is far from the most unpopular man at White Hart Lane, that doesn't actually help him much if Levy is in need of a scapegoat to ease pressure on himself. As Pochettino is their ninth manager since 2003, the likelihood of that option being taken can never be discounted.
It also doesn't help the newcomer's cause that the striker that he chose to lead the line in nine of Spurs' 11 Premier League games this season, Emmanuel Adebayor, admitted publicly after the Stoke clash that there is still difficulty interpreting his tactics.
As well as unhelpfully claiming that "nobody wanted the ball", Adebayor noted that: "Tactically, he is working hard, he is trying to make us understand what the opponents will try to do and what we have to do to score goals and win the games, but at the moment there is a blockage somewhere. Hopefully we can overcome that."
To end on a positive, the good news is that - Chelsea and Man City aside - none of the teams that Tottenham were expected to compete with for a sixth successive top-six finish have performed to their potential either.
They are level on points with Liverpool and Everton, two points behind Man United and a mere three shy of Arsenal, indicating that it is a more feasible target than odds of 2.915/8 might suggest.