Three Points: Tottenham vs. QPR
LONDON -- A trio of thoughts from Tottenham's 4-0 win at home vs. Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.
1. Slick Spurs ravage Rangers
Sunday saw an unhappy return for Harry Redknapp and a painful lesson in how difficult survival in the Premier League will be for QPR. Tottenham Hotspur simply blew Rangers away in the first half and now look like quite the proposition under the new management of Mauricio Pochettino.
Not since Redknapp was in charge have Spurs played so attractively as they did in that first 45. The second half looked as if it would be used as a training exercise until Danny Rose's thrilling burst and cross set up Emmanuel Adebayor to make it 4-0. Earlier, two goals from Nacer Chadli bookended a goal from Eric Dier before the break. Tall and rangy, strong in defence and with clear attacking prowess, Dier looks like the find of the transfer window so far. Come in, Glen Johnson: Your England days are numbered.
"Harry, Harry, give us a wave," sang the Tottenham fans, and Redknapp duly obliged. Spurs were only two goals up at that point, but the afternoon already looked like a lost cause.
Rangers' best chance had been and gone by that point. Matt Phillips cut inside a dithering Younes Kaboul but missed the target and the chance to level the score 1-1. Like many in the Rangers' ranks, Phillips, a quality Championship player, looked overawed at this higher level. Not least Joey Barton, who suffered a torrid afternoon in the engine room against a midfield that he was ridiculing on Twitter in November.
The rout was full of harsh realities for Rangers, for which the defensive duo of Rio Ferdinand and Richard Dunne, combined age approaching 70, struggled badly. So too did Steven Caulker, just 22 and not enjoying his return to the club who surprisingly sold him a year ago.
Cold comfort for Redknapp may lie in the excellence of his former club, which on this evidence look as if it can mount a credible challenge for the top-four place that is its aim. Chadli's second goal came at the end of a 48-pass move. High hopes for Tottenham, then, but a long campaign ahead for Rangers.
2. Class of 2013 finally shines
Erik Lamela was the little boy lost of Tottenham's torrid 2013-14 campaign -- injured under Andre Villas-Boas and ignored by Tim Sherwood. Pochettino is persevering with his compatriot 30 million pound man and gaining thrilling results so far.
At last, Spurs fans are getting a taste of Lamela's ability to run at defenders. This is a club that appreciates such talents, even in times of inconsistency. He replicated his match-winning show against Limassol by being at the fulcrum of their attacking moves. One neat shift of feet forced Ferdinand into a clunking foul, though the veteran was also probably told to try to reduce the Argentine's effectiveness. Lamela was soon providing two assists as Spurs took the game acres beyond Rangers.
Pochettino plays Lamela centrally rather than in the wide position from where he was never going to replace Gareth Bale. Lamela's quality lies in trickery, not pace. He and Christian Eriksen in combination offer enticing prospects. The Dane, the sole summer 2013 signing to show a decent hand last season, rattled a first-half free-kick off the bar. This was what Franco Baldini hoped for when the director of football brought the pair in during last summer's spree.
Both men exhibited dead ball excellence of the type that returning hero Glenn Hoddle patented in his heyday. Lamela's corner for Dier's goal was perfect, as was his run and lofted pass for Chadli to score his second goal of the game. Chadli, who last season was perhaps the most mysterious of all the arrivals purchased with the Bale loot, has suddenly reinvented himself as a goal-scoring midfielder. In turning previous swine into pearls, Pochettino has already made a telling impact at Tottenham.
3. Monarch of the Glenn
"Born is the king of White Hart Lane," as the banners say at the eponymous stadium. Hoddle once wore such a crown, as the extravagantly gifted centrepiece of a Spurs team that won two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup in the 1980s. His second coming as manager ended abruptly and disappointingly 11 years ago -- his last time in charge of a Premier League club.
He is now in the reduced circumstances of being an assistant to Redknapp at QPR, a club decked with Spurs castoffs. Redknapp himself frequently argues that Spurs never had it so good as when he was in charge, with the bare facts of two top-four finishes to illustrate his point. Steven Caulker and Bobby Zamora suffered White Hart pain on their return, but Hoddle's re-emergence on the front lines intrigued most.
Perhaps by dint of being passed over for the job himself, Redknapp has seemingly opened a recovery home for former England managers. Steve McClaren fulfilled a similar role to Hoddle's last season before managing Derby County. Ferdinand, his current charge, has long labelled Hoddle his favourite England coach of all in a 15-year international career, and now finds himself playing in Hoddle's favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Keeping a low profile, Hoddle was not alongside Redknapp in the dugout, though, his influence was clear in Rangers' style of play, with wing-backs bombing on. Such tactics are now back in vogue after their success in the World Cup, though they were as successful here as they were during Louis van Gaal's maiden attempt to bed them in with Manchester United. It hardly helped that Ferdinand, Richard Dunne and Caulker all made mistakes that contributed to goals. Like van Gaal against Swansea, three at the back was binned for an orthodox four straight at halftime.
Hoddle's road to redemption -- he has never hidden his desire to return to the Tottenham and England jobs -- is an unlikely one at 56. For this not to be another false start, he must contribute to rescuing a Rangers campaign that already looks like an arduous struggle for him and Redknapp.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.