Japhet Tanganga is Earning Tottenham’s Trust

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Tottenham Hotspur has seen plenty of shifting in its backline during the offseason, but it didn’t stop the London-based club from delivering a pair of season-opening wins in the English Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad followed up last weekend’s 1-0 victory over defending champions Manchester City by posting another 1-0 clean sheet win on Sunday at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Among the impressive performers was right back Japhet Tanganga who continued to shine in a new starting role for the club. 

Tanganga posted a Man of the Match worthy outing against Man City, limiting both Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish in the shocking victory for Spurs. Despite Harry Kane not being in the squad for Spurs, Tanganga helped Tottenham frustrate the defending champions in his 83 minutes on the pitch. 

He followed that up with a 90-minute outing at Wolves, and although was put under pressure by the talented Adama Traore, did well to help Spurs post another clean sheet in league play. 

“All the team did very well but Japhet was huge today,” Santo said about Tanganga following the Man City victory. “He faced too many one-v-ones today against fantastic players and he dealt fantastic with the situation.”

“When they [Tanganga and Oliver Skipp'] started the season, they were in the process of recovering from injury, but they had a good foundation in terms of fitness and physicality,” Santo said about Tanganga and midfielder Skipp, who both started on Sunday. “With the work they did with sports science, I think they were able to keep on growing and we can see they are fit and stronger and faster.”

The 22-year-old has had to watch and wait for his opportunities in London, staying with the first team since his debut in 2019. Tottenham could’ve easily loaned Tanganga out over the past two seasons, but instead kept him with the first team to prepare him for opportunities ahead. 

Tanganga has gotten the nod over the more-experienced Matt Doherty and looked like a seasoned veteran in both matches. He’s completed 80% of his passes through the first two matches and has done well to make the simple plays rather than take risks in his own defensive half.

After previously working with Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino, Tanganga now has a new relationship with Santo, a manager who has given opportunities to young players in the past with Wolves. Now it’s up to the London native to take advantage of the opportunity as Spurs look to fight in both domestic and European competitions. 

“As a kid, you dream about these things,” said Tanganga following the Man City win. “For it to happen to me was an amazing feeling. Honestly, walking around, I had chills. I had to contain myself coming around to the bench. It was an amazing feeling and I really appreciate it.

“It wasn’t just me, it was everyone, we all put a shift in,” Tanganga said. “We’ve worked hard on it, we all put a shift in during pre-season on the fitness side of the game. It was great to have the fans back as well, urging us on. 

“We definitely felt their presence in the stadium, so it was a great feeling for everyone. I’m just glad they recognized the work we’ve put in and we gave them a win.”

Tottenham will need more impressive showings from Tanganga going forward if it wants to fight for the top-four and a deep run in the inaugural UEFA Conference League competition. 

It was two hard-earned results for the club to start their domestic season and now the goal will be to keep pushing forward through the early stages of the league campaign.  

If Tanganga can help keep attacking players like Sterling, Grealish, and Traore off the scoreboard, then the sky's the limit for the English international going forward this season.

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