Tottenham lacking leadership, claims Melchiot

September 19, 2008

Wigan Athletic captain Mario Melchiot believes Tottenham Hotspur's poor start is down to a lack of on-field leadership for their foreign legion.

Melchiot will lead out the Latics at White Hart Lane on Sunday, when the home side will be looking for their first Premier League win of the season.

Spurs have made their worst league start in 34 years, taking just one point from their opening four games despite coach Juande Ramos having splashed out over £60million this summer.

Although David Bentley and Vedran Corluka have Premier League experience, Ramos has signed Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko from their domestic leagues.

And Ramos has also allowed 10 first-team squad members to move on, including star strike pair Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.

"They have a lot of new faces, and some people might say it has been done too quickly," said Melchiot.

"As an outsider looking at the team, they have a lot of quality and they are just waiting for it to gel.

"They have lost a lot of Premier League experience, players who know the league well, and they have brought in players who have to get used to this league.

"When you are in a team and everything is new - the league, the language, all the foreigners around each other - they are all looking at each other and it can be difficult.

"I experienced it when I arrived in England, and now they (Tottenham) are going through the same thing."

Melchiot first moved to the Premier League with Chelsea in 1999 before Wigan boss Steve Bruce took him to Birmingham in 2004.

The Dutch defender was reunited with former Blues team-mate Emile Heskey at Wigan, and Bruce has brought in four more of his St Andrews signings since taking charge of the Latics last November.

Melchiot feels that has helped establish an effective team unit at the JJB Stadium, where Wigan are aiming to build on last season's 14th-placed finish.

"It's a different situation at this club," he added.

"Last year the gaffer didn't have the time to make his mark, but over the summer he has been able to focus on it.

"You also have a lot of players here who have known each other for a long time, like myself and Emile - captain and vice-captain - who have played with each other before.

"That helps because whenever the heat is on, we are the two guys the gaffer will look at, guys who can put things right.

"Although we're a stronger squad, we're also a better team, the quality has improved.

"People say we're not glamorous, but you don't have to be glamorous to be better.

"Against Sunderland when we went 1-0 down, we knew we could score a goal, whereas last season we didn't always have that feeling."

Amr Zaki's late equaliser gave the Latics a 1-1 draw against Sunderland last week and took the Egypt striker's goal tally to five in five games since arriving on a year-long loan deal.

Melchiot reckons the Wigan set-up has played a large part in Zaki settling in and fulfilling his potential so quickly.

"The guy is just a goalscorer," he said.

"He has come here and from day one he has shown us what he wants, and that's to score goals.

"If somebody hits the ground running that's also due to the people around them.

"They make that person more comfortable than perhaps he thought he would be because of the language problems. We've helped him settle, and that's made it easier for him."