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 Erik Lamela endured a difficult start to life in the Premier League, but he has become a talismanic figure in Tottenhams transfo

Erik Lamela endured a difficult start to life in the Premier League, but he has become a talismanic figure in Tottenhams transformation under Mauricio Pochettino. Nike Air Max 1 Mens Trainers . After his starring role in Sundays 3-0 win over Manchester United, we examine his improvement… It was in the middle of September that Mauricio Pochettino laid down the gauntlet to Erik Lamela. The club-record £25m signing had struggled to live up to his billing in his first two years in the Premier League, and time was running out for him to prove himself in north London.I think this is a key season for him, said Pochettino. After two seasons at Tottenham, now is the moment for him. Not to put pressure, but its true. Its a key moment for him to develop and to move on his game. Its important. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hailed a perfect performance by his players in their 3-0 win against Manchester United Two days later Lamela scored only his seventh goal in 68 appearances for Spurs in a Europa League tie with Qarabag, and hasnt looked back since. A player who once drifted absently through games has become a snarling embodiment of Tottenhams fighting spirit under Pochettino - and his talent is shining through, too. Lamelas goal record Erik Lamela has scored 10 goals in all competitions this season - twice as many as in the whole of the 2014/15 campaign. His blend of tough-tackling and technical quality has made him a crucial figure for Spurs, and those attributes were more apparent than ever in his man-of-the-match display against Manchester United on Super Sunday. The Lamela of old might have hidden away after his glaring miss from Christian Eriksens cross in the first half, but instead he came back stronger. Erik Lamela celebrates after scoring Tottenhams third goal In the frantic six-minute spell in which Tottenham destroyed United in the second half, Lamela was a key figure in every goal. For the opener, his persistence won possession to launch the move that ended with Dele Alli converting Eriksens smart delivery. And after producing the free kick for Toby Alderweirelds headed second, his crisp finish from Danny Roses cross made it three.Lamelas all-action approach typified Tottenhams breathless intensity, and he set up further scoring chances for Harry Kane and Kyle Walker as the hosts continued to pour forward in the closing stages. His impact has not been lost on Spurs supporters, and when he was replaced by Nacer Chadli in the 87th minute, the standing ovation that followed was no surprise.The statistics highlighted his outstanding all-round contribution. Lamela made more tackles (nine) and won more duels (12) than anyone else at White Hart Lane, and he ranked top for shots on goal with three. At the time of his withdrawal, the Argentine had also ran further (11.29km) and made more sprints (64) than any other player. Tottenham kept their faint hopes of winning the league alive after they hammered Manchester United 3-0 at White Hart Lane The numbers will make pleasing reading for Pochettino when he reflects on the game at Tottenhams Enfield training ground this week, and the head coach deserves immense credit for overseeing such a dramatic improvement from his countryman. Breaking the hoodoo This was Tottenhams first win over Manchester United at White Hart Lane since May 2001, ending a run of 14 home games without a win against the Red Devils. Hes been very patient with him and obviously the Argentinian link has helped Erik, former Tottenham captain Ledley King told Sky Sports. Weve seen a big improvement from him this season, and its not just his goals, its his assists and work-rate. He looks stronger, and the managers got a big part to play in that.Lamela was not the first player to struggle with the adaption from Serie A to Premier League when he arrived from Roma in 2013, but after minimal improvement in his first two seasons, it must have been tempting for both parties to cut their losses. For Pochettino and Lamela, however, persistence has paid off. Poch praises perfect Spurs Mauricio Pochettino praised Tottenhams perfect performance at White Hart Lane. Hes got the pace of the Premier League now, added King. When he first came he probably thought hed get more time on the ball but he quickly had to realise that you dont get it in the Premier League. His game has quickened up and hes got stronger as a player. Weve seen a big improvement from him this season, and its not just his goals, its his assists and work-rate. He looks stronger, and the managers got a big part to play in that. Ledley King on Erik Lamela King was not alone in praising Tottenhams No 11, with Graeme Souness highlighting his role in the first goal as evidence of his improvement. Hes a tough-tackling wide player now, he said. You see it for the first goal. Its a never-say-die attitude. Hes on the ground still trying to win the ball back for his team.That never-say-die attitude might not be enough to overhaul Leicester in the final five games of the Premier League season, but for transformed Tottenham and the talismanic Lamela, the future looks very bright. Also See: Poch praises perfect Spurs Spurs keep title chase alive Nike Air Max 1 Trainers Rose . Signs of a turnaround have emerged in this series at Minnesota. Brian Roberts had three doubles and a triple for the first four-extra-base-hit game of his 14-year career, and the Yankees used their bullpen to preserve a 6-5 win over the Twins on Friday. Nike Air Max 1 Trainers Blue . -- Theres been so much talk about Mike Moustakas at the plate that the third baseman ignored the conversation Wednesday -- even after doing something positive. . JOHNS, N.NEW YORK -- Years before Michael Sam was born, gay-rights activists Kate Kendell and Paul Guequierre were already die-hard National Football League fans. Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, grew up in Ogden, Utah, far from any NFL city, and became a fan of the Los Angeles Rams because shes an Aries and liked their uniforms. For Guequierre, raised in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and now a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, it was a family affair. Treasured season tickets for the Green Bay Packers were acquired by his grandfather, passed on to his father, and now are his. The cover photo of his Facebook page shows the towering statue of a Packers wide receiver. For Kendell, Guequierre and other gay fans of the NFL, their passion for pro football was rewarded May 10 with a moment they describe as thrilling: the decision by the Rams -- now of St. Louis -- to make Sam the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. "I feel like my support for the NFL now doesnt have an asterisk come with it," Kendell said. "Its now truly Americas game." The milestone has made gay fans more enthusiastic and already is drawing newcomers into the fold. Many may become Rams fans or -- like Guequierre -- henceforth consider St. Louis "my second favourite team." The NFL says it hasnt done any marketing research to gauge the size of its gay and lesbian fan base. Gay sports fans surveyed by Outsports said pro football was their favourite sport by far. Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler said that Sam -- if he makes the Rams roster -- will further boost the NFLs popularity among gays. "People who have never liked football are buying Michael Sam jerseys," he said. "People who have never watched a game watched the draft." As of midweek, Sams Rams jersey was the No. 2 seller among rookies at, trailing only Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Sam -- although drafted 249th out of 256 players -- also was among just 10 draftees selected by the league to be featured on special bronze and silver commemorative coins, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. Howard Bragman, a public relations expert who has been working with Sam, expects the NFL and advertisers to capitalize on fans excitement over Sams debut. "The first time he plays, youre going to have huge numbers watching," said Bragman, the vice chairman of "The NFL is a business," Bragman added. "It understands very well that LGBT fans are passionate, they have good incomes, theyre concentrated in NFL cities." Sam already has done a nationally televised ad for Visa. "The tide has turned," Bragman said. "Martina Navratillova said she lost endorsements after she came out. Nike Air Max 1 Trainers Gold. Youll find that Michael will do very well." That doesnt mean the NFLs advertisers will shift their focus away from heterosexual young males, nor are sexy female cheerleader squads likely to disappear. But gay fans may be all the more at peace with such things. "We know who theyre marketing to with those ads," said Guequierre. "Most (gay) people I know are OK with that. We dont feel like were being left out." Now based in Washington, D.C., Guequierre, 36, tries to attend at least one Packers home game per year, and makes his tickets for the other games available to relatives and friends, including a lesbian couple who are devoted fans. Guequierre said gay fans, like gay athletes, increasingly feel less pressure to conceal their sexual orientation while at games. He recalled an incident at a Packers game a few years ago, when he stood up and vocally scolded a fan behind him who had called a Chicago Bears player a homophobic slur. "No one else gave me a hard time," Guequierre said. "The guy looked embarrassed. ... He came across as the bad guy." Guequierres passion for football extends to the playing field -- hes an avid competitor in the D.C. Gay Flag Football League, which has 20 teams and about 275 players. One of the main sponsors is Nellies Sports Bar, one of a wave of gay sports bars that have opened up in cities nationwide. Doug Schantz, co-owner of Nellies, says there are now 25 TVs in the bar, all tuned to sports, with pro baseball and the NFL neck-and-neck as the most popular. "With the Redskins, it doesnt matter if theyre bad or good," Schantz said. On the other side of the country, Kate Kendell has settled into San Francisco, and is a zealous 49ers fan -- though her girlhood love of the Rams is now rekindled. She has raised her 17-year-old son to share her football passions. "On Monday nights, we break with tradition of sitting around the table as family," Kendell said. "We all watch the game. I leave office early to make sure were there for kickoff." Kendell expressed delight that gay youths would now be able to grow up with openly gay sports stars as role models. "Many of my gay male friends are not sports fans -- not because of lack of interest, but because their earliest introduction to sports made them feel stigmatized and shamed," she said, evoking epithets such as "You throw like a girl." "While surely there will continue to be homophobic remarks, there is a sense of a corner being turned," she said. "What I feel more than anything is a sense of elation and joy, that the game I loved since I was a kid I can now embrace without reservations." 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