Minicab drivers in London will only be able to gain required qualifications at official centres after a cheating scandal was exposed by the BBC.
Drivers could previously sit mandatory exams at Transport for London (TfL) centres or authorised private schools and colleges to get a licence.
TfL said all licences gained from colleges where cheating occurred had been revoked.
As part of the cab application process, drivers must sit a topographical exam and an English test at one of eight official TfL testing centres.
Evidence of these exams can also be accepted via other qualifications including BTecs, which are usually taken at numerous private colleges and centres around the UK.
Some employees at one of these colleges – Vista Training Solutions in Newham, east London – offered to take the tests for several BBC researchers for £500 per BTec.
After the cheating was exposed, TfL carried out an “urgent review” of every licence gained through qualifications passed at private colleges.
It has now revoked those of 143 drivers who had gained them through Vista Training Solutions while another 209 licence applications made by people who passed their qualifications through the college have also been rejected.
The transport authority added that no evidence of “fraudulent activity” had been found at any other private colleges but from February, qualifications will only be allowed to be gained from one of TfL’s eight testing centres.
“The most robust and relevant topographical tests are our own assessments,” said Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging.
In a statement Ofqual, which regulates tests taken at private colleges, said it took “all allegations of qualifications fraud extremely seriously”.
Vista Training Solutions previously said it was “devastated to learn that such malpractice took place” and apologised “unreservedly”.
Arsenal have identified Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as a potential replacement for Unai Emery if the Gunners decide to sack the Spaniard.
Head coach Emery is under pressure after a winless run of six matches across all competitions.
Arsenal have only won four of 13 Premier League games this season.
BBC Sport understands that if Emery is sacked and Nuno is allowed to speak to Arsenal, then the Portuguese would be a strong contender to take over.
Nuno said it would be “disrespectful” to talk about being linked with Arsenal when asked in a news conference before his side’s Europa League tie against Braga on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t ever mention an issue which is not a reality,” he said. “Speaking about a job which has a manager would be disrespectful and I will not do so.”
Emery said he still has the full support of the club, having been warned results must improve while being offered public backing by the Arsenal hierarchy earlier this month.
“Really the club is supporting me,” he said. “I feel the club, everyone responsible in that area, is backing me. Really I appreciate it a lot.
“I feel strong with that support and know my responsibility to come back and change that situation.”
The former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain boss added he is only focused on “today and tomorrow” as he prepares for his side’s Europa League match at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
“My job is to prepare for the match, to show the best performance in front of our supporters,” he said.
Arsenal go into Thursday’s game top of Group F, four points clear of both their German opponents and Standard Liege.
On Sunday, a number of Arsenal fan groups called for “urgent action” over the “state of things” at the club.
“My focus is only today and tomorrow, to do all the things that we have worked on here at the training ground,” Emery added.
“We know our supporters were disappointed by the draw against Southampton, but we have the perfect chance to reconnect with our supporters.
“Our wish is that every supporter tomorrow helps the team, we need them.”
Arsenal are also eight points adrift of the top four and 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Young people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME) have described how they feel the 2019 general election has failed so far to take on their views or represent them.
Students at London’s Westminster Kingsway College talked about the issues they care about and the changes they would like to see in politics.
Video by Jamie Moreland
London blogger The Gentle Author has been photographing the changing face of London, focusing on what is known as “facadism”, the practice of destroying everything apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it.
Here, we present a few pictures from the series and the story of the buildings that once stood.
National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2
This Grade I listed building was designed by John Gibson as London’s largest banking hall, in 1863-65, with figures along the roofline representing locations where the bank did business including:
Above the arched windows, eight sculpted panels of heroic allegorical scenes represent the achievements of mankind:
- the arts
The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1
Thomas Lloyd is recorded as this pub’s first landlord, in 1805.
After it closed for good, in 1908, the building was incorporated into the Providence Row Night Refuge and, in 2006, converted into student housing for the London School of Economics.
London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1
This building was designed by Sydney Perks, in 1927, as a state-of-the-art auction room with a roof that simulated sunlight on cloudy days, parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout.
Since the fruit and vegetable market left Spitalfields, in 1991, it has housed many small independent local businesses.
The tenant of the new development is an international legal corporation.
465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7
Mallett, Porter & Dowd built this handsome warehouse for their business, in 1874.
Redevelopment by University College London for student housing was turned down by Islington Council, citing inadequate daylight, due to the windows of the new building not aligning with those in the facade.
But this judgement was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
And the development won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup for 2013.
College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1
Designed by Elijah Hoole, this part of the Toynbee Hall campus, built in 1884-85, was demolished and facaded for the construction of Attlee House, which was completed in 1971 but itself demolished in 2016.
It will next front Gatsby Apartments, a development of flats for the commercial market.
Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1
Designed in 1821 by Charles Parker, the architect of Hoare’s Bank, in the Strand, this chapel was demolished in the 1960s apart from the portico and part of the ground floor, which stood in front of a car park for many years.
The Grade II listed Doric hexastyle portico is topped by a triglyph frieze and a pediment.
Its central door has a shouldered architrave and iron gates.
The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10
The Spotted Dog was described as “a well accustomed public house” in 1792, by which time it was at least 30 years old.
In the 19th Century, it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s housed a dancehall.
18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1
Decorative brick inlay on the Berwick Street elevation declares this facade was built in 1886.
Originally a bakery, it became Central Chemists in 1950 when the ground floor and basement premises were acquired by Gertrude Kramer.
Michael Moss acquired the pharmacy and freehold to the building from Mrs Kramer in the 1970s and enlarged it to include 85-86 Berwick Street in the late 1980s, naming it Broadwick Pharmacy.
Richard Piercy bought the shop in 1990 and ran it as Zest Pharmacy until 2016.
In recent memory, the upper parts of the building were used as offices by music, film and voice-over businesses.
All photographs © The Gentle Author from the book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism.
Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital have found a way to make ventilators more precise for individual intensive care patients.
The trial involves a monitor next to a patient’s bed that will collect data showing their breathing patterns and lung capacity.
Doctors and nurses will use the data to better understand how to treat a patient and individually tailor their ventilator oxygen levels and pressure.
If successful, it could prove to be the future of critical care medicine, according to the research team.
Video by Gem O’Reilly.
The sound of someone tinkling the ivories has become commonplace at UK railway stations. But who plays them, what is their appeal and how did the trend take hold?
Every Monday and Friday, Denis Robinson, 92, makes the 30-minute trip from his home in Sutton, south London, to St Pancras International station, in the heart of the capital.
His final destination: an upright piano tucked beneath a staircase on the station concourse, opposite the arrivals door where holidaymakers from across the world depart the high-speed Eurostar train.
Denis is one of Britain’s amateur train station pianists. A minor celebrity, following a viral performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with West End singer Ceili O’Connor in April, he has been delighting commuters with his own arrangements of nostalgic hits for seven years.
He aims to arrive at the piano stool either side of lunch. Breaking with tradition to meet BBC News mid-week, he takes his pew by 11:30am on a Wednesday.
Within moments of his opening chord, passing travellers pause to listen, smile and offer him praise.
“It’s an absolute joy,” says the retired auditor, who has been playing since he was a child. “I nearly always come home with a memory to tell my wife.
“I’m lucky because I’ve got an ever-changing appreciative audience.”
Denis suffered a stroke at the station in August, which affected his left hand, but it wasn’t long until he returned to the instrument in autumn for a rendition of As Long as He Needs Me, sung softly to himself.
“When I walked round to the piano again, there was just this feeling of ‘I’m back’,” he says.
There are two pianos at St Pancras, located at either end of the station’s main arcade of shops. Denis credits his wife of 34 years, Diane, for introducing him to the one he plays.
She was studying Greek at the nearby British Library when it was donated to St Pancras in 2012, following a three-week art project that placed so-called street pianos at public locations around London.
While Sheffield is often cited as the home of the first street piano, the idea for the St Pancras pianos was the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram, whose Play Me, I’m Yours project has been touring cities around the world since 2008.
The scheme sees second-hand pianos installed in public locations, with an open invitation to play. Each piano is unique, often decorated by local artists or community groups.
“I realised within a city, there must be hundreds of invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence,” Luke explains.
“Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation.”
Several other pianos that were placed in London train stations in 2012 also ended up staying put after Luke’s project ended, including two at Canary Wharf and one at Herne Hill railway station.
And it’s not just talented amateurs that have taken to the keys. Global stars such as Sara Bareilles and Sir Elton John, who donated a Yamaha piano to St Pancras in 2016, have also given public performances.
Elton’s signed piano, still at the station, reads: “Enjoy this piano. It’s a gift. Love, Elton John.”
Inspired by the success of the St Pancras pianos, other groups have gone on to install their own at railway stations around the country.
There are now at least 34 pianos available to play on station concourses.
Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle lobbied for a piano at Brighton station in 2014 in the hope that it would “reduce the misery” of time spent at the terminal.
Ten months later, with the go ahead from Southern Rail, the station’s first piano arrived from local dealer Brighton Piano Warehouse, painted in circus-style red and yellow with “Please Play Me” emblazoned above the lid.
While the instrument has been replaced twice due to wear and tear, a piano has been at the station ever since.
Brighton and Hove Council street cleaner Mikah Laiberg, 28, has made a regular appearance at the instrument from the outset – at one point rehearsing on it every day after work.
“It’s a compulsion,” he says. “I can’t understand how people who can play an instrument can walk past without playing it.”
Clips shared online show Mikah, in his employee high-vis jacket and boots, stunning passers-by with his classical improvisations influenced by composers such as Alexei Stanchinsky.
Such videos, of everyday people showcasing their talent, have arguably played a key role in the success of public pianos.
Street pianos emerged around the same time as the smartphone – the first iPhone was released in 2007 – making performances increasingly easy to document and share.
Now, videos of pianos being played prove particularly popular on YouTube.
In August, Alicia Palmer, 16, wowed the internet with her rendition of Adelweiss at Tottenham Court Road’s piano alongside public piano player Brendan Kavanagh – gaining more than 750,000 views on the site.
‘Life and colour’
Selhurst is one of several small stations in London with a public piano.
Hannah Sayers, 34, and her local community group arranged for a piano to be placed there in 2018.
Donated by Hannah’s neighbour and painted by a local resident, they hoped it would “help people feel positive about where they live”.
“We wanted to bring life and colour to our little ward in Croydon,” Hannah says.
Selhurst’s piano is conveniently located near to the BRIT school, for performing arts students to play, and has a large passing traffic of commuters and Crystal Palace football fans.
“The one thing we were really worried about was that it would get damaged or vandalised,” adds Hannah, “But it hasn’t been so far.”
Neighbouring Thornton Heath station recently installed its second piano after a water leak damaged its original instrument.
Local resident Linda Watson calls it a “community asset”. She adds: “Thornton Heath has many brilliant musicians. To have live music when you are travelling is a delightful surprise.”
Meanwhile for Malcolm Ingram, of Ingram’s Removals, placing a piano in Darlington Bank Top station was a way to save an unwanted instrument.
Pianos, once the entertainment hub of the family home, have long been in decline.
Some 5,000 are sold annually, the Financial Times reports, compared with 30,000 in the 1980s. Malcolm says customers are frequently looking to get rid of their old pianos.
In 2018, he had a brainwave and arranged for a client’s Hemingway piano to be relocated to the station concourse, where it is now loved by staff and passengers.
“A piano brightens up peoples’ day – if someone has the gift to play it, it provides that feel-good factor,” he says.
“The piano was just going to have to go to landfill otherwise, which seems criminal.”
Speaking at the end of his performance in St Pancras, Denis says his repertoire of old-time classics are a constant hit with audiences.
“The songs bring back memories for some people, so they come over and say thank you,” he says.
“The music I play, it’s simple really. It’s a blessing to see that I can provide happiness.”
Photography by Phil Coomes, Dave Charnley and Julia Horbaschk
Residents on two housing estates where blocks of flats burned down have been left at risk because of fire stopping measures in buildings being “missing or useless”, the BBC has been told.
A block built in Worcester Park in south-west London by the Berkley Group burned down in September.
The BBC has found apparent flaws in two more Berkley Group buildings it is said would allow fire to spread quickly.
The developer said all properties had been “independently signed off”.
Since September’s blaze, the housing association for The Hamptons estate has temporarily changed its “stay put” evacuation policy following advice from London Fire Brigade.
Former resident Stephen Nobrega told the BBC the way the fire spread “was more or less instant. It was like paper”.
Wood is combustible and so fire stopping in timber frame homes is important to prevent the spread of fire.
“You would expect that the materials would contain a fire for a considerable amount of time, but it just didn’t happen,” Mr Nobrega said.
Although there were no injuries, some residents believed they just about escaped in time.
‘Shoddily thrown together’
A number of families lost their homes in the fire while others on the estate said they were concerned their own homes were not safe.
The development has since been on high alert, with security guards patrolling 24 hours-a-day on the lookout for fire.
Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), the housing association that now manages properties in the Hamptons, said it had “fitted smoke alarms in the electrical cupboards of all our blocks”.
“We are worried about how our homes are built and if they could go up, we want to be evacuated,” a resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.
A large fire would be able to spread quickly at another building on The Hamptons site, two independent surveyors have claimed.
Independent chartered surveyor and fire safety inspector, Arnold Tarling, found a large gap between the fire stopping and the cladding on the outside of a building in the estate, which he said would act as a “chimney through which a fire will spread”.
“What we have here is a form of fire stopping which just won’t do its job,” he said.
Greig Adams, a fire safety expert, told the BBC these breaches had “consequences, including a considerable increased risk to life in the event of a fire”.
“The provision of effective fire barriers is a mandatory requirement, not an element that can be shoddily thrown together or to cut corners on,” Mr Adams said.
A former home owner at the Worcester Park estate has told the BBC she contacted the Berkeley Group nine years ago over safety concerns.
Sheila Majid said she had an independent inspection of her property in 2010 that revealed similar problems with fire stopping and meant “our home did not meet basic fire safety requirements”.
She managed to sell her property back to the Berkeley Group, but remained concerned other Berkeley properties had similar problems.
Two years ago a fire at another Berkeley Group-built property on the Holborough Lakes Estate in Kent destroyed a block of flats.
Mr Tarling inspected a loft space at a property in the estate and found similar fire safety problems to those at the Worcester Park estate.
“There needs to be a full investigation of these properties, not only by the contractor but by the authorities,” he said.
A spokesman for the Berkley Group said “all properties were independently signed off as building control compliant”.
Speaking about the Hamptons fire he said “the police and the fire brigade are still investigating the cause of the fire, which remains unknown” and the group was “making all necessary checks to reassure residents”.
A National House Building Council spokesperson said it was the approved inspector for the Worcester Park development and the organisation had “carried out periodic inspections at key stages of a development’s construction”.
However, they added that “the primary responsibility for achieving compliance with the regulations rests with the builder”.
Housing association MTVH said it had since commissioned surveys of all the buildings it owned and managed.
Geeta Nanda, chief executive of MTVH, said: “It’s our absolute priority to ensure we provide residents with the support and help they need at this difficult time, and making sure that the homes throughout The Hamptons are safe.”
London-based developer Berkley Group has built 19,500 homes in the past five years across the south of England and the Midlands.
The head teacher of an unregistered school, prosecuted for operating it illegally, has said it has a “unique” approach and will remain open.
Nadia Ali, of Ambassadors High, in Streatham – which an inspection found “wilfully neglected” safeguarding – was given community service last month.
She called the pupils “happy learners” and denied it was breaking the law, as it was now open 18 hours a week only.
Ofsted has urged improved legislation to deal with unregistered schools.
By law, any institution with more than five full-time pupils has to be officially registered and inspected. Government guidance defines full-time education as more than 18 hours a week.
The south London school, which describes itself as having an Islamic ethos, says it charges £2,500 a year per pupil and had 45 children on the roll at the time of its last inspection. But it has not yet met standards required to register.
Ms Ali told the BBC’s Today and Victoria Derbyshire programmes the school had remained open as its work with the children was “quite unique”.
“I’ve been teaching for 15 years and I’ve seen how children need a different approach and that what we’re trying to do at Ambassadors,” she said.
“This is why I believe in what we’re trying to do because we’ve seen a lot of results within our children. They’re happy learners.”
Inspectors twice issued warnings they believed the school was operating illegally, before it first applied to register in 2016.
And it failed its pre-registration inspection, in February 2019, with inspectors judging it would not meet the Independent School Standards.
However, the school remained open – leading to Ms Ali’s prosecution.
The inspection found she had, “wilfully neglected to meet some basic, crucial, safeguarding responsibilities”.
Inspectors found six out of 11 teachers had not had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or criminal-record checks.
But Ms Ali said all staff working at the time of the inspection had been thoroughly checked.
“At that time, we only had four members of staff at that school,” she said.
“So, the staff who had left were still on the central record… we did try to explain it to the inspector.”
Inspectors also said ”teachers do not have the skills” to help pupils progress and concluded there was ”no capacity for improvement” at the school.
And they found there was ”no plan in place to actively promote fundamental British values”.
In 2018, inspectors found texts in the staffroom that:
- encouraged parents to hit their children if they did not pray
- said a wife had no right to deny her husband
But they found no evidence children had access to these books.
Ms Ali said the books had been donated by a mosque and had been kept locked in the office. Accepting they were unsuitable, she denied they contributed to a perception she did not want the school to be part of modern British society.
She said: “I don’t believe that just by finding some books or a paragraph from a book like that makes us go against the fundamental British values… because our children and us, we’ve grown in British society.”
It is unclear how many hours the school currently operates, although Ms Ali insisted it was not longer than 18 hours. But we saw a timetable for pupils aged 11-14 that added up to 21 hours per week. Ms Ali denied it was accurate.
The pupils used to be taught the Koran in school – but this now happens at a nearby mosque. Ms Ali said the Koran lessons were run by parents – but the school website, no longer online, asked parents to pay £80 a month for the lessons.
Parents also say they run a home-tuition club in a separate setting close to the school.
Ms Ali said she was getting her paperwork in order to apply again to register the school in a few weeks’ time.
Despite Ofsted inspecting almost 260 suspected unregistered schools since January 2016, and issuing warning notices to 71 settings, this was only the second time a case was brought for prosecution.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said there needed to be a proper legal definition of “schools” and “full-time”, as the current legislation was too vague.
“It doesn’t matter if the school is operating for seven, 10, or 17 hours… children should be registered and getting an education,” she said.
“The law didn’t expect unregistered schools to exist – it wasn’t designed to prevent these places from happening.”
Education Minister Lord Agnew said unregistered schools were “illegal, unsafe and anyone found to be running one will be prosecuted”.
“Where settings are only operating part-time, there are a range of legal powers in place to make sure children are safe in their care
“And in the vast majority of cases those settings are doing an excellent job in enriching young peoples’ lives.”
“We have provided funding to a number of councils to boost their capacity to take action on settings causing concern.”
Police investigating what they say is the UK’s biggest ever drugs conspiracy have charged 13 men.
The charges of conspiracy to import drugs follow a National Crime Agency investigation into the alleged smuggling of billions of pounds of cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
The NCA said the men were suspected of being members of an international organised crime group.
The men, aged 34 to 59, will appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court later.
It comes after they were arrested in dawn raids on Tuesday in London, Manchester, Stockport, St Helens, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds.
The NCA said seven men have now been charged with four counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and four counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs.
They are Paul Green, 54, of Eccleston, St Helens; Sohail Quereshi, 59, of Wood Crescent, White City, London; Mohammed Ovais, 41, of Bournlee Avenue, Burnage, Manchester; Ghazanfar Mahmood, 48, of Green Lane, Bolton; Ifthikar Hussain, 46, of Upland Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Vojtech Dano, 38, of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and Ivan Turtak, 34, of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
A further six men have all been charged with two counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and two counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs.
They are Khaleed Vazeer, 56, of Westwood Avenue, Timperley, Manchester; Steven Martin, 48, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton; Andrew Reilly, 37, of Grange Park Road, St Helens; Mark Peers, 55, of Norbeck Close, Warrington; Paul Ruane, 58, of Bewsey Rd, Warrington and Oliver Penter, 37, of Gladstone Street, Stockport.
Four men and two women from the Netherlands – who were arrested in April by the Dutch National Police on European Arrest Warrants – are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he needs time to overcome the “different agendas in the squad” after his side’s difficult start to the season continued with a Carabao Cup exit at League Two Colchester United.
Spurs lost 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in the third-round tie.
Pochettino has spoken of his squad being “unsettled” this season.
“We need time again to build that togetherness that you need when you are competing at this level,” he said.
Tottenham reached the Champions League final in June but the success of that run came amid a sequence of four wins in 17 games in all competitions.
They are 10 points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool after six matches this season and have won none of their five away fixtures, conceding twice in four of those games.
Uncertainty around the futures of influential players, including forward Christian Eriksen and defenders Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld left Pochettino eager for the 2 September European transfer window deadline to pass so he had certainty about his squad.
But with none of those players leaving – plus Eric Dier falling out of favour – Pochettino said a group that has been largely stable during his five years at Spurs now needs a period of certainty.
“When you have an unsettled squad always it’s difficult and you lose time, then you need time to recover the time you lose,” added the Argentine.
“That’s where we are. Maybe our performances are good but you need this extra, which is mental, connection. It’s energy to be all together, not to have different agendas in the squad.
“We are in a period where it’s a bit tough for us, but we keep working to find a solution.
“When this type of thing happens it’s about staying clear and fresh and calm. We’re trying to find solutions and we only need time.”
Tottenham’s defeat at Colchester – who are 10th in League Two, 70 places below them – means Pochettino has lost one route to a first trophy of his managerial career.
He made 10 changes, giving debuts to 17-year-old forward Troy Parrott and 20-year-old centre-back Japhet Tanganga.
But there was also plenty of experience, with Dier making his first appearance of the season, Dele Alli returning from injury and Victor Wanyama, Lucas Moura and Davinson Sanchez in the starting XI.
By full-time, Spurs had Eriksen, Son Heung-min, Erik Lamela, Moura and Alli on the pitch as they chased a place in the last 16.
But they managed only four shots on target in the game and Colchester looked just as likely to snatch victory as the match headed towards penalties.
Eriksen and Moura missed from the spot as Colchester won the shootout 4-3.
“We did nearly everything good until the last third,” said Pochettino. “Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t.
“We feel disappointed because we dominated the 90 minutes, but we were not aggressive in the last third in the way you expect.
“It’s about doing your job, and this lack of aggression in the last third made the reality.”
BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty
Pochettino regards the Carabao Cup as a clear last on his list of Tottenham’s priorities – but the loss to Colchester drives at the heart of a deeper malaise.
Pochettino and Spurs have simply not been themselves since the Champions League final defeat by Liverpool, and the manager’s cryptic reference to “different agendas in the squad” only adds to the sense of unease on and off the pitch.
It has been a bad week, with a two-goal lead conceded in the Champions League at Olympiakos, the loss at Leicester City and now this defeat on penalties by Colchester. They also lost a 2-0 lead in the north London derby at Arsenal on 1 September, ending up hanging on for a draw.
Cut it any way you like – something is not right. And Pochettino must know his words on “different agendas” will lead to open season on speculation.
Eriksen has become an increasingly divisive figure among supporters as his form dips following his failure to move in the summer. Alli’s form has also fallen off a cliff in the past year, while questions surrounded the exclusion of the influential Vertonghen in the early games this season.
Eriksen, into the final year of his contract, carries the appearance of a player counting down the days to departure, while Vertonghen and Alderweireld are others who may not be at Spurs in the long term.
These are all sub-plots to distract from the main agenda.
And what about Pochettino himself?
The Argentine has not cut a completely contented figure since the summer. This was perhaps the frustration of the Champions League final, but it may also be the lack of clout in the transfer market that has left him with a team that, for the most part, has been together for several seasons and is in urgent need of renewal and refreshment.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, announcing a refinancing of £637m of debt on the club’s new stadium last week, insisted this would not have any impact on transfer activity. These are welcome words given the increasingly pressing need for new blood.
Pochettino has also been the subject of more speculation linking him with Real Madrid, although his answer of “maybe some year” at the Best Fifa Football Awards was a fair, if non-committal, response.
A squad that looked cohesive, driven and on course for major trophies suddenly looks laboured and lacking in reserves of character – which will truly hurt Pochettino.
BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer described them as “soft” after the loss at Leicester City and the stats back up this view.
Spurs have won four of their past 17 games. They have not won on the road this season.
The defeat at Colchester, taken in isolation, will not be a cause for widespread dismay – but taken in the wider context it is a sign that Spurs and Pochettino must get their act together quickly.
‘The house that Poch built is tumbling down’ – what you said on #bbcfootball
Jason Wakeling: Poch has taken this squad as far as he can. Overachieved for too long and other clubs fading has helped elevate Spurs to a loftier position than their performances deserve. Only 34 points since the start of 2019. #pochout
Dax Fullbrook: Been a fan of Poch over the years but something isn’t right. He doesn’t seem to care any more. The squad act self-entitled – the ones that want to be there at least. They’ve lost faith in a system that was stunted by [chairman] Daniel Levy. Spurs are in need of a big change.
Brian Sands: Big question now for Pochettino – does he hang around with gutless players who do not have the wherewithal to win any trophy or does he voluntarily walk away before Levy sharpens his axe?
Timothy Poole: A blessing in disguise for Spurs?
Robert Weaver: This is what happens when you rock up with 10 changes & expect a lower league team to simply roll over. Embarrassing doesn’t begin to cover it. Congrats to Colchester, but the house that Poch built is tumbling down around his ears. What an utter shambles!
James Williams: Am I the only Spurs fan not actually too bothered? It will save us tricky away games which should boost us in the league. People saying it’s a shambles are out of their minds.
Aleksandar Todorov: Carabao Cup is realistically Tottenham’s best chance when it comes to silverware. They shouldn’t be beaten by Colchester with the team they have. In the words of Eric Dier, that was embarrassing. Pochettino with a lot to think about.