After last Sunday’s defeat at Anfield was followed by a comprehensive mid-week defeat to Inter Milan in the Europa League, Andre Villas-Boas must be worried about another late season collapse from his Spurs side.
Tottenham have a history of collapsing towards the latter stages of the season in recent years, and AVB must learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, Harry Redknapp, to avoid the same fate befalling his team.
Spurs had looked good to finish in the top three on the Premier league table last season before a run of just one win in nine matches towards the end of the season condemned them to fourth position behind north London rivals, Arsenal.
That lost battle ultimately cost them a place in this season’s Champions league as Chelsea’s historic night in Munich meant all their hard work for a top four finish could only earn them a place in the Europa League.
In 2010/11, a sequence of one win in 10 league games also saw Spurs miss out, denying them an immediate return to the competition having reached the quarter-finals the season before.
Villas-Boas’ appointment as manager of the team in the summer has seen Tottenham play some of the best football we have seen in the Premier league this season and their fine form has seen them climb into the top three in the league as well as qualifying for the Europa league quarter-finals.
AVB and his Spurs players have consistently spoken of their fear of another late season slump, promising to avoid being complacent in their matches. But there could be no other reason for Spurs embarrassing 4-1 defeat in Italy to a team they had beaten 3-0 a week before at White Hart Lane than complacency.
AVB and his team had considered the tie a dead-rubber after they had put Inter to the sword in a fine performance in London, but they were taught a lesson they would not forget in a hurry at the San Siro. In Europe, a tie is not over based on one leg.
Had Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor not scored in extra time to give Spurs the all-important away goal they needed, AVB would have experienced one of the most-embarrassing competition exits in recent history.
After last Sunday’s late collapse at Anfield, where Tottenham ended with no point after it had seemed they were taking the three points back home following Jan Vertonghen’s brilliant brace, Villas-Boas had said the defeat was a "wake-up call" for Spurs, but on Thursday’s Europa league evidence, it seems Spurs are still asleep.
With Tottenham still to play Manchester City and Everton at home, and tough trips to Stamford Bridge and the Liberty Stadium still awaiting them, AVB must ensure his side wake up from their slumber quickly, starting with today's tricky home tie against Fulham, or risk complacency ruining his team's Champions League dreams yet again.
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