Another year and another end-of-season loss of form has cost Tottenham dearly.
Their aim was to finish in the top four and secure Champions League football: a mission they have failed.
So, we take a closer look at the highs and the lows of Tottenham’s season and see where they need to improve to have an even greater chance of reaching the top four next season.
The summer of 2012 was a massive period in Tottenham’s recent history: their manager, Harry Redknapp, was sacked, club legend Ledley King was forced to retire and their two most creative players in Luka Modric and Rafael van deer Vaart departed the club.
But they have made some smart transfers: Hugo Lloris looks like a fantastic signing and Jan Vertonghen, who was named in the PFA Team of the Year, looks every bit capable of replacing King.
Mousa Dembele has slotted into the Spurs midfield with ease, but needs to improve in front of goal. Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored some vital equalisers against Chelsea and Everton but has largely been played out wide and out of position. Clint Dempsey has taken four points of Manchester United but has been largely underwhelming.
He impressed so much at Fulham because he was the main man - everything went through him - but at Tottenham, he has had to become more of a team player. What about Emmanuel Adebayor? He has been a massive disappointment scoring just five league goals.
Tottenham were hit by a bad early start despite what looked to be a rather simple fixture list. They lost the game late against Newcastle United on the opening weekend and suffered late equalisers at home against both West Brom and Norwich City. There were four big points Tottenham blew which would have pushed them above Arsenal and into the Champions League.
Their first league win was in the fourth game against Reading, which they won 3-1. Late goals have crippled Tottenham this season; they conceded late against Manchester City and lost the game 2-1 and blew it dramatically against Everton losing by the same scoring despite leading 1-0 in the 89th minute.
Spurs did go on a 12-game unbeaten run stretching from December to March. This was the period in the season where Tottenham looked as though were ready to establish themselves as a top-four side. This run included victories over Arsenal, Swansea and West Ham and a draw against Manchester United.
I believe that one of the most vital moments in Tottenham’s season was their game at Loftus Road, not for the 0-0 score line, but because they lost midfielder Sandro for the rest of the season to a knee injury.
The Brazilian formed a strong partnership with Dembele in the heart of Tottenham’s midfield. Scott Parker has replaced Sandro and despite a fantastic debut year, has looked every bit his age this season. Even though his relentless work-rate is much admired by the fans, he doesn’t pass the ball forward enough and tends to slow Spurs down when they look to counter-attack quickly.
To accommodate Sandro’s injury, Tottenham brought forward the deal to sign Lewis Holtby. The Germany international has looked quite strong during his opening campaign, but hasn’t had a long run in the team. A full pre-season with his new team-mates will benefit him greatly; he will further understand their game and they will understand his. If he was to start the first five or six games of the next campaign, he would improve greatly.
Despite signing Holtby, what Tottenham really needed was another striker. Reports claim that they failed with a last ditch attempt to prize Leandro Damiao away from Internacional but the move should have come weeks earlier.
Even though the fans love the drama of transfer deadline day, I’m sure they would have rather had Damiao to help them defeat QPR and Manchester United. Jermain Defoe is lethal, but temperamental. He will score six in five, but then go five without scoring. When Defoe was injured or out of form, Adebayor has not delivered. Tottenham’s failure to sign a big-name striker cost them dearly as Arsenal beat them to fourth place by just one point.
Even though they didn’t sign a striker, they gained a centre-forward. The introduction of Gareth Bale playing in the number 10 role has been a huge addition to Tottenham’s repertoire. The manager must also receive great credit because he was the one who encouraged Bale to play behind the striker.
Villas-Boas’ faith was rewarded as Bale hit nine goals in seven games, including a devastating individual display against Newcastle, a thunderbolt at West Brom, the incredible last-minute winner against West Ham and a goal in the north London derby. Tottenham haven’t lost once in 2013 when Bale has scored.
One thing Tottenham fans always feared was the usual end-of-season meltdown; last season they won just four of their last 13 games. This season wasn’t quite as bad, but Spurs have blown it against teams lower than them.
The 1-0 home defeat to Fulham was crippling and the last gasp 2-2 draw at Wigan was another game they should have won. The game at Stamford Bridge on May 8 would have left Spurs needing to win their last two games to secure Champions League football, but another 2-2 draw left it all in Arsenal’s hands.
This year was always going to be a tough one for Spurs following the major reshuffle of players and staff in the summer. Despite finishing one place lower than last season, Tottenham actually finished with a club record 72 points, a total that normally would ensure Champions League football.
It is my opinion that Villas-Boas has had a strong season, but not spectacular. The fact that with a new team Tottenham only finished one point below Arsenal is actually quite encouraging, a full pre-season together and another one or two players will improve the Lilywhite’s chemistry.
A goalscorer and a new left-back are in dire need; Gonzalo Higuain and Leighton Baines could be two major targets for Spurs that would greatly improve their team, but Champions League football will give Arsenal and Chelsea the advantage in the transfer market. Another striker or two would add real fire power to what has been a lacklustre and often unimaginative attacking outlet.
If they avoid the late goals going against them, avoid losing 5-2 at Arsenal again and, most importantly, believe they can win big games, then I think Tottenham will be in the top four once more next season.
What do Spurs fans make of their season? Where do other football fans think they will finish next term? Let us know in the comments below.
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