David Ginola made a big impression during his seven-year spell in England and knows first-hand what it's like to snatch defeat from the jaws of Premier League glory. Recounting his time at Newcastle, he believes that Tottenham's biggest obstacle to an unexpected title win is inexperience.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Ginola pinpointed the vulnerability of Kevin Keegan's famous 'Entertainers' side, when Manchester United overtook the Magpies to win the 1995-96 title. As Spurs sit three points behind Leicester in second place, Mauricio Pochettino's men have snuck under the radar but Ginola thinks the pressure is unavoidable.
"Maybe this season for Spurs, the little issue could be the lack of experience; the same thing that we had at Newcastle back in 1995-96," Ginola said. "We were 12 points clear of Manchester United but lost the title by three points because of that lack of experience."
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Now 49, Ginola was signed by Keegan 1995 for £2.5 million and immediately captured the imagination of Newcastle fans. He began a tradition of temperamental French wingers that has continued to exist on Tyneside.
Despite going on to win 1999's PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Football of the Year awards at Tottenham, Ginola is perhaps best remembered for his two years at Newcastle. He scored seven goals in 75 games before falling out with Kenny Dalglish - Keegan's replacement - and being sold to Spurs.
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The Entertainers were an attacking force that neutralised a poor defence with a bombastic collection of exciting flair players fronted by Les Ferdinand and Peter Beardsley. By mid-January, Newcastle formed a 12-point lead and were seemingly running away for their first Premier League trophy.
Incredibly, five defeats in eight games coincided with Eric Cantona single-handedly dragging the Red Devils to glory. 13 wins from their last 15 games completed a remarkable turnaround for Sir Alex Ferguson's men and, to many, Newcastle's memorable 4-3 loss to Liverpool was symbolic of their capitulation.
Often voted the greatest Premier League match of all time, Ginola believes the Anfield thriller had a huge mental affect on his side. "Most of the players had not been in this situation, to be able to win the league - when we lost against Liverpool it was the starting point of a reverse process.
"We started to think: 'Oh we can lose games'. And if you have got the experience then you can manage that in the dressing room, be cool - cool down a little bit. That will probably be the only thing at Spurs this season, the lack of experience.”
Head coach Pochettino has never won a trophy as a manager and only four players have a title-winning pedigree - Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid and Ajax), Jan Vertonghen (Ajax), Christian Eriksen (Ajax) and Mousa Dembele (AZ). It's a new adventure for almost all of them and there are some tough away games coming up, with trips to West Ham and Chelsea.
The fixture list has certainly thrown up some quirks to back up Ginola's comparison. On April 2, almost 20 years to the day since Newcastle's season fell apart, Spurs make the same trip to Anfield. Survive that, and the most extraordinary title race could climax with the Premier League trophy finally being lifted at St James' Park - where Tottenham play on the final day. Just like in 1996.
Is David Ginola correct about Tottenham and their lack of experience? Leave your opinion in the comment box below!
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