Football Season Review

№6: Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have little reason to be happy at the end of what was another wasted season at White Hart Lane. They were tantalisingly close to getting a Champions League slot the year before but failed to progress and build on that. The main reason for that, of course, was the loss of Gareth Bale in the summer. The Welsh winger had become such an influential figure in the team that his replacing was always going to be a huge challenge. Andre Villas-Boas was forced to build a new team around a clutch of signings, who all arrived, after the start of the season. It was still a very good start of the campaign for Spurs and the only blemish in the first seven weeks was a loss to the big rivals, Arsenal. The defensive aspect of the side was excellent with four clean sheets in the first five games. But a bruising 3:0 loss at home to West Ham at the start of October raised concerns about the ability to cope with deep defensive units. Most of the signings who came in the summer proved rather mis-judged and unsuccessful over the course of the season with the biggest of them, Erik Lamela, proving the biggest flop. The talented Argentinian just failed to settle into the new country and barely got a game as the season progressed. Yet, the position of Villas-Boas became really unstable after a dreadful display at Manchester City that resulted in a 6:0 loss. The manager survived for a couple more weeks but a similarly inept display, at home to Liverpool, that resulted in a 5:0 loss, sealed his fate in mid-December. Tim Sherwood was the rather startling choice of a successor as the club bosses placed their trust in a man with zero managerial experience. He was a far cry from the tactical sophistication and the subtlety that characterised Spurs before. He actually made a decent start and claimed five wins from his first six games in the league. Yet, there was always an element of deception about these results as the team was not playing well overall and looked to be relying on individual talent for the most part. A resounding 5:1 loss to Manchester City quickly brought Spurs back to reality and the players soon became disenchanted with the all-too-public attacks that Sherwood was aiming at them. The morale of the team, never too high at any stage in the season anyway, sunk to new lows after heavy defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Liverpool in March. These losses ended any slim hopes of a Champions League charge and the rest of the season was one prolonged agony with both players and Sherwood himself well aware that he is leaving at the end of the season. Thus, there is very little clarity as to what is happening at Spurs at the moment. They have some exceptional players in their squad but the peculiar decisions at board level are handicapping them and it is hard to see them breaking the glass ceiling that is the top four next season, no matter who will be their coach.

Player of the Season: Christian Eriksen