The season is done and dusted, 4th place it is then but as we know because of Chelsea’s antics in the Champions League final we have no Champions League football down at the Lane next season. What impact this will have to the squad, with players in and out, is unknown for the time being, but that is discussion for another day, along with a whole host of subjects that this blog will try and delve into over the summer months.
Right now we have the first in the series on the season review, where we have asked the bloggers who have written during the season to give there opinion on what has just gone by. First up is Kenny Palmer.
‘It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.’ Bill Nicholson memorably said.
That quote couldn’t contrast more with the current incumbent in Spurs hot seat Harry Redknapps comment on finishing 4th: “If people start getting carried away with what Tottenham should be doing they need a reality check.” Apparently Spurs are not allowed to aspire to be better & compete for major honours. Triffic!
Looking at where Spurs finished dispassionately finishing 4th would have be considered good if Spurs had got a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds but Chelsea winning the Champions League means Spurs are consigned to the Europa League for another season. Missing out on 3rd is a bitter disappointment after throwing away a 10 point lead over Arsenal in February and challenging the two Manchester clubs for the title. You have to judge a season in the context of 38 games and how the season unfolded.
Spurs were competing against what has universally been agreed is the worse Arsenal team in the Wenger era and also against a declining Chelsea and Liverpool with what Redknapp and his cohorts reckon is the best team anyone under 47 has seen a sentiment many Spurs fans me included do not share.
Spurs started the season in poor fashion against the backdrop of the Tottenham riots which resulted in the opening home game against Everton being cancelled. The Lilywhites also had to contend with the interminably long Modric transfer saga dragging on with the Croatian international purportedly “not in the right frame of mind” to play the first game of the season against the then current champions United. Despite a decent performance the team was soundly beaten 3-0
That was followed by the humiliating 5-1 thrashing at the hands of City assisted by Redknapps decision to pair Modric with Niko Kranjcar in centre midfield in what from the outside looking in seemed a deliberate ploy to force Levy’s hand to accelerate the purchase of Scott Parker. Redknapp as he has proved in the past is not averse to make a petulant point even if it is to the detriment of the team.
The additions of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor before the summer transfer window shut proved to be the catalyst to Spurs going on a long unbeaten run which defined the first half of the season.
Some of the football in that run was sublime from the 4-0 demolition ofLiverpool, to swaggering wins against QPR and Aston Villa in which the team arguably played the best football in the premiership.
The turning point in the 2nd half of the season was Redknapp being linked with theEngland managerial vacancy after the surprise departure of Fabio Capello. This resulted in Redkanpp losing focus and the team going on a long run of 5 games without a win, before a restorative win against Swansea. The beginning of the poor run was the capitulation against Arsenal in which the team collapsed after initially taking a 2-0 lead. On the day the team was devoid of heart, desire and character with no leadership coming from the bench either.
A contributory factor in the poor run was Redknapps tactical ineptitude in key games where he deployed the premierships best creative central midfielder Luka Modric in a left midfield position where he never influences the game and to stick Gareth Bale, on his day one of the best left wingers in world football, on the right wing.
Further wretched performances and defeats against Norwich & QPR jeopardized Spurs finishing 4th. The inclusion of Sandro into the team against Blackburn & the revitalized form of Aaron Lennon were the catalysts to Spurs regaining form and confidence in the remaining games.
The draw against Aston Villa was where the Lilywhites acceded 3rd place to Arsenal. A bolder manager than Redknapp would have gone all out to win the game. His indecisiveness and indecision, which must have filtered down to the players, when making substitutions ultimately cost Spurs victory. Redknapps decision to bring on Parker late on in the game for Van Der Vaart when Spurs needed to win and it made no difference whether the team drew or lost was puzzling to say the least. Victory over Fulham cemented 4th spot.
The collapse from February/March was largely down to poor management from Redknapp with his decision not to rotate fatigued players a point highlighted by Vedran Corluka. He also weakened the squad with his January transfer dealings loaning out players like Sebastian Bassong, Steven Pienaar and Corluka senior players who would have provided cover and contributed in the run in. The players he brought were the injury prone veterans Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen who made negligible contribution and will be released in the summer.
Before the start of the season Redknapp and his coaching staff more or less admitted they were going to sack off the Europa League by blooding in youth players. Did he have a mandate to do this? What is the point of entering a competition if you don’t go in with the attitude “you’re in it to win it?” I’m not sure if Thursday nights was Harry and Sandra’s bingo night but the manager constantly talked down the competition and never hid his disdain for it. This attitude filtered down to the players who followed the lead from the manager and talked of similar disdain for it most notably Ekotto. Unsurprisingly a lot of the football in the group stage was turgid. A particular lowlight was the 2nd leg of the qualifier against Hearts. The 4th official put up the sign for 3 minutes of injury after a drab 0-0 this resulted in ironic boo’s from crowd to end the game as most had lost the will to live after watching the game.
Unsurprisingly Tottenham didn’t progress past the group stage. The competition should have been used to give squad players valuable game time which would have kept them motivated and involved. The December exit meant that half the squad realized they would not play any more football for the rest of the season. Not surprisingly there was a stampede of players wanting to the leave club to go out on loan.
Improbably Spurs made it to the Semi Finals of the FA Cup despite being outplayed in earlier rounds by Championship strugglers Watford and Division One new boys Stevenage. Disappointingly for the fans the team was humiliated 5-1 by Chelsea in the Semi Final. Nothing to add on the Carling Cup as the team exited at the first hurdle!
In conclusion finishing 4th cannot been seen as a success when the team should have sewn up 3rd with something to spare! The chairman Daniel Levy will have to come out with a statement next week and either back Redknapp or sack him. An unfortunate consequence of Chelsea winning the Champions League is it will mean Spurs will no longer be able to attract Damião, Remy or elite players. Missing out on a place in the Champions league is a setback which could alter the whole landscape of Spurs summer.
Scott Parker for his consistently good performances during the season where he provided bite and drive from midfield winning over initially skeptical supporters. He flagged at the end through sheer fatigue. Honoury mentions to Younes kaboul who was a rock at the heart of the Spurs defence and Kyle Walker who had a fantastic breakthrough season.
Most valuable player to the team
Emmanuel Adebayor who was the pivot in the teams 4-4-1-1 formation in which they excelled during the season. He led the line with unexpected industry and distinction, linking play well. He finished the season with 13 assists and 18 goals in all competitions. His absence from the team through injury highlighted just how crucial to the team he was. It is hoped a deal can be done with the Togolese international andManchesterCityto retain his services next season.
Most underrated (undervalued) player
Jermain Defoe who despite only 11 starts still managed to finish the season as Spurs 2nd top scorer in all competitions with 16 goals, 11 in the league. The diminutive striker came off the bench to score crucial goals against Newcastle away to level the scores and the winning goal against WBA at home. He is now 10th in the list of Spurs all time goal scorers with 170 goals. A place in Roy Hodgson squad for the Euro’s a fitting reward for the striker who has conducted himself well and with professionalism despite a puzzling lack of game time. He will have the best wishes of most Spurs fans when he inevitably departs in the summer to seek regular football.
Most polarizing (overrated) player
Rafael Van Der Vaart, undoubtedly a good but not great player but seems to have an elevated status among some fans. His continued desire to get the ball off the centre backs toes too often left Adebayor isolated up front. Finished the season strongly but had as many anonymous games as good games in the first half of the season. His positional indiscipline often proved costly for the team as well. The possible additions of Dembele or another player who plays between the lines will mean he is no longer an automatic starter. Not convinced he realizes there is no “I” in team!
Beniot Assou-Ekotto’s thunderbolt from outside the area against Everton immediately stands out as do Kyle Walkers improbable 35 yard free kick against Blackburn which curled wickedly to leave Paul Robinson helpless and Gareth Bales powerful run and finish against Norwich which heralded his disinclination to play on the left!
The 4-0 win against Liverpool which was notable for Luka Modric’s 20 yard screamer and the dismissal of the odious Charlie Adam. The 2-1 win against Arsenal with a wonderful long range winner from Kyle Walker and also the away 5-0 win against Hearts where Spurs gave the Edinburgh club a footballing exhibition!
Redknapps lack of rotation of players which ultimately undermined the team as players form dipped due to fatigue. It also resulted in players who could have contributed like Sebastian Bassong, Vedran Corluka and Steven Pienaar seeking moves out on loan to get some game time.
Change needed for next season
A new manager! Redknapp doesn’t believe the club should or can compete for major honours and is constantly lowering expectations to make himself look good when the low targets are made. He has also demonstrated he does not have a winning or winner’s mentality or tactical acumen to take the club forward. He has no affinity with the club or the fans and has disrespected the great institution of Tottenham Hotspur on numerous occasions.
Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )
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