So here we have it, the end of the season. We set our own personal best but at the end of the day our best fell agonisingly short. We took it to the wire and to finish on 72 points and to miss out on Champions League football goes to show how strong and competitive the Premier League has been this season. 72 points would have got us 3rd in 2012 and 2nd in 2011, which just goes to show how unlucky we have been this season.
As I said we took it to the wire, we beat Sunderland with another worldy from a certain Gareth Bale. But it should have been so much more comfortable with 2 stone wall penalties not being given (with Bale being yellow carded for diving on one of them) and another that we have seen be given countless times to other teams in the past. We held up our end of the bargain and although it wasn’t the 4-0 thumping Alan Pardrew said he didn’t care if they lost by, the 1-0 loss to Arsenal by his Newcastle team didn’t do us any favours.
If we look back to the beginning of the season, this was supposed to be a season of change for our boys. We had a manager that many didn’t want (I even remarked that we could end up with Steffen Freund in charge by the end of the season), we had sold two of our best players in Modric and Van Der Vaart, and Ledley King had hung up his boots having lost the battle against his chronic knee injury. Many of the pundits had us falling away from the elite teams in the league (Mark Lawrenson had us finishing 7th, only one place above QPR… Just shows what he knows), but apart from our apparent “dip” in form around February/March we kept pace with those elite teams and even caused a few upsets along the way.
We can look back on this season with some fond memories. Yeah it didn’t start well, but we won at Old Trafford for the first time in 23 years. We had an amazing 10 minute spell against Manchester City to win 3-1 when it look like we were going to go down to another disappointing defeat. And who will ever forget all those top drawer goals from Gareth Bale? My goal of the Season is the rocket he set off that got us the three points against West Ham (it was made even sweeter that it won me just under £200 from a £15 bet!).
Hopefully Daniel Levy will get the check book out nice and early this summer and help AVB improve on what has turned out to be a very good squad to give us that extra something to get us back into the Champions League where many feel we have deserved to be for the past two seasons.
As it is the day after the end of the season I thought I would do a player by player report, marking them with grades and given a little insight as to why I have marked them so:
Hugo Lloris: #hugoboss gets a solid A from me. When we signed the current French number 1 keeper it was seen as a bit of a coupe. Many believed that Hugo was too good a player to not go to a Champions League team, but his signing showed our intent for the season. The reported £8m we spent on him is already starting to look like a bargain as he alone has saved us many points that I think Friedel would have spurned.
Brad Friedel: “Big-Bad Brad” gets a B- from me. He has been solid when called upon but at 42 I think he has lost a step, and with AVB wanting to play a high defensive line it was always going to show bad on Friedel’s weaknesses.
Jan Vertonghen: “Super Jan” gets my second solid A. He defensive attributes remind me of a certain Ledley Kings; he reads the game very well, puts in solid tackles and is quick off the mark to make up for any mistake – his own or others. But add to that his ability to slot into the Left Back position with ease, his nice touch and passing ability and then his ability to find the back on the net, we have one of the most promising defenders in Europe playing for us
Michael Dawson: Daws gets an A- for his efforts this season, on and off the pitch. He was out of favour big time at the beginning of the season, with AVB trying to pack him off to QPR. But Daws dug his heels in and stood firm saying that he wanted to fight for his place at Spurs, and fight he did. He worked his way ahead of Gallas and Caulker to become our preferred partner for Vertonghen in the heart of our defence and he wore the shirt and the captains’ armband with pride. I’ve heard many refer to him as “Mr Tottenham” and it would take a brave man to argue otherwise after his massive show of loyalty at the beginning of the season, he seems to have filled the void of the leader on the pitch very well.
Steven Caulker: Young, strong, fast and seems to be in possession of a footballing brain, this has been the true breakthrough year for Caulker. Having showed such promise at the beginning of the season, we didn’t see as much of him towards the end as I would have liked, but in AVB we trust, and I believe that we have one of the most promising Centre Backs in the country. A future Spurs Captain maybe? I’m giving Caulker a solid B for his first full season in the first team
BAE: “Don’tcha wish your left back was B-A-E?” There probably won’t be as many teams as there was last year wishing that, as although Benny has still been solid, I don’t think he has been at the dizzy highs that he has reached in recent seasons. Because of this I am giving him a B-. Benny seems to have fallen out of favour with AVB and if it wasn’t for our lack of any cover at Left Back I don’t think we would have seen as much of him this season as we have.
Kyle Walker: Another who hasn’t hit the dizzying highs of last season, Walker has had a hit and miss season for us and I am going to give him my first C, albeit a C+. It has been a hit and miss season for our young England International but he is still young, with bags of talent and I believe this season will just be a blip and he will be back to his magical best next time around.
Kyle Naughton: Often played out of position at Left Back this season, I don’t think he was ever going to have an amazing season. He made a lot of mistakes and never looked comfortable, but at least we got to see some of him and he wasn’t just left as a back-up for Walker. Our other Kyle gets a C- from me
William Gallas: He still has the brain of a top flight Centre Back, but he doesn’t have the legs of one anymore. Gallas was brilliant at the beginning of the season for Caulker, being that more experienced player to help guide him through his nervy first few games for us. But for his own performances Gallas has been on a downward spiral since his heroics against AC Milan in the Champions League at the Lane. Granted he often played in front of Friedel who wasn’t quick enough himself to cover for Gallas’ loss of the proverbial yard, but I don’t think there would have been much more that playing in front of Lloris would have done for him this season. Good footballing brain, but no longer has it for the top flight, I’m giving Gallas a C-.
Gareth Bale: This man has to take the plaudits: PFA Player and Young Player of the year, and the Football Writers player of the year. I can’t think of a time when we have had a player of such skill and ability turn up and play pretty much week in week out at the top level. Gascoigne maybe? Hoddle? Even if it was either of them, that was a lifetime ago and I’m glad we have our Welsh Wizard playing for us. Bale’s season deserves nothing less than an A+.
Aaron Lennon: “Always the bridesmaid, never the Bride” is a saying I think can sum up Aaron Lennon for us. 9 times out of 10 Lennon comes up with the goods for us, but doesn’t seem to get the praise he deserves, as he gets overshadowed by our star player (Bale, VdV, Modric, Berbatov etc). He has had a solid season without setting it alight, so I’m doing to give him an A-.
Sandro: we only got half a season out of “The Beast” but what a half a season it was! He bossed the midfield and mopped up anything that came his way. He was amazing up until he did his knee in. It’s a shame that he got injured, as I think we would have easily got 3rd if he hadn’t. I’m going to give Sandro’s half season an A-.
Moussa Dembele: Another very good debut season from another of our summer signings, and up until Sandro got injured, they looked to be onto one of *those* central midfield pairings that other teams wished they had. His season stuttered through parts as he wasn’t able to get the same partnership going with Parker but he was still good when called on and I am going to give him a nice B+.
Clint Dempsey: “Deuce” has had a solid season for us, coming up with some vital goals (we will always have Old Trafford) and his work rate is second to none. He might not light up the pitch when he’s playing but I’d rather him in my team than Gio Dos Santos. I’m giving Dempsey a B+.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: He had an opposite season to Dembele; it started slowly and ended on a high. Never a starting regular but always on hand when called upon. Gylfi get a solid B from me.
Tom Carroll: The rising star. I’m going to give him a B-. Tom Carroll can be the future of Spurs if we nurture him in the correct way. In the glimpses we saw of him he looks like a good player, but still one for the future. I hope he gets a full season on loan to another Prem team next season so he can continue to grow into the player he can be.
Scott Parker: The injury he got towards the end of last season seems to have resulted in Scotty losing a step. He is still quite reliable when called upon but is nowhere near the player he was last season. Maybe it’s something to do with being thrown into the deep end after Sandros injury, or maybe it’s the beginning of the eventual slip that all players suffer from in the twilight of their career. Still a good pro to have about, I’m giving Parker a solid C.
Tom Huddlestone: Thudd only really played the last few months for us, and was still quite erratic during them. We saw the best of him when he came on as a sub against City where he bossed the game and pretty much won it for us without scoring. But that was it for me, he did do badly, but he didn’t boss games like that as we know he can. I’m giving Thudd a solid C for his efforts this season.
Lewis Holtby: Can’t say much about Holtby, he didn’t get much playing time and when he did he was a bit meh. Always looked hungry for the ball and chases everything until it’s a lost cause, I think we didn’t get a chance to see the real Holtby that we heard about before he arrived. I hope we do next year as I think he will be our replacement for Van Der Vaart. Lewis gets a solid C from
Jermain Defoe: JD gets a B- from me. He scored 14 for us in all competitions and you have to remember that he was injured for a few months as well. I was tempted to give him a higher rating but he lets himself down with his greediness on the ball (some will say that’s a necessary evil for his game) and it seemed to take him 5-6 chances to get the ball in the back on the net. Still reliable and I hope we don’t sell him (yet).
Emmanuel Adebayor: Ade gets my lowest rating out of our first team players. I’m giving him a D+. We saw at the end of the season that he still possesses the ability to unlock defences and that when on form he is a quality striker but where was it for the majority of the season? He claims that the fact that he hasn’t had a proper pre-season for a few years and a niggling injury are to blame for his loss of form. Only time will tell if he was telling the truth.
AVB: What a season he has had. The media held a witch hunt for his head pretty much up to Christmas, and I think it was Adrian Durham who tweeted that ‘Arry would take QPR to a higher finish in the league than AVBs Tottenham. He proved the doubters wrong and has made a case for him to be a quality manager for years to come. It’s onwards and upwards for me and I can’t wait to see what he can get out of the team next season. AVB gets a solid A from me for his brilliance this season. I would have given him an A just for the way he celebrates every goal!
So the seasons done. We missed out again by the skin of our teeth. But I have faith in AVB and I believe that he is the man to lead us forward. He is young and has some brilliant ideas so let’s hope Levy and the board get behind him and help him build a team that we will be talking about in years to come, just like we do with the great Bill Nicholson and his ‘61 winning double team.
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Until August: Come. On. You. Spurs!!!