There have been questions over tactics, performances and results all season at different times, but now it is clear that things have finally reached a potential breaking point and there is a Tottenham Hotspur crisis in full flow.
It was not just the manner of the defeat in Croatia that saw Spurs surrender a 2-0 lead in the Europa League second leg that raises concerns, but the post-match comments from captain Hugo Lloris and manager Jose Mourinho about issues on the pitch. Just what has gone wrong at the North London club and is it too late to fix the problems?
No Hiding Place: This is a Tottenham Hotspur Crisis
Dinamo Zagreb Defeat
Tottenham travelled to Croatia and managed to lose 3-0 to Zagreb in what should have been a routine match to see Spurs qualify for the Europa League quarter-final stage. It was also a competition that Mourinho has had success in. It acted a s a pathway into the Champions League should the club fail to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Zagreb were hungrier, more passionate and had more heart than Tottenham according to Mourinho after the game when talking to BT Sports, saying: “They [Dinamo] left sweat, energy, blood. In the end, they left even tears of happiness. They were very humble and committed. I have to praise them.”
Players Lacking ‘Basics of Life’
Mourinho’s job is looking more insecure as time passes, but, after the defeat to Zagreb, he was visibly angry, disappointed and looked almost lost for words. Being lost for words is not something associated with Mourinho and he did have plenty to say, but this was not his usual mind games or deflection tactics. This was a manager who appears to have run out of excuses for his team, saying: “I am disappointed for a difference of attitude of one team to another. I feel sorry that my team is the team that didn’t bring to the game, not just the basics of football but the basics of life, which is to respect our jobs and to give everything.”
Mourinho looked beaten, his eyes glistening with either anger or sadness.
Damning Verdict From Hugo Lloris
Lloris, the Spurs captain comes across as genial, almost quiet at times but following the embarrassing defeat in Zagreb, the World Cup winner did not hold back in his assessment not only of the result and performance but also of his teammates, who he appeared to suggest might not be quite as angry as they should be: “It is just a disgrace. I just hope everyone in the training room feels responsible for the situation because it’s a disgrace.”
The comments were angry but also calm. There was a silent fury about Lloris and he was not stopping there: “We had a great moment in the past because we could trust the togetherness that was in the team. Today, I don’t know, I’m not sure about that.”
Lloris, clearly pointing to the togetherness that existed under Mauricio Pochettino but stopped short of explaining why there is an issue. Lloris’ additional comments have sent shockwaves through the club as he made it clear that the issues are much deeper than simply on the pitch: “We are a club full of ambition but the team at the moment is a reflection of what is going on in the club.”
The Tottenham Dressing Room
Only the players and manager know what is happening in the dressing room but there are questions to be asked of whether Mourinho has lost that dressing room. Against Arsenal and Zagreb in the last two games, there has been fatigue and lethargy about the players. Even Harry Kane rarely dropped deep in Croatia and looked resigned to defeat.
When the tie went to extra time, the players seemed to be ignoring each other and there was little communication from Mourinho and it appears that there is a huge disconnect, not only between manager and players but, between players themselves.
The Tottenham Hotspur Crisis: Can it Be Stopped?
Tottenham are six points behind fourth place with a game in hand so the top four is still there for the taking but performances will need to change if that is to become a reality.
The comments from both Lloris and Mourinho have laid bare a Tottenham Hotspur crisis and it is one that needs to be halted. The question is whether it can be halted, but, more importantly, how it can be halted.
Tottenham still have the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to in which a victory would bring a first trophy since 2008 and that is a question that has been consistently asked of Spurs, especially under Pochettino, who got close but never quite got over the winning line.
Financially for Spurs, finishing in the top four is worth more to the club than a League Cup win. A second consecutive season outside of Europe’s elite competition would be a financial blow after a year of little income. A trophy would be welcome but even if that happens it might not be enough to resolve any issues that exist at the club.
Daniel Levy Has Huge Dilemma in the Midst of the Tottenham Hotspur Crisis
Spurs’ chairman, Daniel Levy, saw Mourinho as a proven winner, the man to deliver the silverware that has been missing from ENIC’s tenure of Spurs. One trophy may cement Mourinho as being a winner but, will it be enough to give him time to bring an end to this Tottenham Hotspur crisis?
Time is running our for Spurs’ season and also running out on the clubs long term future. Players such as Kane and Son Heung-min have waited a long time for success in a Tottenham shirt and, unless there is a change in attitude and application soon, they may well start to think whether it is time to look elsewhere for that success.
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