Aston Villa arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with nothing to play for but it was Harry Kane’s Tottenham future that took centre stage ahead of this Premier League tie. Speculation grows by the day that the Spurs legend is ready to end his association with the club he has been with since he was 11 years of age.
European Hopes Hanging by a Thread as Harry Kane’s Tottenham Future Takes Centre Stage
European Qualification Key for Spurs
Champions League qualification was already a distant dream before the match on Wednesday, but European qualification and the top six was still to play for in Tottenham’s final home match of the season. For Aston Villa, it was about looking to end the season well after a solid campaign following last year’s great escape.
On the pitch, it was a powerful Steven Bergwijn drive resulting in his first goal of the season that put the hosts in front, much to the delight of the ten thousand strong support in the ground who were making their voices heard.
Tottenham, and in particular Hugo Lloris, then got lucky. Very lucky indeed. A fairly innocuous ball was played over to Ollie Watkins and Lloris came rushing out to see the ball out of play, but in doing so clearly caught Watkins who was incensed that the official waived his claims for a penalty away. Replays confirmed that it was a clear foul and surely a clear and obvious error by the referee but nothing was given. Once more, poor officiating and the perplexing use or non-use of VAR raised more questions than answers.
Villa did gain parity though in the most bizarre of circumstances as Marvelous Nakamba delivered a cross and Sergio Reguilon swung his right boot at the ball which looped up and over Lloris into the net. From that point on, the Spurs’ crowd became quickly frustrated with their side’s lack of attacking intent and willingness to concede possession far too often.
Tottenham’s Lack of Identity Cause for Concern
In his pre-match notes, chairman Daniel Levy looked to acknowledge that the club had lost sight of some of the things that should be important to the club as they focused on the new stadium.
It read: “As a club, we have been so focused on delivering the stadium and dealing with the impact of the pandemic, that I feel we lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA.”
The players seem to have lost sight of this as well this season with lethargic displays, losing possession and struggling to show any coherence in defence. Tottenham right now are a club that has lost its identity from top to bottom. That identity needs to be re-found and rejuvenated urgently otherwise Spurs could be looking at some long, hard seasons to come.
Levy tried to strike conciliatory tones in his message to fans well aware of protests against him and ENIC continuing in the wake of the European Super League debacle. His reference to the return of fans at last and getting behind the team may have been well-meaning when he stated: “The hope must be that we are now looking ahead to a return to what we all enjoyed before the pandemic struck. Today is an excellent example – the opportunity to come together, return to our home and for 90 minutes cheer the team on.”
When the first half came to an end, the performance was met with resounding boos with Spurs now 2-1 down following Watkins goal after another calamitous moment from Reguilon. Had fans been in stadia throughout this season, the Spurs players ears may well have been ringing on more than one occasion.
Harry Kane’s Tottenham Future in Doubt as Club in Disarray On and Off the Pitch
For all the suggestions about Spurs lack of ambition under ENIC, they have qualified for European competition in 14 of the past 15 seasons, so the fact they might miss out altogether this time around would sting. Semi-finals have come and gone, cup final defeats as well as a second and third place Premier League finishes, yet when it has arrived at the big moment, Spurs have consistently failed to perform which is why they have no trophies to show for their efforts, especially under Mauricio Pochettino. Those efforts seem a long time ago now with the club now in disarray on and off the field.
Levy gambled in a big way by appointing serial winner Jose Mourinho but that backfired and the club are now once more looking for another manager. With the exception of Pochettino and Harry Redknapp, each and every one of Levy’s appointments has ended in failure and at some point, there must be a question mark about the process of hiring managers and why they are given little time to achieve success. At the first sign of trouble, Levy is often quick to pull the trigger.
If, or when, Kane does leave Tottenham in search of success, it would be unfair to suggest that he hasn’t had chances to achieve that with Spurs because they have been there and often when those chances came around, Kane was injured – the Champions League defeat to Liverpool being a prime example of that and he was unable to have any impact on those games.
Tottenham a Tough Sell to Managers and Players Alike
With Tottenham suffering an identity crisis and in danger of losing one if not more of their best players, another problem facing Levy is selling Tottenham to a new manager and new players. The best players will want European football and believe that will be a regular feature for the club, but it doesn’t feel like that is the case with Spurs right now.
Managers will also look at Levy and consider whether they will be backed in the transfer market or whether they will just be left to coach whoever might be signed. Any prospective manager will need to take on a massive rebuild and will want assurances that they will be given time, and that could be three to four seasons for Spurs to get close to where they were under Pochettino and to get a squad capable of challenging and winning major honours.
A sleeping giant may be what Spurs would be called right now but for prospective managers and players looking on and considering taking a gamble on them, it may look more like a club in a coma.