Tottenham Hotspur’s Chaotic Season – Failed Gambles, Defensive Woes and Fan Unrest

Despite eventually qualifying for the Europa Conference League, Tottenham Hotspur’s chaotic season was one that started with hopes and dreams of glory but was quickly whittled down to being a huge disappointment, leaving an uncertain future ahead for the North London Club.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Chaotic Season Leaves Uncertain Future

From Day One Disaster to Premier League Leaders

Jose Mourinho flattered to deceive as the new Spurs manager from his appointment in October 2019 to the end of that season and there was a feeling that the fatigue was still hanging over the club as they kicked off the 2020/21 season with a 1-0 home defeat to Everton.

That defeat was quickly pushed aside and suddenly Tottenham looked like being a club capable of being dark horses in the Premier League title race. Gareth Bale came ‘home’ on loan along with the signings of left-back Sergio Reguilon from Real Madrid and Carlos Vinicius on loan from Benfica.

Former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp even went as far as to tell Sky Sports News that Tottenham should be seen as genuine title contenders: “If you ask me, honestly, I think they will make top four. I think they could even win the league this year. I know people are going to think I am crazy but I look at that squad. It looks like it is going to be an open year. Look what happened at the weekend.”

The comments came after Tottenham had beaten Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford just a couple of games on from beating Southampton 5-2, also away from home. In these two games there was a free-flowing style to Spurs that was seen as being in tune with the club’s DNA and suggested that Mourinho had realised his more defensive style was not suited to his new club.

By December 13th 2020, Spurs were top of the table ahead of an away day at defending champions Liverpool, and despite having chances to win the game themselves, a lapse in concentration gifted the Reds a late winner. The wheels started to come loose and so Tottenham Hotspur’s chaotic season started to unravel.

Defensive Woes

In both 2-0 home wins over Manchester City and Arsenal, Mourinho appeared to have settled on a deeper sitting Spurs who played on the counter-attack and both games were seen as being Mourinho master classes. Clinical up-front with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane whilst new signing Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg was breaking up play with Tanguy Ndombele, Redknapp’s claims were not looking as extreme as some had suggested.

When Liverpool arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they could not have been expecting to face such a poor, incoherent and clueless Spurs side, and they swept them aside 3-1. Fans hoping for just a blip were in for a rude awakening as defeats followed away to relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion and at home to Chelsea.

Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld were in and out of the side and mistakes kept costing points. Manchester City were flattered to only beat Spurs 3-0 at the Etihad and the game saw a bizarre moment as Sanchez, trying to challenge Ilkay Gundogan, ended up falling over himself and trying to head the ball from somewhere below sea level. It was a moment that summed up Spurs’ struggles. Slowly dropping out of the top four and hopes and dreams started to turn to fear and dread.

Another Trophy Squandered

Despite the inconsistent displays, Mourinho was brought in by chairman Daniel Levy to turn the club into winners and he guided Tottenham to the verge of a first trophy in 13 years by reaching the Carabao Cup final. However, he never got the chance to show he was still a winner as Levy decided to fire the Portuguese manager just five days before the final was due to take place at Wembley.

Ryan Mason was placed in temporary charge until the end of the season but the final was lost 1-0 to City with a poor performance and once more showed this Spurs squad’s incapability of turning up for the big moments, as they often failed to do in semi-finals and finals under Mauricio Pochettino.

European Qualification

Mason managed to drag the squad over the line on the final day of the season and earned qualification for the inaugural Europa Conference League, a far cry from the Champions League that has now been missed out on for a second successive season. Whilst it still means European competition of sorts, it is unlikely to bring in anywhere near the kind of revenue that the Champions League would and with stadium debts and the pandemic hitting the club hard, it would be hard to see the season as being anything other than a failure.

Harry Kane – Time for a Legend to Move On

In an interview with Gary Neville on the former Manchester United star’s YouTube channel, Kane said: “For me, I don’t want to come to the end of my career and have any regrets so I want to be the best that I can be. I’ve said before, I never say I’d stay at Spurs for the rest of my career… I’d never say I’d leave Spurs.”

Reports and rumours have continued daily about Kane’s Spurs future, with many suggesting that his departure is a foregone conclusion and there is no doubt that losing their star player would be a huge problem for the club. How do you replace a player that has just won his third golden boot alongside the award for most assists? A player that has achieved that in a team that finished seventh in the Premier League and is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world is going to be near impossible to replace with someone can replicate those kinds of performances and certainly not someone who can come in and do that straight away.

The argument for Kane to leave is that he needs to win trophies and that he will not achieve that at Spurs. He is approaching 28 years of age and maybe his chances for success are reducing with each passing season, especially with his tendency to pick up ankle and knee injuries on a more regular basis, but it would be untrue to say he has not had those chances to win trophies at Spurs.

Kane himself featured in the Champions League final defeat against Liverpool and was not match fit but also did not perform on the day. In the Carabao Cup final, he again was one of many players that simply failed to turn up on the day. The chances have been there and he has been as guilty as any one of his teammates for not performing in the games when it really mattered.

The future of Kane will not be resolved quickly and any suggestion that it will be resolved prior to this summers’ European Championships are wide of the mark. Kane remains under contract with Spurs until 2024 and it appears that his agent did not add any release clause, so Levy has the upper hand and will not let Kane leave for any less than he wants for the player which could be as much as £200 million. Levy does not want to sell and history will teach Kane and his team that the chairman will make any departure as difficult as possible.

2021/22 Season – What Do Tottenham Need to Improve?

Tottenham simply must do better next season and anything equal or worse than this season’s showing would be disastrous. To improve they will need to make a number of changes in personnel.

Serge Aurier looks set to leave the club and Matt Doherty has struggled in his first season with Spurs, so right-back is one area to address. Centre-back is also a problem area with Eric Dier and Sanchez both having poor seasons, so at least one player here would be welcome with Dier and Sanchez potentially leaving for pastures new.

Oliver Skipp had a superb season on loan at Norwich City, winning the Championship and impressing the fans with his dynamic passing and ball play. There is the possibility of another loan spell for the youngster but with Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko likely surplus to requirements, this would seem an apt time to let Skipp show what he can do in the Premier League.

Should Kane leave then they are left with Son, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura up-front, with Bale and Vinicius unlikely to be around again next season so a proven goalscorer will be a must.

Overall it is consistency that Spurs must improve on if they are to move back to being a top-four club, which currently they look a long way from being.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Chaotic Season – New Squad, New Manager

Levy has a hard job to appease the club’s fans and needs to get his next managerial appointment right. There is talk of a stunning return for Pochettino but whoever comes in must have the financial backing of the board, the time needed to get back on track and be able to build a new squad.

Tottenham need a massive overhaul and without it they will be looking longingly at the top four for seasons to come.

 

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