Connect with us

Tottenham Hotspur

Where has it all gone wrong for Tottenham in Europe this season?



Just as Tottenham Hotspur fans everywhere were celebrating the humiliation of North London rivals Arsenal yesterday, and all that entailed – including a memorable Arsenal Fan TV night – they were brought crashing down to earth with a lagging, lacklustre and lethargic performance on Thursday night against Belgian side KAA Gent, who are – without too much disrespect – a very average side, in a very average league.

Embed from Getty Images


The game was an extension of the continental nightmare that Spurs have gone through this season, beginning with shambolic performances, in a very winnable Champions League group, that saw them eventually come third, winning two games out of the five.

But what’s actually going wrong? It’s a combination of a mixture of factors – the most pressing of which is the fact that the second-string players at White Hart Lane simply are not good enough. This isn’t Spurs in melt-down, mind, but it’s an assertion that has to be made if the club is to make steps forward in coming years.

Mauricio Pochettino has implemented a 3-4-3 formation at times this season that has been extremely effective, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose offering an attacking threat, the defensive security of a defensive partnership that featured the previously infallible Toby Alderweireld and his compatriot Jan Vertonghen, while the free-scoring Harry Kane and Dele Alli looked to have perfected their understanding of the other’s game.

Embed from Getty Images


Now, this is excellent when everybody’s fit, or if injured players can be replaced by reserves that do not compromise the effectiveness of the system – and this is key.

Ben Davies may be defensively sound, but if he cannot offer a threat moving forwards – he has proven on numerous occasions that he can’t – then playing him in the left-wing back slot is a stupid mistake that inhibits the way the squad play.

With Jan Vertonghen’s injury, Spurs have been unable to find anyone to step in; the ever-present Eric Dier partners Alderwerield, but the third defender is either Kevin Wimmer, who’s been nothing short of diabolical this season, or Cameron Carter-Vickers, who Pochettino clearly doesn’t think is ready.

So, the fault is in Spurs’ inability to bring in players that provide backup that would fit the system. For example, the despised Alberto Moreno would probably be a better fit at Spurs than Ben Davies, because of the importance of the attacking function of the wing-backs not just in the 3-4-3, but also in the acclaimed 4-2-3-1.

Transfer business on the whole at Hotspur Way has been pretty atrocious in the last twelve months, Victor Wanyama aside, and nothing personified this better than a characterful Moussa Sissoko performance on Thursday, in which the Frenchman proved himself as the heir to Ali Dia, except with a greater tendency to get involved – much to the travelling Spurs fans’ dismay.

Embed from Getty Images


Of course, manager Mauricio Pochettino must not avoid taking a portion of the blame. The Argentine was unable to motivate his players to exact the required level of performance, or was naive to the way that Gent would play – it’s not the first time Spurs have come unstuck against a side who have set up to counter the dynamic press employed by the Argentine head coach.

It remains frustrating that this is a problem the manager and his team have been unable to find a solution to; Spurs seem reliant on a piece of magic from one of their midfielders against such sides. But, with the team selection as it was, it’s difficult to see what Pochettino could have done differently – it isn’t him on the pitch, after all.

Spurs were bad, really bad, on Thursday, and such performances haven’t been anomalies this season against sides who have countered the press well – and for this, give Genk credit. While Thursday night’s victors may sit mid-table in Belgium’s top league, they regularly play a 3-4-3 and Spurs came unstuck against the system, which manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck has clearly drilled into his players successfully.

Even then, an almost full-strength Tottenham Hotspur side should be rolling such teams over comfortably. As it is, they’ve got an uncomfortable home tie at Wembley with which to turn over a deficit, while Genk will travel to the capital in high spirits, ready for the biggest game of many of their players’ careers.

The final factor worth talking about is the mentality of the squad. Pochettino discussed this in his pre-match conference; it’s difficult to overturn a ‘losing’ mentality and to create a team with a winning mindset may even be beyond the Argentine’s skill set.

Embed from Getty Images


But it seems that Spurs are serial bottlers, especially in big games: home to a ten man Arsenal side, at 2-1 up when victory would have put them top of the league; *that* game in Newcastle against an already relegated side when victory would have ensured second place; at home to Leverkusen in the Champions League when defeat wasn’t really an option.

Spurs are either really, really good in these games or mess things up horribly, and it’s the latter all too frequently. And that’s just the general mentality of the squad. More specifically, travelling in Europe seems to constantly undermine performances, with Spurs not having won away in the Europa League since 2008.

The days of most success came when the exquisite Luka Modric, the mastery of Rafael van der Vaart and the unbelievable talent of Gareth Bale came to the fore – those players were almost meant for the big European occasions, and it’s no surprise that Modric and Bale have gone on to have glittering careers at Real Madrid, while van der Vaart came from the Spanish giants. They all relished the European stage in a way the current crop of stars haven’t managed.

European football has become a burden instead of a joy at White Hart Lane. Perhaps the only thing that may cause this to change will be trophies, and more game time, especially as Spurs have a notably young squad, but regardless, there are deficiencies that have yet to be filled.

If Spurs are to overcome this apparent mental block, then they could also pursue such talents in the transfer window – just think what could have been achieved with a figure of around £30,000,000 in last summer’s transfer window had the money not been spent on a talent-less Frenchman at Newcastle.

Oh, the joys of being a Spurs fan.

Josh is a blogger who has been writing about Spurs for over a year. He's an avid sports fan, and is devoted not just to Tottenham Hotspur but to football as a whole. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brownyyy26, and comments or questions are always welcome.

English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen could be one of Premier League’s greatest ever bargains

Christian Eriksen is getting better by the season and cost Spurs just £11.5 million.



This week has seen Arsenal legend Martin Keown singing the praises of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen. Speaking on BBC One’s Match of the Day (18th March) Keown stated:

“This player was always technically proficient, but he’s getting better all the time. It’s top level ability. He can pick a pass whenever he wants to. He just has everything.

“I enjoy watching him play. He wants to work, that’s part of the team ethic. He’s becoming the brains of the team.”

His comments came after Eriksen starred in the weekend win v Swansea City. The Dane scored twice as Tottenham booked their place in the FA Cup semi-final courtesy of a 3-0 triumph.

during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at Wembley Stadium on December 9, 2017 in London, England.

Keown then commented on the price Spurs paid for Eriksen back in 2013:

“I think they paid £12.5 million for him, that’s an absolute snip.”

Spurs snapped up Eriksen from Ajax, for a fee actually reported by Sky Sports to be in the region of £11.5 million.

Looking back now it is clear to see just how much of a bargain Spurs managed to bring in. Eriksen was approaching the end of his Ajax contract at the time, which did not help the Dutch side’s bargaining power.

Comparing Eriksen to his current contemporaries in the game it is clear to see just how incredible a deal this was for Spurs.

Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in January. The Brazilian cost a fee reported by Sky Sports to be £146 million. Tottenham fans will rightly believe that Eriksen is at least as good as the Barca newbie. In fact, many will suggest Eriksen is the superior operator.

Another barometer to consider in this case is that of Tottenham’s summer signing Davinson Sanchez. The Colombian, like Eriksen, was signed from Ajax but four years on and with circumstances different cost much more.

Sanchez cost a club record £42 million, according to the Guardian. That is a difference of over £30 million which highlights just how impressive the fee paid for Eriksen is. In the world of £200 million transfer fees looking back at the deal for Eriksen nearly five years ago will please Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

Tottenham will obviously hope they never have to sell the Dane. But if they did, the fee involved could easily amount to £100m-plus.

Which would certainly not be a bad return on the investment from Tottenham Hotspur’s point of view.

Continue Reading

English Premier League

Sessegnon or Bale? Past or future? Spurs must make right move this summer



Tottenham Hotspur appear to be emerging as the frontrunners in the race to sign Fulham talent Ryan Sessegnon this summer.

The Times reported in January that Tottenham had made a £25 million bid the summer previously, but that Fulham value the teenager at around £50 million.

On top of that, Spurs are also being linked with a sensational move to bring Gareth Bale back to North London. Spanish source Diario Gol has reported that Bale is ready to leave Real Madrid this summer – and has decided a return to Spurs is his wish. Bale of course left Spurs for Madrid in what the Telegraph reported was a then world record £86 million fee.

during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on January 20, 2018 in London, England.

It poses a big question for Spurs’s chairman Daniel Levy and manager Mauricio Pochettino. Do they start a new future, or go back to the past?

Sessegnon has been consistently compared to Bale in playing style. Much of that is down to his left-back origin. A lot of it is also down to his obvious precocious talent.

Tottenham will no doubt not be able to afford both players this summer. So what do they do?

The arrival of Bale would be a dream comeback. However, the Welshman turns 29 in June and has suffered with consistent injury problems over the past few years.

EIBAR, SPAIN – MARCH 10: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Real Madrid at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on March 10, 2018 in Eibar, Spain . (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Sessegnon on the other hand is at the start of his career. The 17-year-old has already played nearly 70 professional games and scored 21 goals, many of those from left-back.

He would cost less than Bale and in the long-run would be a more stable investment. If Bale’s injury problems continued Tottenham could end up paying a larger sum for a player who cannot be relied upon.

Tottenham Hotspur should continue to look to the future in the case of Sessegnon or Bale. Bring in the Fulham star and hopefully reap the rewards.

Continue Reading

Tottenham Hotspur

Moroyin Omolabi released by Tottenham Hotspur one year after praise

The Nigerian defender briefly spent time on trial at Reading this year.



Nearly one year ago Tottenham Hotspur prospect Moroyin Omolabi was winning praise for his performances in the club’s youth teams.

After a win against Norwich City for the under-18s the Nigerian midfielder was given high praise by his manager John McDermott.

It came after he seamlessly dropped into a centre-back role for the game. Speaking to the official Tottenham Hotspur website after the game McDermott stated:

“Moroyin Omolabi, playing at centre-half, stood out against their front players who were very good.

“There were a lot of positives today and I was very proud of the way we played.”

It seemed that the 18-year-old might, therefore, be a player to keep tabs on for the Spurs first-team one day.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

But despite impressing back in April of last year, it seems Omolabi has not progressed quite like Tottenham would have hoped.

In the most recent list of player registrations released by the FA the versatile teenager has been confirmed as released by Tottenham.

The 18-year-old left Spurs by mutual consent on the 27th February.

The teenager was a part of the UEFA Youth League squad for Spurs, but did not feature in a single game.

He played seven times in the Under-18 Premier League this campaign, scoring against West Ham back in October.

But after dropping out of contention at Spurs, the Nigerian spent time on trial at Reading – featuring in three games for the Berkshire club.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

His final game for Tottenham appears to have been the 2-1 defeat against Fulham in October.

His failure to launch at Spurs just highlights the strength in depth Tottenham have in their youth ranks.

The teenager will now face a hunt for a new team in the summer, with his Tottenham days behind him.

It will be interesting to see if Reading follows up their interest in the player but  Omolabi will now be on the hunt for a new team.

Hopefully, his education at Tottenham Hotspur will see him in good stead in his hunt for a professional career elsewhere.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2017 The Boot Room.