The fabled ‘next level’ that almost every Tottenham Hotspur fan was talking about at the start of the season simply hasn’t materialised. Poor performances in Europe – summarised by a dreadful ninety minutes at home to Leverkusen at Wembley – combined with poor performances in the league, like dropping points at Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion, combined with already being out of the trophy that’s probably their best chance of silverware this season in the League Cup, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable – although it would be extreme in every sense of the word – to suggest that by early November, the Lilywhite’s season is doomed to inevitable failure.
Few were suggesting that Spurs had a realistic chance of winning the league anyway. Before the Manchester City game at White Hart Lane, only the most optimistic fans and the odd pundit thought they had a chance. Afterwards, there was hope from a wider fanbase – and with good reason. Inflicting Pep Guardiola’s first defeat in English football was big, but the way Spurs played that day was arguably even bigger. Pochettino’s youthful, energetic side simply outplayed a side comprised of some of the world’s best players.
But since then, they’ve failed to reach those heights again. Draws away at West Brom, Bayer Leverkusen and Bournemouth followed, scoring just once in all three games, before a League Cup defeat to Liverpool, in which Vincent Janssen’s penalty was the main highlight, and dropping points at home to Leicester, who had one shot on target in the whole game. But for Janssen’s penalties, Spurs have scored once in the last five games, and once from open play in the last six.
This is the form of sides facing relegation, not those competing for the top places in the league. Of course, nobody is suggesting that Spurs will be even mildly threatened by relegation come the end of the season, but the lack of creativity and goal-scoring nous when Harry Kane isn’t on the pitch is worrying. Christian Eriksen has been below par all season, although there is undeniable quality there, while Dele Alli’s performance is clearly hindered the most by the lack of Kane – Vincent Janssen’s game appears completely alien to the young Englishman, and this is in total contrast to the natural compatibility and understanding between Alli and Kane.
The positive that Spurs can take is that despite missing their best defender in Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen has been nothing short of sublime in his absence and Spurs’ defensive record remains fantastic. Another factor that doubtless contributed is that Hugo Lloris has, yet again, done wonders between the sticks for Spurs this season, but a reliance on a world-class goalkeeper is simply unhealthy and won’t last all season.
The biggest issue for Spurs is that they are easy to play against at the minute. Gone are the days when teams would tire after 70 minutes – such are the physical advances of players and the way they’re coached at the top level, that running opponents into the ground simply doesn’t work at the top level. The players capable of picking open defences are short on form. The one player who Spurs look to in times of need has been injured, but returns for the North London derby today, in Harry Kane.
The limited funds available in the transfer window – most of which was spent pathetically on Moussa Sissoko, a player who will not, based on his current form, ever justify a £30 million price tag in the current market – were not spent on players who provide game winning moments out of nothing.
There’s no superstar in the current Spurs squad and they’re being punished for that; working hard in games doesn’t win points. Of course, any side would struggle with their first choice striker and best defender injured and their attacking midfielders underperforming. Manchester City, for example, look much weaker without Sergio Aguero, and with Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan misfiring.
But truly big teams with title ambitions still find a way to win games. ‘Winning without playing well’ was so often a mantra associated with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, and of title winners of bygone years. It arguably still is; Leicester’s run last year is a testament to this – the streak of 1-0 wins in the back end of the season won them the league. This is what Spurs have to learn to do this season – they appear to have spent so long trying to win well, that they’ve forgotten how to win dirty. The sad truth is for Spurs fans, though, is that until they can do this, they just won’t win domestic or European titles.
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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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