In-depth look at Tottenham Hotspur’s season so far

When Spurs sacked Harry Redknapp on 13th June 2012, it came as a shock to the outside world of football. However, to the Spurs fans this wasn’t news. This sacking was a long time coming. Many, myself included, were not saddened to see Redknapp leave. Despite being thankful for the football played, the top 4 finishes secured and the players brought in. We had seen enough. It was clear that Redknapp could go no further with his team. The best evidence I can think of to prove he had ran out of ideas with what to do with his Spurs team was the bizarre decision to play Bale on the right and Lennon on the left. Whenever a manager has to listen to fans sing songs about where his players have to play, his time is limited and Redknapp was running on borrowed time. I think the moment Redknapp gave up on Spurs was on the 10th February this year, when asked about the situation surrounding John Terry and him losing the England captaincy, Redknapp, Spurs manager at the time, replied “You’re trying to get me out of the job before I’m even in it!”

Anyway, Redknapp was out and despite some horrendously off the mark criticisms of Daniel Levy, the man who made £1million on a player (Asmir Begovic) who never stepped inside White Hart Lane, Spurs went about their search for a new manager and almost a month after sacking Redknapp, appointed André Villas-Boas.

“I think Daniel Levy should be damned really. The Venky’s have taken so much stick for the way they’ve run Blackburn – but what’s the difference? I don’t think [players] will accept him (AVB). Blimey he was brought in to do a job to man management at Chelsea a very difficult situation and he struggled with it so then can he really keep Gareth Bale and Luka Modric happy? And keep them out the clutches of big foreign clubs?  I’m not convinced about it.”

During the summer Spurs signed Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Vertonghen, Emmanuel Adebayor (permanently), Mousa Dembélé, Hugo Lloris and Clint Dempsey.

Spurs sold Vedran Corluka, Sebastien Bassong, Niko Kranjcar, Steven Pienaar, Luka Modric and Rafa Van Der Vaart.

In the meantime, Gareth Bale, Steven Caulker, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe all committed their long-term futures to the club

Cast your minds back to the 1st September 2012, Spurs just drew 1-1 against Norwich, for the 3rd consecutive game lost the points by conceding in the last 15minutes and had failed to win any of their first 3 games. To top it all off, a disappointing deadline day ended up with a well-documented failed pursuit of Joao Moutinho, who stayed at Porto.

“AVB hasn’t got a clue”

“Why did we hire this muppet”?

“No wonder Chelsea got rid of him”

“Levy, what have you done to our club”

“Spurs are going down”

“If Levy is smart he should be on his hands and knees at Redknapp’s door right now”

”These days you are getting 70-page dossiers on this and that. Bull**** can baffle brains at times.”

“Go back to licking Mourinho’s balls”

Not the best start to AVB’s career.

Then there was the Lloris debacle. Spurs signed France no. 1 and captain Hugo Lloris in the summer transfer window (2012) and after a brilliant performance against Norwich, AVB found himself in an impossible situation.

Option 1) Play Lloris and be slaughtered for dropping Friedel.

Option 2) Play Friedel and be slaughtered for not playing the French no.1

AVB chose option 2 and Brad Friedel became Spurs’ Premier League keeper and Lloris had the surprisingly bright yellow jersey for Europa League games. As expected, AVB received the previously mentioned slaughtering from the media and his man-management was called into question in England and even across the Channel in France.

On the 9th of September, during the international break, the ever pro-Spurs Mirror journalist, John Cross wrote an article describing this scene as “AVB’s latest David Brent moment” The only sense in this article, believe it or not, comes from incumbent Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger

“Brad Friedel saved Villas-Boas [in the league game against Norwich] and he owes him a form of recognition for saving the match – but it doesn’t mean he won’t play Hugo Lloris.” The Mirror.

On the 15th of September on the eve of AVB’s 4th game in charge of Spurs an article was published in The People. It claimed that AVB had 3 games to save his job. In this article.

The Mirror

Here it is, my favourite article about AVB and his time in charge of Spurs, so far. During this week, AVB was quizzed about the ongoing Lloris/Friedel situation and he found one particular journalist to pick on.

However, that was not the main story of the week. On the morning of the Man. United game, a certain Paul Jiggins of The Sun wrote an article on how “Unhappy Tottenham stars held showdown talks with Andre Villas-Boas over his training and tactics.”

The Sun

Arguably AVB’s finest moment in his first 5 months in charge of Tottenham came at Old Trafford, in the final of his 3 games to save his job and 3rd win. I could bore you with the fact that it had been 23 years since a Gary Lineker goal gave Tottenham their most recent victory at Old Trafford, but I’m sure you already know that.

Up to this point, despite initial doubts, Jermain Defoe had made a great start to the season (4 goals in 5 games). However, it was not a typical Jermain performance that saw how he had quickly grew as a player under AVB. For the first goal, Jermain went to fill the gap left by Rafael and drew Ferdinand towards him, this provided space for Vertonghen to exploit and give Tottenham the lead. There was similar movement for the second goal, where he saw Bale run at Ferdinand, here he took Evans out the game with a similar run and Spurs were two up. Spurs managed to survive a second-half onslaught and were able to take home all three points.

By the time AVB faced his former club Chelsea, Spurs had picked themselves up after a difficult start to the season. We went into the game 4 wins in 4, unbeaten in the Europa League and through to the 4th round of the Capital One Cup. However, after two last-minute drop outs from two of our most important players (Bale and Dembélé) we found ourselves 1-0 down at half time after a thumping Cahill volley. After a tremendous start to the second half we quickly found ourselves 2-1 up. Unfortunately, this led to one of the major weaknesses in the squad being exploited. A lack of leadership. As Chelsea pressed and pressed, with Mata, Hazard and Oscar playing some outstanding football, no one seemed able to slow the game down and take charge for Spurs. This ended up a disappointing 4-2 loss.

The Chelsea loss took a lot of the Spurs side; we were knocked out the Capital One Cup and lost at home to Wigan, away to Man City and worst of all, another thumping at the Emirates.

Despite, on paper, it looking like our season was on the verge of collapse. Spurs managed to show some brilliant mental strength and went on a run of 5 wins in 7 (West Ham, Liverpool, Fulham, Swansea and Aston Villa). And that’s where we are now; Boxing Day 2012, 4th in the league, last 32 of the Europa League. A very encouraging start, haven’t played anywhere near our best, have been torn apart by injuries and we are 3rd.

Tottenham Spine 2011-12                             Tottenham Spine 2012-13

 

Friedel                                                             Lloris

King Kaboul                                                    Caulker Gallas

Parker Modric                                                 Sandro Dembele

VDV                                                                 Dempsey

Adebayor                                                        Defoe

However, this season has still been far from perfect. We have put in very few performances of high quality from start to finish. There is a desperate lack of squad depth, we have started to play with two strikers, unfortunately, there are only two strikers in our first team squad, an issue that must be addressed. Also, there is a big lack of creativity in our team. When Mousa Dembélé was injured we went on a run of 2 wins in 6, not good enough. We need to strengthen in January in these two areas, something we have failed to do over recent years. This squad, although promising, is far from the finished article and we must strengthen in January to cement a top-4 place.

Hugo Lloris – after a difficult start to his Spurs career, the French captain has come into the team recently and looks to have cemented his place in the Spurs team, whilst Friedel, the ever-professional has accepted his role as second choice and signed a new contract probably with a coaching side to it. Poor man-management.

Jan Vertonghen – what an animal this man is. Spent the majority of the season out at left-back and despite showing huge class going forward, the trickier wingers have been a real problem for him as he has admitted. It is clear that he is a centre-back and it helps the team much more when he plays there.

Aaron Lennon – this has been by far his best season as a Spurs player. After years of frustration fearing he would be a player ‘what could have been’?  He has shown far more maturity this season than previously, he makes far more intelligent runs, takes on fullbacks and is a massive help defensively.

AVB & Steffen Freund – these two make quite the pair in the dugout. I love the desire and passion they show for the club, although most of the supporters haven’t taken to AVB, he has taken to the club. It is clear how much he wants to succeed at Spurs, even if it is just to spite Chelsea. With AVB it is fantastic to have a manager with class and dignity. The respect he shows the supporters is amazing. When asked about booing, he replied “The fans have the right to everything in my opinion. They are the ones who breathe the biggest passion for the football club, they are the essence and they breathe the values of the football club.” Compare that to Harry Redknapp “Maybe they want more but they don’t have any brains, they don’t understand.”

Furthermore, one of the best aspects of AVB’s short tenure at Spurs how he actually coaches,

William Gallas: “So we’ve been working very hard and we’ve had some meetings to look at the video to see what is good and bad, and against Swansea it was good to keep a clean sheet.”

Sandro: “I am always aware what is going on during the game. I can see gaps here or somebody’s doing something wrong there, so now I feel more confident.”

Kyle Walker: “He (AVB) is very tactically aware and he has helped me with my game in his time here. The training sessions are different every time depending on who we are playing and he has helped me with my game.”

Clint Dempsey: “I’ve been looking at videos with the manager and just trying to figure out a way to make an impact and help the team.”

Perspective:

New manager, new coaching staff, new style of football and new players.

Most importantly same position (4th)