Tottenham: 10 Bold Predictions for Spurs Next Season
I don't think there's any argument that Tottenham Hotspur has improved over the last few years.
Sure, the second half of the season is one Spurs fans would love—and I mean love—to have back. But are we so quick to remember when a top-four or a top-five finish was considered miraculous for Tottenham?
As recently as 2008, Spurs finished 11th in the league table.
After that pitiful season, on came Harry Redknapp and with the former Portsmouth manager came a revolution of sorts. The club has improved in nearly all aspects of the game—scoring more goals and collecting talent from all over the world.
This year, fans in north London had every reason to believe that their Spurs could overtake the Manchester twins and win a title. But a collapse in February took with it any title hopes fans held.
Tottenham will finish this season amongst the top of the Premier League. Will it be fifth? Fourth? Only the last few weeks will tell. But they're setting themselves up for a beautiful season next year and that much I'm sure of.
So, without further ado, I give you 10 of the boldest predictions this side of White Hart Lane for Spurs' 2012-13 season.
Friedel Still Between the Posts...
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Thirty-three appearances and 12 clean sheets is nothing to sneeze at, especially in the top tier of English football. How much more so should this kind of stat line be applauded considering it's been created by a goalkeeper in Brad Friedel who was born when Richard Nixon was president?
The 40-year-old American has shown he's worth a contract extension at Tottenham and will get it.
...Bale Stays at Wing...
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Gareth Bale might leave White Hart Lane. After all, who hasn't the 22-year-old Welsh wonderboy been linked with?
MirrorFootball.co.uk reported, "Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola is planning a major shake-up to help launch a full-scale attempt to sign Gareth Bale this summer."
My prediction? Those rumors are a smokescreen from opponents hoping to increase Bale's market value thereby forcing Tottenham to pay him more money than it would had the smokescreen not been put up. I predict that Spurs' management is making a run at a league title in the next two years and they'll bite the bullet of a heavy contract so as to keep the speedy winger.
...Adebayor Still at Forward...
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This is less a prediction and more a result of two things: Adebayor has told The Sun that he wants to stay at White Hart Lane and ESPN reported that Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has said there's little chance of the Togolese international coming back to Etihad.
He's suffered a bit of inconsistency this season, but he's still one of the best hold-up strikers in the league. If he can learn how to get teammates to set him up while he's in the air, it'll be gold for Tottenham next season.
Adebayor will get Daniel Levy to pay up, and the Tottenham brass won't mind one bit.
...and Modric Leaves White Hart Lane
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According to the latest ESPN report, "[Luka] Modric publicly stated his desire to move to west London" implying a move to Chelsea is imminent.
Add to that the fact that Modric's agent, Slaven Bilic, said that "in a few months time other clubs will come again for [Modric]" and you've got a case where Tottenham will have to choose between Bale and Modric.
I predict they go with Bale.
Tottenham Starts Season in Champions League...
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It's quite the understatement to say that Tottenham fans wish they could have their FA Cup semifinal match against Chelsea back. The Spurs lost in typical imploding fashion, dropping the game 5-1 to the Blues thanks in large part to three goals in the final 13 minutes.
But getting kicked out of the FA Cup may be a blessing in disguise.
With nothing left to focus on except for league fixtures, Tottenham can focus on securing a top-four finish and earn a place in next season's Champions League—and earn a place they will.
With only five matches remaining against "powerhouse" opponents Queens Park Rangers, Bolton, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Fulham, finishing the season on a high note (and making it into next season's Champions League) shouldn't be too terribly difficult.
...with Jose Mourinho as Manager
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It's nearly a foregone conclusion that Redknapp will be managing the Three Lions come this summer, but who will replace the former Portsmouth man?
Enter Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid's current manager.
The Special One expressed interest in coming back to England and with Chelsea having more and more reason to keep caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo, there's no stronger Premier League club in need of a manager. Mourinho will relish the opportunity to come to London where the pockets are deep and a strong roster is already established.
Eden Hazard Comes Alive Next Spring
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Oh, did I forget to mention that Tottenham snagged Eden Hazard the previous summer? Let's call the signing of what Daily Mail is calling Spurs' "leading summer transfer [target]" a bonus prediction and move on.
Hazard will get plenty of playing time with Tottenham early in the season, but undoubtedly he will struggle. Few making the jump from Ligue 1 to the Premier League don't struggle—Spurs' striker Louis Saha being one exception as he flourished at Fulham when he made the jump from FC Metz in 2000.
Hazard, whose rise over the past couple of years has been meteoric, will make the transition but that it'll take a few months to see the dividends. Playing against higher competition for a new manager installing new tactics will make for a seemingly rocky transition, but the Lille star is a defender's nightmare with his pace, athleticism and size—Hazard is just 5'7" and has a low center of gravity that will allow him to stay on his feet with relative ease.
The 21-year-old Belgian midfielder will catch fire in the second half of the season when he has some time to learn how to link up with Adebayor.
Adebayor Leads Team in Goals
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Adebayor having the most goals on the team isn't the boldest of predictions, which is why I'm going so far as to say he'll net 25 scores—the most of any Spurs player since Jurgen Klinsmann in 1995.
With a full offseason to work with attacking partners Jermain Defoe and Louis Saha and dozens of matches worth of film to study, Adebayor will come alive next season, especially in the spring of 2013.
Spurs' Defense Allow Less Than 40 Goals
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It may be completely under the radar, but Tottenham's defense is improving dramatically.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, with his pace and penchant for supporting Bale along the left sideline, has become the long-term fixture at left-back. Younes Kaboul is developing into one of the best centre-backs in the game. Ledley King, like Friedel, is still winning the tug-of-war against Father Time. Kyle Walker, despite a dip in form in the last two months, showed he has potential to not only captain Spurs' defense, but England's as well.
They've only given up 38 goals through 33 matches so far this season, and with all the shuffling that's taken place in the back line, that's a miracle.
I predict all four will be starting next season and that a proper offseason together will do wonders.
Tottenham Doesn't Win the Title
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If Eden Hazard comes to north London and most of this year's players stay, the lads of White Hart Lane will be the sexy pick for next year's league title.
Which is why this is a bold prediction.
Tottenham is a great club that is moving in the right direction. They'll be making more money with an appearance in next season's Champions League and their scouting staff is identifying good, young players all over the world (i.e. Ryan Nelsen). But they're not an elite club in England yet.
With a few more Champions League appearances, more cash flow and a stronger roster, they'll be title contenders. But their dip in form the second half of the season showed just how inconsistent Spurs can be and that they aren't ready to challenge for the Premier League.
However, next season, as they did this season, they'll come very, very close.
But these are my bold predictions for Tottenham next season. Let me know which ones I missed by commenting below!