5 Reasons for Spurs to Be Optimistic Ahead of the 2013-14 Season
The 2012-13 Premier League season is over and despite being very impressive for large parts of it, Spurs failed to qualify for next season's Champions League. It must be disappointing for everyone at the club, given how hard they worked to try to achieve their goal.
Even though there won't be any Champions League nights at White Hart Lane next year, there's plenty to be optimistic about. Gareth Bale (pictured with Andre Villas-Boas) had his most productive season to date and was almost talismanic at times. He scored vital goals at vital times, and he was often the difference between Spurs getting a result or not.
Join me as, in no particular order, I run through the five reasons that Tottenham fans have to be optimistic about next season.
They've Proved They Can Compete Against the Top 4 Sides
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Despite missing out on Champions League football, Spurs actually competed very well against the top four sides in England last season.
Spurs only earned a point from their two clashes with Chelsea, which is perhaps less than they deserved given how well they played. They picked up three points from two games against Arsenal, with Aaron Lennon (pictured) scoring the decisive winner in a 2-1 victory in March, and Manchester City. If it wasn't for a late goal from Edin Dzeko at the Etihad in November, Spurs might have come away with a point.
And then we come to their haul against the champions, Manchester United, when they picked up four points from two games. Very few teams have gone unbeaten against United in seasons gone by, so Spurs have plenty to be happy about.
Of course it doesn't offset the disappointment of missing out on the Champions League, but they've proved that they are at least a match for the best teams in England and some of Europe as well after their fine run in the Europa League.
If there's one thing that Spurs need to concentrate on next season, it's picking up more points from the smaller sides in the league. Dropping points against the likes of Fulham, Norwich and West Brom is what ultimately cost them this year, so if they can work on that over the summer, Champions League football might just wing it's way back to "the Lane".
They Will Add at Least Another Striker
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One thing that haunted Spurs last season was a lack of depth up front. With only Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor as their recognised strikers, Tottenham struggled at times, especially when both Adebayor and Defoe had spells out injured.
If you believe the latest rumours swirling around, Spurs are planning a clear-out in an attempt to secure Champions League football next season.
The latest rumour I stumbled across was courtesy of Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror, who suggested in an article yesterday that Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey would be moved on this summer, with the likes of Zenit St Petersburg's Hulk, Barcelona's David Villa, Lyon's Lisandro Lopez and Aston Villa's saviour Christian Benteke (pictured) all linked with moves to White Hart Lane.
In my opinion, Spurs need at least three top-class strikers to have a realistic shout of challenging for honours, and if they can add two strikers from that list to their squad, they will carry more of a threat, and it may just give them that little bit extra that they missed last year.
Andre Villas-Boas Has Shown What a Good Coach He Is
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When Andre Villas-Boas was confirmed as Harry Redknapp's successor last summer, it would be fair to say that there was a degree of uncertainty about the job he could do.
In the past, I've made no secret of the fact that I felt that AVB got a very raw deal at Chelsea. From the senior players to the chairman, I didn't feel that the talented young Portuguese got a fair shake of the stick.
His start at White Hart Lane was sticky to say the least as his new side picked up just two points from their first three games, but AVB masterminded wins over Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City last season, and his side played some excellent football at times. He's proven what a good coach he is.
There are still some things he needs to work on though. Perhaps deciding on a settled back four would help Spurs be more solid defensively, which is what every side challenging for honours needs.
They're pretty well covered in terms of midfielders, both holding and attacking, so the defence is something he might want to focus on during preseason.
The Foundations of the Squad Are Excellent
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Outside of the top four sides in the Premier League, Tottenham probably have the most solid foundation to their squad.
In goal, Hugo Lloris and Brad Friedel are both top-class 'keepers who are capable of performing at the highest level. Their defence includes the highly-rated Kyle Walker, Steven Caulker, the experienced (if erratic) William Gallas and the excellent Jan Vertonghen. Vertonghen had a tremendous first season and will only get better.
They have a wealth of options in midfield, with Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Sandro capable of breaking up the play to allow players like Moussa Dembele, Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Gareth Bale to drive forward and provide a goal threat for Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor.
There's no need for a major overhaul of the playing staff at White Hart Lane. By just adding one or two more bits of quality up front and more cover defensively, Spurs can kick on and be an even bigger threat next season.
It Looks Like Gareth Bale Is Staying...for Now at Least
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If you were to use one word to describe Gareth Bale's performances this season, it would be breathtaking. The Welshman has been almost talismanic at times and he scored a number of crucial goals as Spurs tried to qualify for the Champions League.
Bale has scored some spectacular goals this season, like both of his efforts against West Ham at the end of February, his goal at Swansea in March and his stunning effort against Sunderland this past week. Ultimately, they came up short, but Bale shone when his manager needed him to.
Does he have flaws? Yes. He goes to ground a little too easy for my liking sometimes, and perhaps that's why he doesn't get decisions from referees when he's actually fouled, as happened on Sunday against Sunderland when he was clearly fouled, but he was booked for diving.
It seemed like an unenviable task for Spurs to try to hang on to the man who was voted Player of the Year earlier this month without Champions League football, but the Evening Standard revealed yesterday that Bale is close to agreeing a new deal worth £130k per week.
If Spurs can hang on to their prized asset and sign a couple of quality players to take the weight off his shoulders, then he might stick around for the long-term. Either way, it looks like Bale is staying, at least for now, and that's good news for everyone connected with Tottenham.