Tottenham Hotspur: Have They Really Had as Great a Season as Most People Think?
Most football fans who have followed the North-Londoners this season will say that they have had an excellent season. I, however, beg to differ.
Notwithstanding their European venture (where, admittedly they have successfully punched above their own weight), the Lilywhites have had a rather ordinary season.
Their showing in the two domestic cup competitions was disillusioning for the fans who had high hopes for the club this season. A 4-1 loss to Arsenal (Yes, the very same Arsenal that can lose 3-1 to Stoke) in the Carling Cup in September was the first sign of capitulation, as conceding two penalties to your bitter rivals in the space of four minutes is just not acceptable at the level Spurs are aiming to compete (can you believe they did it again this weekend against relegation threatened Blackpool). This exit from the Carling Cup might have been due to having one eye on a Champions League fixture in a week's time.
And that really is pretty much the reason for their sub-par domestic season. The Champions League has been as much a bane as a boon for Spurs as they have neglected other competitions in order to conquer Europe (or at least in order to try and do so).
Even in the Premier League they have performed very poorly, and the fact that they have failed to pick up more than one point from two games against all of the bottom three (West Ham, Wigan, Blackpool) underlines just how abysmal they have been in England this season. Too many draws that should have been wins have cost them dearly.
Yet on the other hand they have bordered between decent and good when playing the big teams, especially in the Champions League. It's almost as if Harry Redknapp has been telling his boys, "Forget about the small games lads, we don't need to prove ourselves against the small fish, we're playing with the big boys now." Trust me, there is no other reasonable explanation for their performances this season.
Some of the blame (or rather a lot of the blame) certainly lies on the shoulders of the front three, with Crouch, Pavlyuchenko and Defoe all collectively netting a measly 16 goals. Talk about needing a 20 goal a season striker! No wonder they have failed to put lesser teams to the sword.
More convincing proof that all was not well at White Hart Lane arrived at the end of January in the form of a 4-0 drubbing by fellow Londoners Fulham that knocked them out of the FA Cup in only the fourth round. Since Premier League teams join the competition as late as the third round, this means they were sent packing in their second match itself.
So it is hardly surprising that Spurs have been off the pace in the race for fourth, and their staying in the race until so late is more due to Man City's occasional poor results than their own meritorious ones.
In fact, considering the race for fourth, it is quite fitting that a Peter Crouch goal at Eastlands settled it last year, and so it has been this time around too.
For most Tottenham fans, this has been the season where they have announced themselves in Europe, but for me it has been the season where they have lost themselves in England!
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