Another week, another defeat for Tottenham Hotspur. Disappointment seems to be in abundance at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham fell to their sixth defeat of this still young season this weekend, losing 2-1 to Premier League newcomers Stoke City. After eight games, Tottenham have only scraped together two draws and are tied with Middlesbrough for the worst goal differential in the Premiership. They remain the only team in the Premier League without a win.
Stoke City took the lead through a Danny Higginbotham penalty kick, awarded after Spurs defender Gareth Bale was shown a red card. Spurs found themselves down a goal and a man after only 19 minutes and leaving with even a single point began to look like a tall order.
The North Londoners equalized just six minutes later on a Darren Bent goal. Some hope was restored to Spurs but it wouldn't last. Rory Delap, known for his long throws, tapped in what would prove to be the game-winner a mere eight minutes into the second half. Spurs were once again down a goal and a man.
Stoke almost grabbed a third goal when Ricardo Fuller smashed a penalty attempt off of both uprights. The foul leading to the penalty resulted in Tottenham being cut down to nine men as Michael Dawson was shown the door.
Things were even worse for Spurs than finishing a game down 2-1 and with nine men would imply. Croatian international defender Vedran Corluka was knocked out with a fairly serious-looking injury after colliding with Tottenham goalkeeper Gomes twice. He ended up being stretchered off and taken directly to a hospital.
With a squad that's already dangerously thin, Tottenham can ill-afford to lose a defender of Corluka's quality. Even more troubling is Tottenham's continued inability to find success anywhere on the pitch. Spurs' offense has been positively anemic, managing only five goals in their eight games. Their defense has allowed more than a goal per game as well which makes it nearly impossible for a struggling offense to find points.
About a month ago, I wondered if it was time for Tottenham to hit the panic button. The general consensus seemed to be that they would hit their stride after a few more games and start to string together some results. They've since suffered three more losses and haven't been able to get a single point in a month.
Unfortunately for Tottenham, there are only a finite number of games in which to turn this mess around. Their next four matches will get quite difficult, with Bolton, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City hoping to add to Spurs' misery. The one positive for Spurs fans so far is that the club is very much alive in the UEFA Cup.
In a way, their small taste of success in the UEFA Cup makes their start to the domestic season all the more puzzling. Tottenham has taken four points from a Wisla Krakow team that is almost assuredly better than some of the clubs that Spurs is struggling with domestically.
One theory is that Juande Ramos' tactics are better suited to European competition than domestic competition. He had a great deal of success at both levels with Sevilla, but La Liga has different physical demands than the Premier League. Ramos is definitely a capable and qualified manager but his style might not be suited to the English league. Again, it's just a theory.
Whatever the reason for Tottenham's struggles, they need to find a solution sooner rather than later. No matter how patient a fan base is, struggling through an entire season will cause dissension among fans. Chairmen and owners across the Premier League have demonstrated itchy trigger fingers in recent seasons so Ramos may find his job in jeopardy if Spurs remain in this position through the midway point of the season.
We're two months into the season, and I'll pose the question again. Do Tottenham have reason to panic?