After a poor start to the season, losses to both Manchester teams in the first two games, Tottenham were able to get their season back on track, and up until the end of February it looked like a very promising season for Tottenham, despite elimination from the Europa league. After thumping Newcastle 5-0 at home, it has been very much downhill from there. At the Christmas stage of the season most people had predicted that Tottenham had that third premier league place nailed on and would surely remain in the top four come the end of the season. But how does a team go from looking certain to achieving a third place finish and a genuine chance at an F.A. Cup final to finishing the season with only a Europa League place. Winning the F.A. Cup along with a champions league finish would be an ideal season for Redknapp and Tottenham and would be the perfect reward for all of Redknapp’s hard work since arriving at White Hart Lane. Here is a look at some of the things that has hindered Tottenham’s performance of late.
A Poor January Transfer Window and Tax Evasion Case
The January transfer window didn’t exactly help strengthen the Tottenham team. Out went Pavlyuchenko, Pienaar, Bassong and Corluka and in came Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen. Saha had been in terrible form for Everton and rarely looked on improving or scoring goals, whilst an injury prone Nelsen is surely no better cover than Bassong at centre back or Corulka at right back. With Ledley King already being unable to play week in week out, surely bringing Nelsen in and shipping Bassong out is not the smartest move ‘Arry has ever made. But this doesn’t really hinder Redknapp’s style of picking the best XI week in week out without rotating the team much.
Also, something which may have hindered Tottenham’s recent dip in form could be Harry’s court case surrounding tax evasion with his close friend Milan Mandaric which came to light and was finalised in February. Although both men were found not guilty, the whole situation could have had an effect on the squad. Harry missed two weeks of training during the case and was unable to attend a goalless draw against Liverpool.
This was Michael Dawson view on the manager missing: ‘To be honest, it’s been a bit odd without him being there at training,’ said Dawson. ‘He’s the manager and normally every day when you come in he’s there and you work on things. So when you go through a spell when he’s not there it’s going to feel strange, isn’t it? But the rest of the coaching team have kept our heads on it and we’re professional.’ This shows that it obviously had an effect on the players and the drop in form could be something to do with this.
Tottenham’s Form since February
Since a draw with Liverpool in February, Tottenham have played ten premier league games. From these they have picked up nine points with the only wins coming against Newcastle and Swansea at home. They have drawn against Stoke, Chelsea and Sunderland, but have lost to Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Norwich and London rivals and relegation candidates Q.P.R. Tottenham will have looked at the games against Norwich, Q.P.R, Stoke, Sunderland and Everton with a view to getting at least ten points on the board. In doing this, it surely would have helped to cement that third place finish. You can see from the table below that this is hardly champion’s league form, it’s something that needs improvement quickly if they hope to remain in the running for that prized top four finish.
This, alongside a 5-1 thumping by Chelsea, has turned the Tottenham team’s season on its head, with them looking likely to finish trophy less with only the Europa league to look forward to next season. There will be major work to be done over the summer for Spurs if they want to look like challenging the top four again.
Redknapp the New England Manager
Fabio Capello’s spat with the F.A led to his resignation and the England post being vacant for Euro 2012. With Stuart Pearce taking charge of a friendly against Holland, there was speculation that he may be appointed by the F.A, but with him taking control of the Team GB for the Olympics, this is looking highly unlikely. All this speculation has pointed towards Harry Redknapp as the favourite for the job. This is another thing which could be hindering the Tottenham squad’s recent form as the consistent speculation into Harry being linked away to the current England manager’s job means that him taking the post would leave Tottenham manager-less. This has dragged on long enough and is getting tedious to watch and is something which surely is an annoyance to the Tottenham fans.
Harry needs to make up his mind as this is doing Tottenham and England no favors. He has always spoken positively about the England managerial position and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he was to take charge for Euro 2012. But the main focus should be on sorting out his priorities and putting all his effort into resurrecting Tottenham’s season.
Coming out and declaring he is staying at Tottenham will get the fans back on side and surely get rid of recent reports of rifts between players and the manager. With three games to go, Tottenham have to play Bolton, Villa and Fulham. Playing relegation candidates at this stage of the season will always be tough but Tottenham have the players and class to see off these teams and end the season with four wins. This will keep hopes alive of finishing fourth above Newcastle who have to face Chelsea, Man. City and Everton. Some tough looking fixtures and I’m sure if Harry decides to stay and focus on these games then Tottenham’s season could be re-ignited and champion’s league football could be on the cards next season.
Published with permission from Foot and Ball.