Saturday 31st August 2013, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all changed managers, Liverpool’s best player, Luis Suarez was quoted on a number of occasions saying he wants to leave Liverpool, Arsenal sold thousands of players and replaced them with a crocked defensive midfielder, Matheiu Flamini and young, unheard of forward Yaya Sanogo. So many negatives and transitions for all of the teams challenging for the top four, accept for one side, Tottenham Hotspur.
This was our season. Heavy investment was finally spent, bringing depth and strength to our typically weak side and lack of depth. Finally we’d signed a fantastic prolific striker in Robert Soldado; we’d kept key players Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and star man Gareth Bale. Whilst almost trimming off weak players such as Tom Huddlestone and William Gallas, amongst others. Then, one day later, and we all saw signs of events to come. Following a very disappointing 1-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates, the club announced the sales of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, which lead to a chain reaction of events which led to Mesut Ozil joining Arsenal. At 11 o’clock on transfer deadline day, following the Euphoria of the summer, every Tottenham fan felt a strange sense of de ja vu, as they realised things aren’t as rosy as first thought.
How true these feelings where, fast forward five and a half months, manager Andre Villas Boas has been fired, replaced by unqualified, Tim Sherwood, who admittedly initially had a fantastic period, until recently where his tactically naivety has shown, leading to the return of more disappointing results, including a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea and 3-1 loss to Benfica coming in a matter of five days apart. All of our worst fears have come true. Tottenham have lost their soul and identity.
Do we blame Tim Sherwood? Personally, I work as a line chef currently and if my manager approached me and offered me the role as Kitchen Co-ordinator, at a drastically higher rate of pay than what I have currently, would I turn it down because I’m not qualified? No. Nobody would. Sherwood has come in, knowing that if he doesn’t make an impact he’d be out in the summer, therefore why would he develop anything long term in the squad?
The one manager who I respect far more than any other in the league is Brendan Rodgers. He introduced a philosophy at Liverpool and stuck to it. Yes it didn’t work during his first season, but now he’s reaping the rewards. This is what we needs, but Rodgers knew he’d be in charge for the next five years. Sherwood doesn’t have this. Regardless of what happens this season, he will be gone in the summer, so this whole period in charge of Tottenham is a way for him to show his worth to the Fulham’s and Leeds of the world, who could appoint him next year.
To do this, Sherwood has made rather radical decisions. During the last to Benfica, young Harry Kane started at #10 behind Emmanuel Adebayor, only his second or third start of the season. If we’d won, it’d be mainly due to that decision, but we lost, so we didn’t see that. We’ve seen so many of these decisions, playing Dembele at right wing, Bentaleb starting against Manchester City, Kyle Naughton being used as a footballer, the list goes on. These tactics are purely for Sherwood to make a stamp on the club and the team.
Do we blame the players? Partially. In modern day football, footballers are far too protected. They are heavily paid men. They paid these thousands of pounds weekly, why therefore are they required to constantly be told how to do their job? I don’t have that, if I didn’t perform, I’d be fired. Footballers are too protected, and when you have Jan Vertonghen mope around the pitch, saying he may leave, then expect us all to cry about him, fine. Leave then, or get behind the club, go out on the pitch and perform. You’re paid enough.
Literally in our group of twenty six first team players, I have counted seven players who I personally don’t think are to blame for anything this season. Kyle Walker is one of very few players in our squad who’s got better this season. Younes Kaboul has only just come back from two years ruined by injuries and is instantly expected to come in and perform for 90 minutes against the biggest sides in the world twice a week? Wake up. Christian Eriksen is the one player who we can build our side around, and has demonstrated versatility by playing behind a forward, in the middle of four or wide left. Sandro has come out and said we need to play better, told the fans he wants us to improve and has apologised for performances, more players must do this. Bentaleb has been given an opportunity to play in the first team and has played well. Yet has received critism from fans, where he has dropped off recently. He’s literally just started playing with the first team, which is tyring, so is clearly going to drop off. Michael Dawson receives a lot of critism for his lack of ability, but his heart and determination is matched by none at the club. Erik Lamela hasn’t been given a chance to show his worth yet due to injury and getting used to the league.
And finally, Hugo Lloris. He gets so under rated by other fans and pundits, purely because of the amount of time he’s let down by the players in front of him. He is a phenomenal goalkeeper, easily one of the best in the league and pushing for the same in the world. The amount of times he pulled off outstanding saves, yet doesn’t receive plaudits is a disgrace. He’s the one player who I most desperately don’t want to leave the club, as I think he’d leave the biggest hole, yet still I wouldn’t blame him for leaving.
Over all, it appears many have already written off our chances this season. 3-1 down going away to Benfica in the Europa League and four points off fourth place in the premier league, with games against Arsenal and Liverpool coming up. But chins up everyone, the futures bright, the futures orange.