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Tottenham 2 Watford 0 – Have Spurs reached their ceiling?

It seems odd that there are concerns being raised about the future of this Tottenham side after winning a game of Premier League football 2-0. And yet concerns have been raised that Pochettino and his men might be nearing the ceiling of their potential, and their quest to join Europe’s elite. Are these concerns justified?

Performances

Yes it is true, Spurs have not been at their best this year. But wait, is it? They dismantled Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley, did similar to Borussia Dortmund, beat Chelsea away from home and have seen positive results against an emphatic Liverpool side.

Spurs are likely to finish 4th in the league, maybe even 3rd. Narrowly lost out in the Champions League Round of 16 to an experienced Juventus side and made the semi-final of the FA Cup Semi-Final where Pochettino was unlucky to be bettered by a street-wise Jose Mourinho.

It seems that Spurs have become victims of their own success. Offer those outcomes to Spurs fans at pretty much anytime in the last half a century and they’d be jumping for joy. The fact people are disappointed by Tottenham’s performance even though they have won a game 2-0 just goes to show the level of expectation on the club.

It’s not just the team as a whole that have suffered from these sky high expectations, it’s the players too. Yes Dele Alli hasn’t been at his unplayable best of the previous two seasons. But he has still recorded 14 goals and 14 assists in 50 appearneces (whoscored.com) in all competitions this season. That is highly commendable for a 22 year old Englishman who was playing League One football 3 years ago.

Similarly Harry Kane is currently under scrutiny for his apparent poor goal scoring form. In 47 appearances this season Kane has netted on 38 occasions and chipped in with 4 assists. That’s 42 goals he’s directly contributed to in 47 appearances… give the guy a break! Indeed a break might be what the doctor ordered for Kane, figuratively and literally.

These types of stats are simply phenomenal for players their age. Similarly, Tottenham’s performances have been pretty close to that accolade as well considering their wage budget and measly net transfer spend.

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“But Tottenham need to win a trophy”, “They have to win something”, “They’re not a good side until they win something”… Am I the only one who’s bored to death of hearing this rubbish.

While the rate of progress on the pitch might slowed this year, there are reasons for this. Firstly, the pitch at Wembley has undoubtedly forced Spurs to change the way they play, no longer able hunt opposition possession like hyenas on a deer hunt, Tottenham’s ability to score from turnovers has been hampered massively.

Additionally, two of Spurs’ most potent attacking weapons of the last few seasons have either left for pastures new (Kyle Walker), or been so crippled that they have barely crossed the white line (Danny Rose).

Toby Alderweireld, touted as one of the best Centre Backs in world football, has similarly been immobilised for much of the season, and with recent transfer speculation Pochettino has seemingly decided, right or wrong, to keep him out of the regular first team picture. While Davinson Sanchez has been competent, he is no Aldeweireld yet. Spurs’s back line this season has seen a 75% change in personnel, that is going to make things more difficult.

But this brings me on to my next point, and what might actually be the downfall of this Spurs side…

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Player retention

It seems to me, from what all the pundits are saying, that the players at Spurs have begun to think that they deserve to win trophies. Much of the rhetoric regarding Spurs’ need to win trophies is actually born out of many people’s desire to see Spurs continue to grow. They are the antidote to a world suffering from an explosion of cash riches, Tottenham seem to be a throwback to the good ol’ days, of creating a team over a number of years and watching them grow into world beaters.

I really don’t think pundits are being malicious when they say Spurs need to win trophies to continue growing, minus Ian Wright. I think they are urging Spurs to win something in order to retain their prised assets, and in order to continue growing into a top team.

However the atmosphere coming out of Tottenham at the moment is concerning, and this is why people are worried.

The players on the pitch seem defeated, as if they have started to accept that the dream is not going to become reality, that if they really want to become the best players in the world they are going to have to leave.

Out the door this summer is almost certainly Toby Alderwiereld, Danny Rose likely to follow. Moussa Dembele too is apparently up for sale. It is not too hard to imagine the likes of Christian Eriksen, if he were to be asked, to move to a Barcelona or a Bayern Munich. I wouldn’t blame him really, this year he has been Spurs’ most reliable and productive player.

And most worrying of all for Spurs fans, is Pochettino becoming frustrated by Spurs’ like of financial muscle? “With me or another” became a pretty infamous statement overnight. I wonder how much meaning there is behind it if any. Does Pochettino see a near future away from Spurs? Has he lost confidence in his ability to take Spurs all the way to the top? Who knows, but it’s not something you say when you’re content in your position.

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The Future

So have Spurs reached their ceiling? Well here’s some points I’d briefly like to make.

  • Injuries and playing home games away from home have made this an extremely difficult season for Spurs
  • Star players such as Kane and Dele, while being accused of underperforming, have still recorded very strong stats this season
  • Yes the players are a bit down after falling out of the Champions League and FA Cup, why is this surprising?
  • Finally a refresh of Spurs’ squad might be exactly what is needed to ignite new momentum into a team that still has so much potential.

I don’t think Tottenham have reached their ceiling, I don’t think they are even remotely close. It’s been a difficult season, with expectations of a trophy underpinning peoples disappointment. But actually, there has been so much positive about this season in so many ways. The fact players like Dele have managed to produce solid returns while clearly not being at his best shows the potential available.

New season, new stadium, new players, new energy. Spurs did a job this year, remained competitive and kept their place in the Champions league (well minus a total collapse from here on in…). They will hold on to their most important players and it seems they are looking to add to the squad.

There’s still a long long way to go for this Spurs side. As the old saying goes, it’s not over ’till the fat lady sings, I don’t think she’s even warming up yet.

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Written By Chris Wyles

 

 

 

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