Tottenham started 2012 in 3rd place and consolidated their position with two more home wins. The success over Everton took them joint second, level on points with Manchester United and only three behind eventual Champions, City. That was as “good as it got” with media suggestions of Spurs as “contenders for the title” being short lived as a home draw with Wolves followed. More disappointment as a last minute penalty was conceded at City, moments after missing a chance to snatch victory. Spurs recovered to defeat Wigan at White Hart Lane on the last day of the month.
Harry Redknapp spoke after the Everton match on suggestions of Spurs as genuine title contenders,
“We’re up there. Who knows? Nothing’s impossible, you have to keep believing and apart from that I enjoy the way we play.”
A hard earned scoreless draw at Anfield with Scott Parker outstanding preceded two events on 8th February that shaped Tottenham’s season. Harry Redknapp was cleared in his court case and later the same day Fabio Capello resigned as England manager with Redknapp immediately installed as the media’s favourite. An amazing performance from Emmanuel Adebayor (1 goal plus 4 assists) in the 5 – 0 defeat of Newcastle lifted the spirits as did a two goal lead at the Emirates after 35 minutes. At that point Spurs were, in theory, 13 points ahead of Arsenal. Conceding two goals in three minutes before half-time and three more in the second half was a chastening experience with the gap reduced to 7 points.
Harry Redknapp commenting on the England manager’s role.
“I’ve not even thought about it. I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got a big game on Saturday for Tottenham. Tottenham is my focus ….”
A dramatic loss of form and confidence with only two points from four games saw Spurs drop to fourth, three points behind Arsenal, although they had a match in hand. A home defeat to Manchester United was followed by a single goal loss at Goodison Park. Spurs’ FA Cup 6th Round tie was abandoned when Fabrice Muanba collapsed having suffered a cardiac arrest. Fans watched and prayed as doctors and paramedics worked to resuscitate him. Taken to hospital, football united and there was great relief and joy when Fabrice later recovered. In the League it needed a last minute equaliser from Van der Vaart to rescue a point against Stoke and then followed a scoreless draw at Chelsea which deserved to be a win. Spurs defeated Bolton in the re-arranged Cup tie.
Tottenham won at home to Swansea but the hoped for recovery didn’t materialise as Spurs struggled to breakdown a defensive minded Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Two poor performances at home to Norwich and at QPR saw Tottenham in 5th with a gap of six points to Arsenal in 3rd place. Relegated Blackburn provided some solace at the end of the month as Spurs won only their second match since mid-February. Spurs had progressed to the FA Cup semi-final but it only brought additional pain as Chelsea benefited from the award of a goal that didn’t cross the line and went on to win 5 – 1.
The Tottenham fans who witnessed the defeat at Queen’s Park Rangers were annoyed at Redknapp playing Gareth Bale on the right. Much to the manager’s annoyance they sang continually,
“Gareth Bale, he plays on the left.”
The long delayed appointment of the England manager was announced on the first day of the month. Roy Hodgson was the choice but the speculation surrounding Redknapp had greatly damaged Tottenham’s season. A late revival needed Spurs to win their final three matches to secure third place. Two wins and a draw were insufficient with the points dropped at Villa Park proving crucial. A goal down and down to ten men against Villa who were fearing relegation, Spurs equalised with just under thirty minutes to play. Harry Redknapp settled for a point rather than go for the three points. Spurs finished fourth, qualifying for the Champions League, but with Chelsea reaching the Final Spurs were not guaranteed their place. Chelsea’s eventual success relegated Spurs to the Europa League.
Redknapp on the Champions League Final.
“My allegiances are to Tottenham only. I want to see us in the Champions League again next year. I’m not going because Chelsea are in it. It will be hard but it would be worse watching it at home on TV.”
Early June brought the announcement of the worst kept secret, that Harry Redknapp would be leaving Tottenham. There followed three weeks of speculation on who would succeed him with many names suggested.
Redknapp on leaving Spurs.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs and am proud of my achievements. I have had a fantastic four years with the club, at times the football has been breathtaking. I am sad to be leaving but wish to thank the players, staff and fans for their terrific support during my time there.”
In the end the second worst kept secret revealed Andre Villas-Boas as Spurs new Head Coach with former player Steffan Freund joining up as his assistant. Central defender, Jan Vertonghen, signed from Ajax, Gylfi Sigurdsson came from Hoffenheim, Gareth Bale and Steven Caulker signed new contracts but the Luka Modric transfer saga dragged on for a second summer with the player failing to travel on the club’s tour to America.
Andre Villas-Boas on taking over at White Hart Lane.
“Tottenham Hotspur is a great club with a strong tradition and fantastic support, both at home and throughout the world. I feel privileged to be its coach. For me, this is one of the most exciting coaching positions in the Premier League. I have had several discussions with the Chairman and the Board and I share their vision for the future progress of the Club. This is a squad any coach would love to work with and together I believe we can bring success in the seasons ahead.”
Modric joined Real Madrid and in late transfer negotiations while Emmanuel Adebayor signed permanently from Manchester City and Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey came from Fulham with Hugo Lloris signing from Lyon. The season started slowly with a defeat at Newcastle United and two home draws against West Brom and Norwich. With the team conceding late goals in each game there was early discontent at White Hart Lane with boos coming from some sections of crowd, putting Villas-Boas under pressure.
After the Norwich match, Andre Villas-Boas said,
“We have to accept the disappointment of the fans. They have to understand we are doing everything in our power to get our first win.”
The first game after the September international break saw Spurs win their first match under AVB, a 3 – 1 success at Reading, lifting that burden from his shoulders. Then followed a home draw in the Europa League against Lazio with three more League and Cup wins before the end of the month. Things were on the up for Villas-Boas at Tottenham especially after the memorable 3 – 2 win at Old Trafford, the first since 1989. A wonderful result and AVB celebrated at the end just like every fan.
September ended on a high and the manager reflected on that success,
“We spoke about making history at half-time. We knew we would be under pressure. The team excelled themselves.”
Another Europa League draw and a home win over Villa sent Spurs into the international break in high spirits, 5th place in Premier League. Hugo Lloris made his Premier League debut against Villa and kept the first clean sheet of the season but Brad Friedel’s run of 310 consecutive PL Games came to an end. Injury to Mousa Dembele while with Belgium interrupted Spurs’ progress as they lost at home to Chelsea. A draw in Europe was followed by Bale’s return to Southampton with his opening goal setting up Spurs for their third away success. Two goals in the last ten minutes at Norwich in the Capital One Cup ended Spurs’ interest in the competition for another year.November
Three successive League defeats at home to Wigan and at Manchester City and Arsenal were worrying especially the nature of the collapse at the Emirates where Hugo Lloris claimed the goalkeeper’s place from Brad Friedel and conceded five. A first Europa League win with a Jermain Defoe hat-trick was the only win in the first three weeks of the month although they also earned a draw in Rome where Spurs fans were attacked on the evening before the match. The month ended with two home wins against West Ham and Liverpool.
Not everyone was happy. After the Liverpool win, Lord Sugar tweeted,
“We did not deserve that win tonight. Liverpool were all over us.”
The final month of the year saw Spurs prosper and it could have been one where they went through the month undefeated but for 88 seconds of madness during the four minutes of additional time at Goodison Park. An away win at Fulham was followed by that late reversal against Everton. Swansea lost at White Hart Lane but Stoke City held out for a scoreless draw. Aston Villa fell to a Bale hat-trick and the year came to a close at the Stadium of Light with a 2 – 1 win as Aaron Lennon scored the last Tottenham goal of 2012. The controversy of Bale’s incorrect booking for ‘diving’ and his subsequent suspension for the Reading match took some of the gloss off the win but Spurs go into 2013 in good heart. They are in 4th place after 6 wins in 8 games, have European football to look forward to against Lyon and they renew acquaintances with 1987 FA Cup winners, Coventry City, in a home tie in the FA Cup.
Andre Villas-Boas on 2013, as reported in an article in the Daily Mail,
“I’ve always believed in my ability as a manager. Football is unpredictable, but you just have to keep going because you can’t live on mid-term success. You have to take it up to the finishing line. The Champions League is the objective, but we’ve only just finished the first half of the Premier League, so there are still a lot of games to be played and the problem with the league this season is that everybody is very tight together. We’re still rebuilding a team that lost very, very important players, but that’s what makes us tick.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR