The year 2013 has seen many highs and lows for Tottenham. The HotspurHQ review of the past twelve months will reflect the many changes that have occurred at White Hart Lane.
Alan, Jav who takes the photographs for us and I have combined to review the past year in which we enjoyed many great goals but missed out on Champions League football with our highest ever points total in the Premier League. There has been the loss of our ‘star’ player and the influx of seven new players in the summer but the year brought about change with the departure of Andre Villas-boas and former player Tim Sherwood taking over as his replacement.
Highlight of 2013
Alan: I had two personal ones.1. getting my season ticket and recovering enough to return to White Hart Lane for the first time in years for the Norwich game, meeting you and having our pics taken at the main entrance.
2. meeting Ledley King…and I hate to admit it but seeing Luis Suarez up close give a master class on the same day.
My football highlight was the victory over Arsenal.
Jav: This season my memorable moments so far include Sandro’s goal against Manchester United and Eriksen’s free kick against West Bromich Albion. However, the highlight for me is from the best match in 2013 but is not actually a goal. After Bale scores his wonderful strike against West Ham to make it 2-3, it is the moment he runs up to André Villas-Boas hugs him and then the team surround them in celebration. The written press captured this moment in various pictures and I get goose bumps everytime I see that moment.
Logan: The highlight of 2013 has to come from the early months of the year and the incredible goalscoring form Gareth Bale brought to the team. Without his outstanding goals we’d have struggled in that second half of the season but with them we came so close to making it into the Champions League. There were so many goals that we had a Gareth Bale ‘Goal of the Season’ last May and his last minute goal against West Ham at Upton Park was the winner among HotspurHQ readers.
Disappointment of 2013
Alan: Failing to qualify for the Champions League again and not recovering quickly enough to see Gareth Bale at his best in the flesh before he left.
Jav: The 2013-14 season has been a disappointment for sure with some terrible results and some not so impressive performances. I was sad that André Villas-Boas was sacked but most of the written media did not like him. However, even though I was dreading and expecting it I was extremely disappointed that we sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid FC. It was a pleasure seeing him grace the turf at White Hart Lane last season week in and week out and even though I knew he would eventually leave us I was hoping he would stay one more season. Alas this was not to be for various reasons all of which I guess we will never know.
Logan: At the time, on the last day of the season, I accepted finishing 5th and missing out on the Champions League as a ‘we’ve been here before’ moment. In a bullish response to a comment about Gareth Bale I said that I didn’t care where he went to as long as it wasn’t Man United. When it came to it, however, I did mind. The sale of Bale to Real Madrid, even though we knew it was going to happen was a great disappointment. With it came the realisation that we had lost the ‘special’ player that every top team needs, a player who can do something spectacular to change a game was hard to accept. We’ve longed to have such a player for years and now he was gone.
Alan: Spurs 2 Arsenal 1, 3 March 2013. Goals from Bale and Lennon. A well-deserved victory left us in 3rd, 7 points clear of Arsenal. All downhill from there.
Jav: This is quite an easy decision for me. Sadly no candidates for the best match from the 2013-2014 season which sums up our frustrations as fans. The candidates for me were West Ham away, Internazionale Milano and Arsenal at home all of which were played in succession at the end of February/beginning of March. What a few days that was a supporter. Also the Manchester City home game in April. I have chosen for the best match the away game at West Ham for a variety of reasons. The emotional rollercoaster of the game for one, this is expected if you are a Spurs fan I guess? Plus I was with my family during this game so we were all on lows and highs throughout the 90 minutes. The wonderful strike in 90th minute by Bale sent us all into ecstatic celebration and I distinctly recall my heart pounding so fast after that for many minutes.
Logan: I also selected the Arsenal game as Spurs created a new club record of 12 Premier League games without defeat. Spurs scored two lovely worked goals, almost identical, within 2 minutes 20 seconds of each other late in the first half. Spurs opened up the Arsenal defence with ease as first Gylfi Sigurdsson and then Scott Parker delivered the perfect pass for Bale and Lennon respectively.
Final Thoughts On AVB’s Time at Spurs
Alan: He nearly pulled it off. My wife is a knowledgeable football observer and an excellent judge of character. Her instant judgment when AVB was appointed was “He won’t last until Christmas”. A year later with Bale gone, boring performances and heavy defeats coming regularly she said,
I told you so, I just got the wrong Christmas.
I thought he had the potential to make a long term success of his “project” but he allowed the self-belief that comes with early career success to make him over confident and intransigent. He was initially cautious after his Chelsea experience but rallied as points racked up. He did not appear to recognise that it was Gareth Bale who single-handedly rescued us in at least 8 games last season and was therefore more responsible for our record points total than his tactical nous.
I believe I was the first person to coin the phrase “No Plan B” in an early blog and it soon repeated across the press (with no credits to its origin). He started to appear to prove us wrong with some astute in game changes last season but this season with Bale gone, there was little excitement and an impressive points tally hid narrow victories, boring performances and by the time he left, the worst goal difference in the top half of the league.
In my gut, I believed he would go from the moment he blamed the fans for the lack of atmosphere and disappointing performances at White Hart Lane. We had a right to expect him to get more out of the players bought to replace Bale and strengthen the squad, regardless of whether they were his first choice.
Time will tell whether they were poor buys or not. Once those crushing defeats started to repeat on top of boring performances, he appeared to have lost his way.
Jav: I was a big supporter of the project that Daniel Levy had given André Villas-Boas. A record high points tally, highest percentage win rate and some excellent football was played last season. Players sometime being played out of position did not worry me as we were winning games. When you are winning you tend not to question too much. The arrival of “The Maginificent Seven” this season at the time excited most if not all Spurs fans but time was required to integrate them. I was worried we were not scoring enough goals but was surprised André Villas-Boas still did not use Adebayor more than he did/should have. I have no regrets of the appointment, enjoyed having him as our manager and ultimately I believe he should have been given more time. I am sure he will be successful elsewhere.
Logan: I so wanted AVB to make a success of it and for a time with Bale in the team, it went well but even with Bale, he still missed that top-4 finish. This season, he was stubborn in in persisting with his team formation and tactics. There were clearly problems which every fan could see but he refused to make the necessary changes. At the start he appeared to have the support of the players but in the defeat against West Ham and then at City it was clear that the players’ hearts were not in it. The defeat against Liverpool was the confirmation and it clear that Andre Villas-Boas’s time at Tottenham was up.to go
Initial Thoughts On Tim Sherwood’s Appointment
Alan: Tim would not have been my choice as I understood coaching badges were a prerequisite and he has no management experience despite his knowledge of the club. The end of 2014/15? That’s as long as anybody ever gets at Spurs.
It is our job to get behind him now and wish him the very best of luck.
Jav: Probably the worst time to come in as a manager is during the Christmas period when you have a game every 3 to 4 days so Tim Sherwood has not really had time to get his methods across. I am not really surprised at the appointment given what is available in the market. I am happy that Sherwood has bought back Adebayor into the team. His formation used in the games he has been in charge of is not what we expected but he has been given a chance and I for sure will support Sherwood as to do anything else would not benefit players’ confidence which in turn is detrimental to the club.
Logan: The Tim Sherwood ‘played for Tottenham’ had no bearing as far as I was concerned as he was a player who made little impact on my memory. I had to check that he had captained Spurs and all I can remember was that he signed just before the 1999 League Cup Final but couldn’t play as he was cup-tied.
Making an appointment in mid-season was a problem for Daniel Levy but Sherwood wouldn’t have been my first choice. The more experienced managers were in posts and didn’t want to leave their clubs at that time so there were few options open to the club. Sherwood has always been talked of as someone who was highly regarded within the club and it was obvious that he wanted the position.
He has made an encouraging start with results and style of play which is pleasing to the fans. There will be more testing times ahead as he has admitted himself but as Alan says – we’ll get behind him and his team and hope that he can bring success to the club.
In his post-match interviews on Sunday, Tim Sherwood was quoted by the Daily Express,
……..there are going to be tougher tests ahead and we have to try to find the right formula for playing against the bigger teams.
Expectations For Tottenham in 2014
Alan: Top 10 finish. No trophies. Hopes; our strikers form a partnership that gets plenty of goals; we return to exciting football; we win the FA Cup; we qualify for the Champions League; we win the Europa League. If we don’t qualify for the Champions League please don’t qualify for the Europa League either.
Jav: The target for the end of this season should still be a Top 4 position as we have the players to do this. However I think this is very unlikely so I would be happy with a Top 6 finish and a good run in the Europa League, hopefully going one round further than last year or even making it to the final. Based on our injuries currently I think it will be difficult to progress in the FA Cup based on our opponents this Saturday. I hope Levy brings in an experienced coach over the summer as I feel some other clubs may try to tempt some of our players away if this does not happen. Stability is not a word one normally has associated with Daniel Levy’s time at Tottenham Hotspur.
Logan: I don’t know what to expect from 2014. Like Alan and Jav, I don’t think we’ll make a top-4 finish but when you look at the league table we’re only 3 points behind Everton in 4th place. My concern if we don’t make it to the champions League is that come the summer after the world Cup finals, there’ll be a queue of players looking to move to a club who can offer the opportunity to play in Europe’s top club competition.
We’re long overdue a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup Final but the 3rd Round draw hasn’t been kind to us which leaves the Europa League. How seriously Tim Sherwood takes the competition may depend on our League position at the time of the knock-out stages. Progress is always difficult with the Champions League drop-outs entering the competition but Spurs have reached this stage with ease against weak opposition. It will be tougher in the knock-out rounds but with a bit of good fortune in the draw Spurs could make it to the semi-finals.
Jav’s Favourite Photograph
Due to restrictions at White Hart Lane I am only allowed to take pictures before the game, during half time and post full time in case you are wondering why I typically do not take pictures during the game. Sometimes I do manage to sneak a few in but typically I am watching the match.
It is difficult to choose one picture out of around 6000 I have taken this year but again I whittled it down to three.
- The first one is not surprisingly of Gareth Bale warming up just before the game kicks off against Fulham FC in March. He was in the centre circle with Adebayor and performing his usual routine before the referee started the game.
- The second was of Eric Lamela stretching in a “T” position at the home game against Chelsea. I chose this because it is not a position I normally see players in, so as soon as I saw him do this I knew it was unique.
- The winner for me is one of my favourite players, Sandro Raniere, what a character this man is. It was the home game against Swansea in August. All the players were supporting the “Get To Know Cancer” campaign by wearing the t-shirts and the PA system was blaring music, I cannot remember which track was playing and the guitar solo part of the song started and suddenly Sandro started to play the air guitar….. SNAP!
Shutter speed 250 at f6.3
HAPPY NEW YEAR
***My sincere thanks to Alan and Jav for their valued contribution to this review of 2013 and for all their assistance on HotspurHQ through the past twelve months. It’s greatly appreciated. As are all your remarks in the comments box, on Twitter and Facebook.***
Steffen Freund waves goodbye to a difficult 2013.