Following yet another disappointing result – as points 14 & 15 from winning positions were lost – it seemed the sky was falling yet again for Tottenham Hotspur. José Mourinho was imploding and blaming his players. The players were complaining and bemoaning their treatment. And the fan base, well they are not happy about anything. All that said, while we all want and maybe deserve more, in reality, did anyone truly expect more this season? At the moment, Tottenham is exactly where all the pundits predicted they would be, so is it that bad?
Tottenham was NOT supposed to be Top Four
Prior to the season, despite the return of Gareth Bale and a second season under José Mourinho basically, no one was selecting Tottenham to make the top four in the pre-season. NBCSports.com had three complete sets of predictions, and Tottenham was predicted to finish 6th, 5th, and 5th.
Bleacher Report said, Tottenham had top-five talent but a brutal schedule and had Spurs finishing 7th. Of note was the last line in the BR prediction, noting it “seems impossible for Tottenham to play up to their full potential” given the demanding schedule. Sunday’s match against United will be the Lilywhites 50th of the season, so clearly the schedule has been quite demanding.
So demanding were the rigors coming in the expectations were similarly low pretty much everywhere, with the Spurs outside the top four places looking in. In fact, according to an article by Planetfootball, not one, I repeat NONE of the 24 BBC pundits had Tottenham finishing in the top four. 22 of the 24 had some version of Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea. Two pundits had Arsenal sneaking in but none had Spurs making the top four.
Suffice to say, outside of those at Bill Nicholson Way and our fans, few if any expected Tottenham to finish in the top four, so what happened for this fury about the team?
Tottenham leading the league was the teams own worst enemy
Apparently, the start of the campaign really changed a lot of things. Suddenly a team that most predicted to finish outside the top four was going to win the league. In December as Sky Sports was making predictions, every pundit had Tottenham finishing in the top four, and one – Richard Morgan – predicted Spurs would win it all.
Of course, those of us watching the football knew that some of the wins were smoke and mirrors and some had been the result of good fortune. Outside of Manchester United – where Spurs were a man up – and Southampton, Tottenham were not exactly playing well but they were winning games and points.
The conventional thinking was that Tottenham would keep improving and as a result would maintain their pace. However, the Spurs stopped improving as they played match-after-match with little time for rest or really true practice. The dropped points in the first West Ham match clearly negatively impacted Mourinho and the team followed, as the balance between attack and defense was lost.
Not a perfect team but goals still to achieve
Still today Tottenham is struggling to find that balance between attack and defense as seen in the last couple of weeks with the late goals being conceded in crucial matches. These most recent dropped points bring us back to the present and the reality that Tottenham was not supposed to be a top-four team, to begin with.
That said, we expect more from our team as we need leaders, accountability, and consistent effort. If we can get that, then suddenly making the top four, which no one thought possible in September and everyone guaranteed in December may still be possible. We need more than words about making top-four at this point, we need action.
In the end, a top-four finish AND that Carabao Cup trophy would make this a successful season overall. While likely nothing will make it a pretty season at this point, I think we will all settle for success, which will only come with consistent effort and maybe holding a lead.