Tottenham Hotspur, recently tipped by pundits as the team to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for Premiership honours this EPL season, are well off the pace. Only a few games into the season they languish ten points behind league leaders, Liverpool and five points behind second-placed Manchester City.
Given the consistency of the Reds and the Sky Blues, the Lilywhites have surrendered their challenge without much of a fight. But when all is said and done, their problems – for problems there must be – are self-imposed.
Tottenham’s woe has always been the same, ever since the glory days of the sixties: lack of consistency. It is true today as it ever has been in recent years. Perhaps, even more so. In pre-season they beat Real Madrid 1-0, they drew 2-2 with Bayern, and they beat Inter Milan 4-3 on penalties. It showed promise.
However, when it comes to their performance in the Premiership so far this season, the lack of consistency becomes obvious. They lost at home to Newcastle. They drew with Arsenal having been two goals in front., and they lost 2-1 to Leicester having led by 1-0.
In other competitions, they drew with Olympiacos having been 2-0 up and most shocking of all, they were dumped unceremoniously out of the Carabao Cup by League Two Colchester United. There is clearly something wrong in the Spurs’ camp, and it stems from the top.
Tottenham have some terrific players on their books, and they include Dutchman Christian Eriksen, the Belgian, Toby Alderweireld, as well as another Belgian, Jan Vertonghen. One excellent playmaker, and two top-class defenders. All players that most teams would be pleased to field in their starting elevens. But not Spurs, and why? Because they are nearly all out of contracts.
As we know, when players are on the verge of having their contracts dropped, they have little incentive to give their best on the field of play.
The two Belgians are 32 and 30 years old, respectively. Both are past their best sell-by dates. The Dutchmen is 28. No spring chicken, but with a few good years still on the clock. The trouble with him, of course, is that he wants out, a sentiment that manager Mauricio Pochettino also agrees with.
Another problem player is Danny Rose – an excellent defender and English international, Rose, like Eriksen, has said he too wants to move on. On top of the surprise exit of Kieran Trippier, Tottenham’s defence is looking extremely shaky.
The problem lies with the boss, Daniel Levy. It is his tactics that have allowed the situations to develop because of his transfer policies, and his reticence to spend top money. It must cause problems in the dressing room, even though none have been publicly voiced. But it must cause unrest, and it is this unrest which leads to a lack of consistency. They are simply well enough motivated.
Darren Anderton summed it all up in a recent interview. He said that Tottenham has everything set up to be a force to reckon with over the next ten year. They have a decent squad of players. They have a fantastic new stadium, and one of the best managers on the planet. However, Levy and his tactics will undo it all.
Pochettino must be getting increasingly frustrated, even though he is keeping quiet. But the lack of the team’s consistency and the absence silverware must be weighing heavily with the manager. It surely won’t be long before he seeks new pastures.