With only two points accrued in three league matches and the transfer window closing soon, Tottenham Hotspur are already floundering. Is this club more than just its bottom line?
By Bryan Pol
At present, Tottenham Hotspur are slotted at fifteenth on the Barclay’s Premier League table, having garnered a mere two points out of a possible nine in three relatively lackluster matches: a 1-0 loss to United at Old Trafford, in which Spurs dominated possession, but faltered in light of a Kyle Walker own goal; a 2-2 draw against Stoke City at White Hart Lane, by which Spurs lead 2-0 going into the half, manager Mauricio Pochettino opted to pull Harry Kane for Erik Lamela in the 64th minute, and when Stoke’s Mame Diouf equalized in the 82nd minute, Tottenham’s star striker was on the bench with no chance to pull ahead; and this past Saturday’s 1-1 draw to Leicester City at King Power Stadium, in which Christian Eriksen, so vital to what Spurs accomplish on the attack, was sidelined with a knee injury, his presence clearly missed with Kane knocking on the door several times without the Danish midfielder providing him service in Spurs’ attacking third.
In short, Spurs will be limping into Saturday’s clash with Everton, a match that precedes a two-week layoff for international friendlies.
Tottenham made headlines this summer, not so much for their acquisitions, but for events that affected chairman Daniel Levy’s bottom line: the excising of deadwood in the form of Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Younes Kaboul, Paulinho, Benjamin Stambouli, and Roberto Soldado, many of whom were players purchased with “Gareth Bale money” in 2013, when the Welsh winger departed for Real Madrid, along with news that, when the new White Hart Lane opens in 2018, Spurs will begin a 10-year partnership with the NFL to feature two games annually on the Tottenham home pitch.
While NFL fans across the pond will come to know Spurs on a much larger scale, albeit, from the look of their pitch, Tottenham fans cannot help but be suspicious of Levy continuing to use Spurs as a lightning rod for building his financial portfolio, rather than constructing Tottenham as a football club that can compete yearly in the top four. While the revenue built with the NFL should aid the Spurs in their pursuit of Champions League, so many have to fret over whether Levy retains Kane and Eriksen to christen the new White Hart Lane or be driven to sell them off in light of their respective ascensions.
With the transfer window due to close on September 1 at 6:00 PM, Spurs, eight days from zero hour as of Monday morning, look grossly undermanned at striker, with Emmanuel Adebayor rumored to depart or sit the bench and the dissapointing Soldado sale to Villarreal. Immense pressure falls on Kane’s shoulder’s to replicate his 2014/15 campaign, but in light of just how prominent that season was, the Englishman by way of Chingford is due for a regression.
While Spurs have done plenty to sure up the backfield with the acquisitions of Toby Alderweireld, Kieran Trippier, and Kevin Wimmer to atone for the departures of Chiriches, former captain Michael Dawson, and Kaboul, Tottenham lacks authority at the center defensive midfield with the accumulated losses of Capoue, Sandro, and Paulinho and center back Eric Dier forced to play out of position to fill the need.
While excitement arrives in the form of youngsters Dele Alli from MK Dons and Clinton N’Jie from Lyon, Spurs remain a disaster at midfield, shockingly uncertain in attacking options, and out of sorts in what appears to be a jumbled backfield.
The first goal of Saturday’s match did, however, convey the spark that could exist when Spurs finally gel on the attack.
With Kane dribbling toward the box, twirling about to attract four Leicester defenders, the striker delivered to winger Nacer Chadli on his left, forcing the defenders to collapse on the Belgian star, second in scoring for Spurs in 2014/15. One such defender strafed to meet a charging Kane, leaving a bursting Alli on the right to receive a gorgeous ball from Chadli that he headed past keeper Kasper Schmeichel. Given the connection between the three, Spurs’ fans must be salivating over what Eriksen and N’Jie could provide when all are present and healthy.
Alas, in typical Spurs’ fashion, Tottenham allowed Riyad Mahrez to equalize a mere ten seconds later, sapping life from Spurs’ away support that was still buzzing from Alli’s magnificent header.
Who is ready for a new episode of #ThatsSoSpursy?
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 22, 2015
Undoubtedly, Spurs have shown a penchant for doing relatively profound business late in the transfer window (see 2012, when Tottenham acquired star goal keeper Hugo Lloris, Moussa Dembele, and Clint Dempsey in the eleventh hour), but time is running short on their ability to land West Brom’s Saido Berahino, a striker who would infuse youth and vivacity to Spurs’ attack.
While there is solace in the Leicester result–the Foxes have received 29 points across all league matches since April 1 of last season, the most in the EPL, good enough to supplant them atop the table to the start of this year–Tottenham continues to project shades of not being able to close and win crucial matches with top-four positioning at stake, evidenced in nearly every campaign since Bale’s last turn at Spurs. If not for Kane’s magical run last season and Bale’s equally tremendous season in 2012/13, a fifth-place finish, missing the fourth position by mere points (only a point to Arsenal in Bale’s last year), is undeniably out of the question. No doubt, Pochettino cannot rely on Kane recreating his brilliance of last year, putting Spurs in a precarious position, made worse by Levy’s inability to close deals on striker sales (Adebayor to Aston Villa) or contracts (i.e. the rumored on-and-off Berahino deal).
Despite the start to the EPL season, it remains a new year and the same old Tottenham, given their laggard ways at the transfer window’s deadline, a fate that could doom them earlier than anticipated, a morbid proposition given the slate of Europa League matches sure to diminish Spurs’ chances at top four when the squad once again listlessly crawls to a finish at season’s end.
Eight days out from the transfer window deadline, Levy is on the clock to prove he is more than a businessman using his football club as a commodity to push him into the black.
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