Following the friendly at home vs. Torino, and a resounding 2-0 win, a lot seemed right with Spurs. After the summer transfers all of the fans believed there had been some great signings: Gareth Bale, Darren Bent, Kevin Prince-Boateng, and Younes Kaboul were the headliners on a transfer period that had seemed to lead to a continuing push into the top 4. Gareth Bale was deemed the next great left-back in the Premier League, Darren Bent was overpriced, but the fans knew of his class. The Prince was viewed as more of a future player, and Kaboul was viewed as possibly the next Ledley.
Also, it was our 125th year anniversary; we knew something special could happen. Here we are 15 games into the season, and where are Tottenham, who were predicted to have a good season, and qualify for the UEFA Cup or Champions League. They have 12 points, and sitting 16th. How did this happen? How could a team which was so hyped play so poorly?
As a huge Spurs supporter, I was hyped for the season, we were predicted for great things, and Martin Jol was our best manager since Bill Nicholson. We knew Jol wasn’t the smartest tactically, but he always gave us entertaining games; see West Ham v. Tottenham at Upton Park, March 4, 2007. So we had reason to believe not only would we play the best football in the premier league, but we had a chance to be great. Now most Spurs supporters weren’t confident in the defense, and why should we be? Tottenham has given up more goals since the inception of the premier league than anyone. We also knew we’d be without our skipper Ledley King for at least a month or two. However, we haven’t watched any football since May, we were ready to watch a game @ Sunderland.
Little did we know a late goal by Premier League veteran Michael Chopra could start such a downfall such as this. Then Tottenham got outplayed badly by Everton at home. Now, we all knew we still had 36 games left, so there was plenty of time to catch up, and Derby coming to town. A nice 4-0 win over Derby, the confidence appeared to be back.
However, over the next 12 games, 9 points total, a change in managers, and a defense that needs to get some help come January. Since the game against Derby, they were only played off the pitch twice, @ Newcastle, and home to Aston Villa (4-4 dramatic draw on the 125 anniversary night).
Newcastle shredded our defense, and we couldn’t stop them. Villa was up 4-1 before a huge comeback that seemed like all the magic might return to White Hart Lane. Then a late header from Fernando Torres vs. Liverpool stopped their bid for a win. Then before you know it, following a poor performance @ Newcastle, Jol gets sacked after a loss to Getafe in the UEFA Cup.
Juande Ramos was named manager following Clive Allen’s 1 game stint where the team blew yet another game, and lost at home to Blackburn. Jol, our most successful manager since Billy Nick, is gone. Surely wasn’t the outcome everyone thought up before the season.
Early on everyone wasn’t sure about Ramos. Ramos was viewed as a savior though through his tactical decisions and especially his results through his first 4 games; we had 3 clean sheets, and a draw against Boro. Then a game against West Ham when we fell behind 1-0 in the first half, but then got the equalizer in the 2nd half due to a formation change. Then, just when we thought some luck went our way in a penalty, Jermain Defoe steps up, and it was symbolic of our season…he couldn’t finish. Give Green credit for making the save, but in that situation, Defoe has to finish from the spot.
Then, against Aalborg in the UEFA Cup, Tottenham practically guaranteed their spot in the knockout stages, with a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down at the half, to win 3-2. Juande was praised again, and we all believed a turnaround was imminent.
However, there was this past weekend, where Tottenham blew a game against Birmingham City. Spurs found themselves down 1-0 after a questionable penalty was given by referee Phil Dowd to McSheffrey who finished from the spot. It wouldn’t be the last time Dowd had made a questionable call in the game. Spurs found themselves behind at halftime once again, 1-0. However, myself like most Spurs fans felt we have outplayed them all game, and we knew we would at least equalize, if not take the lead. Then sure enough after a Robbie Keane penalty it was 1-1 only 5 minutes in; and then Keane 3 minutes later gives us a lead 2-1 with a great finish.
Most Spurs fans believed that was game over, we had dominated most of the game. Then Berbatov missed a sure header which would’ve put the Lilywhites up 3-1. Then sure enough, Tottenham allow a counter attack equalizer, and a good finish found the game tied again. With most Spurs fans saying “How?” Then Dowd makes the questionable decision to send off Keane on what was a bookable offense, but most were expecting a yellow card. Then in extra time, a fantastic shot from Larsson left the score at 3-2, and Tottenham fans were left wondering, what might have been.
This season has been just heartbreak for me; I have been a Spurs fan for years, and with such high expectations for them to perform like this has been dreadful for all of us Spurs supporters. It appears now the only way Tottenham can find their way back to Europe would be if the table was reversed, or they could qualify for the UEFA again if they win it. Hardly what most thought and Tottenham through 15 games find themselves 18 points off the pace for a Champions League spot. So we already lost out on that, and we find ourselves 18 points away from 5th place, the place we have finished 2 straight years.
Tottenham were worried about finishing in the top 4, however, the worry of mine and most fans, is to win league games, so we can get out of the bottom 5. I’m not worried about Europe at the moment; sure we have a game against Anderlecht on Thursday. However, that’s the least of all our concerns; we would like to qualify, because it would be a giant boost to our team.
The only problem is the next 3 league games: Manchester City (5th place) at home, @ Portsmouth (6th place), and @ Arsenal (league leaders).
It might be until 2008 before another league win, and after no away wins in league play this year, it’s looking less likely to come up in the next few weeks. I will be Tottenham through and through, this season seems to be longer than any other, and unless we pick up the pace, we might be finding ourselves in the Coca Cola Championship. A spot, surely no Spurs fan would ever have believed back in July.
This article was written by Rob Dougherty