Spurs start to the season has been full of average performances as a team and individually. Their recent defeat to West Ham makes Eion Smith sure that they’re once again not quite there…
Here we are again. It’s early on in the Premier League season and the debate begins about whether Tottenham can realistically challenge for the Premier League title. The usual process is for the media and neutrals to say that they will be there or there about while I say that they’re hopeless and won’t even reach the top four. And usually, Spurs look good and then do an Arsenal and implode near the end of the year. Yet, on paper, their transfer business should make them genuine contenders this year. Then again, maybe not.
This summer was a bonanza for Spurs. Players like Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado came in while the club lost Gareth Bale for a world record fee. The general consensus is that Spurs had one of the best transfer windows in recent years and I would agree based on talent alone. Players like Lamela and Eriksen are incredible young talents that any team would love to have while Paulinho is a fantastic all round midfielder and Soldado is a lethal poacher. However, I don’t think Spurs needed many of these players.
The Spurs midfield was stacked to begin with but the additions of Capoue, Paulinho, Eriksen, Lamela, Chadli and Lamela have made it almost endless. I know a team needs a good squad to win the title but that means every position and not just a couple. Look at the defence. Danny Rose is the first choice left back but what happens when he gets suspended or injured? Who plays there? Kyle Naughton is OK and has some potential but he does not offer the greatest security. Jan Vertonghen plays there for Belgium but if he’s moved away from the centre who plays next to Michael Dawson? The rarely seen Younes Kaboul or the unproven Vlad Chiriches. There are only four centre backs. That’s not even close to enough. Spurs have possibly the weakest defence of the top six or seven sides in the Premier League despite the obvious quality of Vertonghen and Dawson. And that’s not the only problem.
Despite only being one man, Gareth Bale produced consistently for Spurs. His directness and extra bit of quality was crucial to the Spurs cause last season. He was always going to go this summer and Spurs bought quantity to replace him and prove that they are not a one man team. However, the signings have not all settled in and for every Eriksen and Paulinho there is a Lamela. None of these players are anything like Bale in the way they play either which makes everything Spurs do seem a little awkward and stuttered. The only player that has truly impressed for Spurs is Andros Townsend who is like Bale with his direct running style and sheer pace. But the young winger is still very raw and doesn’t provide quality often enough when it matters. Spurs miss Bale and it is really beginning to show.
Another large problem they have is up front. Many thought that Soldado was the remedy but he is far from it. He is an expensive Jermaine Defoe. Both are similar in style – penalty box finishers – but don’t always provide good link up play. Emmanuel Adebayor is far from the player he was at Arsenal and Spurs really need someone like Adebayor who can produce consistently as well as be the foil for Soldado or Defoe. When everyone was saying Spurs needed a striker this past summer they didn’t mean go and buy the Spanish version of what you already have.
There doesn’t seem to be a realisation from AVB, Daniel Levy or anyone who has any influence at Spurs that they’ve had this problem for a few seasons now. They always seem to buy players that they don’t need and pass up on opportunities to buy players that could tranform them into actual title contenders. New defenders like Mahmadou Sakho were ignored for Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen while a striker like Christian Benteke was too expensive but Roberto Soldado (who coincidentally only cost £1 million less than Benteke’s asking price) was bought despite having never played outside of La Liga. They think that if you buy lots of little playmakers then they will become a Barcelona style dominant team when they are actually shooting themselves in the foot.
Spurs won’t win the title this year. Nor will they challenge for it. I would also put on good money that they won’t finish in the top four either. They’re just missing something – a balanced squad.