Last nights deflating humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich is perhaps the icing on the cake for those sceptics that have seen it coming now for so long. A 7-2 record home defeat in the Champions League for a team that only four months ago played their first ever final in the continents biggest, baddest and best competition of all is one huge fall from grace especially embarrassing in front of the clubs own avid support at the newly opened Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
This has been coming, maybe it’s just what Spurs need, perhaps it will help bring the players together, or much worse it could see them fall apart.
I won’t go in to rumours over recent in house incidents because those aside, Tottenham Hotspur has not been in a great place since last summer when they refused to strengthen their squad following a third placed Premier League finish in 2017/18.
That post/pre-season window saw zero transfer business achieved by messes Pochettino and Levy and with it just five weeks into the season saw their slim championship aspirations all but ended following back to back defeats against first Watford then Liverpool.
Last season the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose fell victim to Pochettino’s powers as in wanting out they were shoved to one side until eventually needed in desperate situation. This season it’s been Christian Eriksen & Jan Vertonghen suffering similar fate. Although it looks as if they have self inflicted but valid excuse for needing to get out of Spurs, it doesn’t come across well when delving in to just why.
But should the issues on the pitch be those that instigate the decisions of the players for wanting to leave then it would be of no surprise either. Spurs under Poch have perhaps gone as far as they can? To a Champions League final, to the brink of Premier League glory? The Argentine has commented that he’s not interested in the FA Cup or League Cup despite Spurs not winning silverware since 2008. To win a Premier League or Champions League they must strengthen, but if they are not interested in strengthening, they are clearly not interested in winning anything.
Last year for me papered over the cracks. Spurs yes did brilliantly well to get out of a tough group in the Champions League and after thrashing Dortmund they got lucky not once against Manchester City, but twice against Ajax as they were far from the better team in either game. Spurs to their credit made a final that was always going to be a bridge too far as they were eventually beaten by worthy champions Liverpool, in that final they were second best by some way, a position that they have been many times in 2019.
In all, Tottenham have won just 11 of their 25 Premier League games this calendar year and amongst that you have to go back as far as January 20th for the last time they won away from home. A recent penalty shootout defeat against fourth tier Colchester United in the Carabao Cup not one that would usually be considered as important but considering other results of late it stands up as terrible as the home defeat to Newcastle United and near embarrassing as the thumping that Bayern imposed on them last night.
If we dissect the squad the goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for however great he’s been is perhaps past his sell by date? The right back Serge Aurier is a complete liability, the left back Danny Rose looks unhappy and has wanted to leave for some considerable time now whilst Toby Alderweireld in running down his own contract has been linked with moving for the last 3 years. It now looks like Vertonghen could be another for the exit door with questions on the likes of Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth, Kyle Water Peters and Ben Davies on whether they are good enough defensively to replace those in front of them?
In midfield the issues are more to do with form than commitment? Eriksen wants out but hasn’t played well since last season, Eric Dier has hardly been integral whilst Dele Alli hasn’t scored a league goal since January.
Whilst Harry Kane up front remains consistent and committed as ever you must wonder what the likes of Lucas Moura are thinking having scored the hat trick to take Tottenham to the Champions League final only to make the bench, a significant blow on his own personal performance. No such reward for being a hero.
I don’t know if Spurs players are under-achieving through lack of spirit, lack of desire, by choice perhaps or they simply don’t have the squad depth to continue the form of recent seasons when they have out gunned their cross town rivals Arsenal, but questions now are rightly directed at the Manager who might have wanted out a year ago when he was linked with Manchester United. He might want out now again but is he perhaps the talk of the town he once was?
So what now for Poch? He could easily walk before he’s pushed but should he dare to stay at the Spurs he’ll no doubt have further testing times ahead…. I’m not so sure things will get any better for him whilst in charge? Great players, great stadiums and great managers can only get you so far.. Great togetherness is needed to create success, and I don’t get the feeling that Spurs indeed have that at this moment in time.