White Hart Lane has been home to a poisonous atmosphere this season. Boos were heard at half time in the very first home game of the season, when Spurs were unable to take the lead against West Brom. These boos were heard again against Norwich, and were at their fiercest in the loss to Wigan last weekend.
The atmosphere at White Hart Lane has gone steadily downhill over the past couple of seasons – ironic, since Tottenham fans have been treated to some of the best football they have played in recent history. It appears that the (relative) success has seen a new breed of ‘fan’ who, rather than getting behind the team, criticises them at every opportunity. With the changes to the loyalty point system, the club have decided to reward ‘recent loyalty’, those that have been around in the short term, as Tottenham have enjoyed successive top 5 finishes. Maybe this is part of the reason for the poor atmosphere – these fans forget the mid-table mediocrity that some long suffering Spurs fans have had to endure while staying behind their team.
Some fans have been criticising AVB and the most moronic of them are calling for his head after just 10 games in charge. How is a football club supposed to build in the face of such short-termism? Given time (more than just a season) I am sure that AVB can prove to be a successful manager for Spurs for years to come.
Villas Boas has had a tough induction to life at Spurs. For me this was always seen as a period of transition. Harry did a great job in taking us from the bottom of the table (now how many points was it we had from 8 games again?) to two 4th place finishes in the past 3 seasons, but he had taken us as far as he could. If it hadn’t been for two almighty collapses in the second half of successive seasons we would have seen finishes of 4th, 4th and 3rd. We would have experienced 3 seasons of Champions League football rather than the solitary one. This isn’t supposed to be an article criticising the Redknapp era, though, as I have done that at length in a previous article on this site.
I’ll turn the focus back to the new era and look at how we have performed this season so far vs last season, and also explore the difficulties that AVB has faced.
The tables below look at how we performed at the 10-game stage last season, and also compares our results against the same opposition last year (where a newly promoted team has been played this year, I have replaced them with a team that was relegated. I have used Blackburn and Bolton but I could also have used Wolves as we beat all 3 of them away from home last season).
We were 5 points better off at this stage last season. However, in the corresponding fixtures we are only 3 behind last season. Having said this, there are a number of key players missing this season (more on this below). Also, our form was exceptional at the start of last season (after the first two defeats) while it was the end of the season that cost us 3rd place.
People saying that Harry would not have dropped points at home like we have this season have short memories. Last season saw points dropped at home in draws against Wolves and Stoke and a defeat to Norwich. The previous season we had home draws against Sunderland, West Ham and Blackpool while we lost to Wigan. Even in the season where we secured Champions League qualification we had some disappointing results. We drew 0-0 with Hull while we lost to both Wolves and Stoke 1-0.
This season we have faced the loss of key players. Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart were two of the best players in the squad last season and AVB didn’t have the opportunity to work with either of them. The players that have been brought in to replace them, with no disrespect, are not of the same quality. Additionally, we have lost Ledley King, who was forced to retire, and we have a number of key players out injured. AVB has had to pick up results without the spine of Redknapp’s team. I wonder how Redknapp would have fared this season without the players mentioned above as well as having Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Dembele and Adebayor out of the team.
Sigurdson and Dempsey have yet to recapture the form they displayed last season that prompted us to buy them but I am sure they will pick up – especially when Adebayor is fully fit and starting. Defoe adds little to the team other than scoring. When he isn’t scoring he is pretty much anonymous (although he had a great game against Utd, to be fair), whereas Adebayor is better at holding the ball up and linking play.
Additionally, AVB has not been backed by Levy in the transfer window. It was clear from the start of his tenure that he had identified Moutinho and Willian as key targets but we failed to land either. Moutinho, especially, would have added what we have been missing in the absence of Modric. A deep lying playmaker who is able to control possession and be the heartbeat of the team. AVB has been forced to start the season with a depleted squad and one lacking his key transfer targets. It remains to be seen if Levy will back his man in January.
Despite the issues faced we are still joint 4th in the league and very much in with a chance of finishing in the top 4 again. With a number of key players to return from injury our form (which hasn’t actually been that bad) will pick up. As I have mentioned, Spurs has been known to fade in the 2nd half of the season in previous years. If AVB can stop this from happening then we are still in line for a good season. Let’s get behind the manager and the players and I am sure they will respond.
I have been a Spurs supporter since the days of Lineker and Gazza. I have had to endure many a mid table finish! I have had a season ticket for a number of years now and this is by far the best Spurs team that I have ever seen! Enjoying the ride this season!
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