Tottenham: So close, but yet so far

Spurs began the season in a transition of sorts. Andre Villas Boas was brought in to replace Harry Redknapp, while star players Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart both left the club for pastures new.
It is fair to say that many Spurs fan had their doubts about AVB given his troubles during his reign at Chelsea.

However, the Portuguese boss certainly attempted to put his own stamp on the Spurs team straight away as he brought in goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from Lyon, defender Jan Vertonghen from Ajax as well as signing Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey in a double swoop on Fulham. Top scorer from 2011-12, Emmanuel Adebayor was also brought in on a permanent deal from Manchester City.

Spurs had suffered the agony of not qualifying for the Champions League for season 2012-13, despite finishing in fourth position the previous season in the Premier League, due to sixth placed Chelsea winning the Champions League. That meant AVB would have the added distraction of the Europa League as he tried to lead his new team back into the Champions League.

If AVB wanted to silence the doubters amongst the support, the first few games of the season didn’t do anything to appease them. After losing to Newcastle on the opening weekend, they then suffered two disappointing home draws against West Brom and Norwich, where on each occasion they conceded last equalisers.

However, a wonderful 3-2 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, in which starman Gareth Bale was inspirational seemed to spark AVB’s Spurs into life. However, as Spurs fans look back on season 2012-13, they will think of one word: consistency, That win over Manchester United should have sparked a great run, but instead they only won two of their next six matches, which included losing to Wigan at home and a thumping 5-2 defeat at the Emirates to bitter rivals Arsenal.

It was a theme which hindered Spurs all season. After that loss to Arsenal they went on an unbeaten run of 16 matches, which included a 2-1 win over their North London rivals for the 4th place at home, which left them seven points ahead of Arsene Wenger’s men with ten games to go.

Despite their strong league position that run of 16 unbeaten matches could have been even better as it included 0-0 draws against Stoke and QPR as well as another draw against Norwich.

Worse was to follow after the win against Arsenal as they lost successive matches to Liverpool and Fulham. With Arsenal bouncing back, Spurs missed out on the last day, where despite beating Sunderland with another trademark Bale wonder strike, Arsenal secured fourth place by winning at Newcastle.

Over the last ten games, Spurs only won half of theirs, whilst Arsenal won eight. Being honest, Spurs only have themselves to blame for missing out on 4th place.

AVB went into the Europa League with high hopes and certainly seemed to take it more seriously than managers of other English clubs. They were fairly unimpressive in the group stage though, despite being unbeaten. AVB’s side only won two games out of six, meaning they finished behind group winners Lazio.

Talisman Bale ensured they saw off Lyon, before they almost came undone against Inter Milan despite a superb 3-0 home victory. However, their run was ended in the quarter finals against Swiss side FC Basel. It went all the way to penalties in the away leg, but Basel held their nerve and won 4-1. I can imagine there was some jealousy from AVB at the sight of seeing Chelsea lift the cup earlier this month.

There was no success either in the domestic cups with defeats to Leeds and Norwich in the FA Cup and League Cup respectively putting paid to those aims for another season.

The huge positive this season for Spurs was the electrifying form of Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger hit top gear throughout the campaign and was responsible for saving his side on numerous occasions. With AVB moving him to a more central role, he was able to unleash ferocious strikes on his left foot and by the final day, he had created his own goal of the season montage.

New signings Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris have impressed and Aaron Lennon has had by far and away his most consistent season in a Spurs shirt. The problem with Spurs currently lies in the forward line, with Emmanuel Adebayor only showing true signs of his talent in the final few games which hindered Spurs with Jermain Defoe out for large chunks of the season.

AVB’s priority for the summer is to convince Bale to stay for another season, despite the lack of Champions League football. He will also look to strengthen that forward line as well as his defensive depth.

Overall, Spurs fans will have been delighted in parts with AVB’s debut season. They beat both of the big two and reached an impressive 72 points and played some superb football. Unfortunately though, their form deserted them at key times in big games and for that they didn’t achieve their number one aim for season 2012/13.


Written by Ewan McQueen

Follow Ewan on Twitter @ewanmcqueen_91

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