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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  1. Arthur Smith

    May 30, 2013 at 18:05

    Yawn! Same old story. Never mind there is always next season!

  2. IoanX

    May 30, 2013 at 20:16

    AVB was as good as winning one game out of six against Norwich, Wigan and QPR!
    He couldn’t defend, during the last part of the competition, a seven point lead from the club in fifth place and he was eliminated in all three cup competitions without reaching a final, losing against clubs like Norwich, Leeds and Basel!
    Those results prove that AVB misses a tactical nous and is unable to motivate his players to play up to their normal level against lesser teams.
    Two serious shortcomings of a manager.
    Spurs could finish fifth this season only thanks to the points won by the individual actions and the scoring ability of Bale, a factor that didn’t exist in the previous season.
    After Levy and Co have run Spurs for thirteen years without achieving to win a major trophy, we can conclude that, unhappily for Spurs, Levy and Co lack ambition with the club concerning winning trophies on the field and participating regularly to the CL (except if they can achieve that on the very cheap and without the slightest financial risk). They lack also the appropriate scientific football knowledge and expertise to organise in an effective way a football club with the number of supporters and history of Spurs.
    I would like to add that all major clubs in the world have first achieved successes on the field over a period of time and then they went to build a bigger stadium.

  3. Chris B Waters

    May 30, 2013 at 22:51

    It’s quite simple. Spurs MUST hold on to their assets, while adding a top striker and top playmaker. Not replacing Modric, especially, has been key to their falling short this season, even with the incredible exploits of Super-Bale. It’s down to terrible ‘if onlys’ over the past two seasons, and the footballing gods have not been kind, ultimately, to a club that’s played stuff deserving of Champions League football three years running (not just the once, with a quarter final reached). The only thing to be hoped for next season is that a Modric ‘clone’ is back in place, although they are rare indeed and won’t be cheap. On the striker front, there seem so many around that Spurs have the opposite problem of simply choosing the right one, who’ll fit in, at the right price. If Spurs get both purchases right, however, then they’ll finally step out from the shadows of Chelsea and Arsenal ..teams they’ve shown they’re on a par with. The defense is strong, especially with Kabul and Sandro coming back, and Vertonghen, Daws, Caulker, Walker and Bene are all high class. Doubts remain as to whether Livermore, Naughton and Rose can break through next year, and Gallas seems ‘gone’, but along with Lloris, the defense is strong. Hudd is nearly back to his best and can play that anchor role in certain games (people forget how well he, and Parker, played with Modric around), and a proper playmaker will revive Parker for one last season too. Sandro’s presense will also ease the pressure of that holding midfield position.
    As for Dembele, you’ve got to like him but his best position is behind the striker(s) and not deep where Parker, Sandro or Hudd lurk. His ‘bursts’ forward are wasted back there, and he should be threatening more on goal. Again, Siggy and Holtby I’m not convinced about, although I really hope they prove me wrong. At present I just see them as cover ..a little ahead of Livermore and Carroll, but behind the Hudd, Parker or Sandro. That leaves just Ade and Defoe. Those men owe Spurs a great deal next year, and it will be their last chance. Although his cameo at the end of the season proved too little too late, Ade showed just what Spurs have been missing. Him and Defoe should be shocked into scoring more, and displaying more consistency, if there’s a top enthusiastic third striker to compete with. And Tottenham, get back to the wings too. A playmaker with seamless midfield working up from defense will give Lennon and Bale new life on the wings again, although the asset of Bale switching around will be there too. Remember, when Modric was there, even Sir Alex said Spurs were playing the best football for about 4/5 months of the 2011/12 season. Two top signings (funded partially by a few sales) ..that’s all! And ‘HANG ON TO BALE’! Let this Spurs squad flourish, Mr LEVY, and finally realise its potential!!

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