And so, as they appear to every single season, Spurs seem to be waving the white flag as far as the race for Champions League qualification is concerned.
After exiting the Europa League and losing the League Cup final in the last two weeks, Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s hope of Champions League football next season was dealt a fatal blow on Sunday afternoon as they were blown away by an energetic and high-tempo performance from Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. The question is: what has happened to Spurs?
Whilst the answer to that question is not necessarily an easy one to find, one must start with Pochettino’s frankly bizarre team selection. What was essentially a 4-2-4 formation was quickly picked apart by United, and with Spurs conceding two early goals, Andros Townsend was substituted after just 30 minutes as Pochettino sought to plug the very obvious – and damaging – midfield gap. Sadly for the Argentine and his charges, the damage was already done.
What wasn’t ‘done’ though, was an opportunity for Spurs to at least prove that they are a better team than what was on display during that first 30 minutes. Unfortunately this too seemed a goal that was beyond them, with United dominating the game despite relatively close possession statistics. In short, what United did with the ball, Tottenham simply couldn’t do.
The challenge for those at White Hart Lane now is: where do they go from here? With no more chances for trophies and the race for the top four seemingly now out of sight, what more do the Spurs have to aim for? There is, of course, the seemingly annual Europa League qualification, but one might question whether Tottenham still have an appetite for a competition that appears to have such a detrimental effect on the team’s performance in the domestic competitions.
The trouble is, if Europa League qualification is not deemed a worthy goal, there really is not much left for Spurs. Yet another season that will fizzle out with no silverware, no real bragging rights (aside from a victory against their bitter rivals) and a slightly above average finish.
Some might say that I’m being unfair, and that this is the genesis of a great Spurs team that we can expect a lot more from. This may well be the case, but Tottenham fans have had enough being also-rans; it’s time for the team to elevate themselves. Sadly for the white side of North London, they’ve failed to do that this year.