Gareth Dace looks at an imperceptible change in the Spurs team that seeks new glory ...
I hope this doesn’t come across as knee-jerk reaction to the pitiful display at Sunderland today, so let's just call it a reality check. After all what is really different about the team that finished a comfortably outside of the top four last year and only made it into fifth spot on the final day of the season ?
Over the Summer we have spent over £30m on new players yet of those only Gareth Bale has been brought in as a first team starter. Bent, Kaboul and Boateng are all squad players and Taarabt is clearly one for the future, who may not feature regularly despite rave reviews in pre-season. Therefore our first choice starting XI would only have one different name in now than it did last season, so I’m struggling to see why all of a sudden we are going to be finishing in a Champions League place come May.
Perhaps it is the hype that has been created both internally and externally over the Summer as for once it was not just us fans who predicted that we might be ready to push on. For the first time in I don’t know how long, even the media seem to be rating our chances, but as discussed above I can’t see that this should be because of anything we have done. How many of our squad would get into any of the Top four’s starting XI ? Clearly Berbatov would and perhaps Chimbonda but that’s about all.
Whilst our (first choice) defence looks good and our array of forwards is enviable amongst any side it is still our midfield that lets us down. Games are won by midfields and ours is far too weak. Lennon can be a world beater and I really rate Malbranque, but Jenas, Zokora, Tainio and Huddlestone are not good enough collectively to consistently win us games, rather we will have to rely on the brilliance of Berbatov and co to supply the goods.
Perhaps everyone has also got a little too carried away with the supposed “demise of Arsenal” following Henry’s departure. Sadly I think all this talk is seriously misguided and we should look no further than the Cup and League games at the Lane last year (both 2-2) to see just how superior their technical ability was compared to ours. Again you shouldn’t draw conclusions from just one game but can you imagine Arsenal going to Sunderland and having just one shot on target ?
I’m all for the club being ambitious and am pleased that they are making the right noises about finishing in the top 4. (in fact would far prefer it if the said “top three” as if we can catch Arsenal then Liverpool must be in sight too – otherwise it sounds as if we just interested in finishing above Arsenal) but I wonder what this ambition is actually based on. Let's please remember for a moment that until 2006 we had gone some 16 years without finishing in the top six, so to make a leap within three years above clubs who have been playing Champions League football regularly for nearly 10 seasons would be a remarkable achievement.
Realistically we must again finish in a European spot again this season and we would really love a Cup Final to go to as its now been six years since we got to one and nine since we won one. We already have the nucleus of a very strong team that is young and will improve, but until a midfield enforcer is brought in who can dominate and win midfield battles we will not be challenging for Champions League just yet !
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