A Memorable Season but Not in a Good Way

tottenhamThe curtain has finally come down on the longest Premier League season ever and few Spurs fans will be sorry to see it go. Having reached the final of the Champions League in 2019, we went into the campaign with high hopes, despite the warnings of ‘painful rebuilds’.

It quickly fell apart and in November, we had a new manager who took over with the club in 14th position. To finish sixth from that point, ensuring European football for next season, was a notable feat for Jose Mourinho but should we have expected better?

Deaf Ears

mauricio pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino

It was Mauricio Pochettino who mentioned the painful rebuild and, while nobody knows exactly what would have been discussed between manager and chairman, certain developments in January and July would clearly indicate that he was right.

Last summer, shortly after that Champions League final, stories began to emerge surrounding Christian Eriksen. Once again, it’s tough to spot the truth but those reports suggested that our Danish midfielder was holding out for a move to Real Madrid but Real didn’t want him.

It did, however, seem patently obvious at the start of the campaign that Eriksen didn’t really want to be with us. Opinions were mixed over his contributions to Spurs over seven years and while we were big fans, his move to Inter Milan in January came six months too late.

And then there was Jan Vertonghen: A big fans’ favourite who hadn’t rocked the boat, Jan was clearly struggling in the second half of the season. Almost as soon as the final whistle sounded at Selhurst Park on the final day, Jan was released.

Both cases would seem to back up Poch’s theory with hard evidence. There are others and it will be interesting to see what pruning the club undertakes during the transfer window but with Eriksen and Vertonghen, it was all a little too late.

The Numbers

Results went our way on the final day and we finished in sixth place. There’s no Champions League football for the first time in a while but, having been down in that 14th slot in November, sixth was better than many of us had feared. It means that we have qualified automatically for next season’s Europa League and we don’t have to worry about what happens in the FA Cup final this weekend.

Some would say that this is scant consolation for a team that had become regular fixtures in the UCL and others would argue that the Europa League is an annoying distraction. Still, it gives us something to write about here as we return to Thursday night action in the far flung corners of Europe. Of course, in the current world climate we can’t even be certain as to how the Europa League will play out in 2020/21 but we are digressing.

The final reckoning shows 38 games played, 16 won, 11 drawn and 11 lost. 61 goals were scored and 14 conceded leaving us with 59 points. We edged out Wolves on goal difference and, for those who feel this is the most important aspect of this or any season, we finished above Arsenal by a three-goal margin.

Pivotal Moments

There were some serious lows in the season both on and off the pitch and some of us are still coming to terms with the departure of Mauricio Pochettino. His fate may have been sealed after that heavy defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and while his returns were poor at the start of the campaign, who knows what might have happened if he’d had his wish in terms of playing personnel?

For us, the worst game of the season may have come later on and we pity all those who joined us in watching the 0-0 draw away to Bournemouth. That result had come on the back of a flat 1-0 win over Everton but from that point, performances began to pick up. In fact, the Covid-19 break was actually kind to us as it gave us time to get key players, including Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, back on the pitch.

There were some highs and the 5-0 defeat of Burnley featured Sonny’s goal of the season as he sprinted the length of the pitch to finish. It wasn’t, however, the best of campaigns overall but what can we expect moving forward into 2020/21?

What’s Next?

Harry Kane Injury

Harry Kane

Speculation over the future of key players is inevitable and after a subdued campaign, the media vultures will be looking at Harry Kane in particular. After another injury hit season, the England captain remained as our leading scorer with 18 in 29 league matches and 24 in 34 overall.

Kane was extensively linked with Manchester United when correspondents had little else to write about in March and April but the expectation is that he will give Jose Mourinho at least one full season to deliver on his promise and turn the team into winners.

The same principle should apply to Son Heung-Min who finished as our second highest scorer with 18 from 41. Elsewhere, perhaps the big question mark would surround Dele Alli who has looked lost for much of the last 18 months.

Beyond that list, would you be sorry to see anyone leave the club? Presumably neither Gedson Fernandes nor Spurs would be eager to extend his loan spell after the Portuguese midfielder was barely used. Moving through the permanent ranks, Lucas Moura, Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies might be among those who are available to the highest bidder.

As hardened Spurs fans, we know not to expect a big overhaul at the club but surely Jose will want some new personnel to drive his mission. The question of a back up striker remains after both Kane and Son went down with long term injuries and we appeared completely incapable of putting the ball in the net in late February – early March.

It’s been a golden period overall and, while this has been a disappointing season for so many reasons, we must just hope that it’s a blip and that Mourinho has the backing he needs to prove that he hasn’t lost his touch.

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