"Let's Sign Chelsea's African Star" - Spurs' 2013/14 End Of Season Review
What’s going right?
Our ability to beat lower-placed sides, often whilst playing quite badly. Signs of life from some of last summer's signings.
Completely falling apart against any competent team, and West Ham. While the season might have turned on the change of manager, the results stayed largely the same. For the accusations of AVB playing dull football, I hoped he was trying to keep things tight while the new players were getting settled, which seemed sensible. The a*** fell out of our defending when he was sacked, and the goals from Adebayor (and genius of Lloris) have generally been the only thing that have got us through matches. The complete capitulation against good sides didn't change either, and hints at something fundamentally wrong in the squad.
Got the right manager?
Oh good lord no. I assume Tim Sherwood will have been shown the door by the time this is published (not that he'll need it, given that "he knows his way around the place"... which was the only thing really going in favour for him getting the job in the first place).
Sherwood's main contribution was constantly picking Bentaleb just to prove he hadn't been pissing around with the youth squad. Either that, or he accidentally wrote his name on the whiteboard in permanent marker and was too proud to admit his mistake. I do worry that being overwhelmed against the bigger teams will dent the player's confidence, as he looks like a very capable, deep-lying passer.
Then there's his tactics. The decision to keep Eriksen wide left while playing Chadli behind the striker through most of the spring months goes down as eccentric at best. The bizarre selection at Chelsea was a low point.
Hugo Lloris, who has continued to be absolutely world class. His style would be terrifying if his quality wasn't incredibly reassuring. He's kept us in matches while being kept very busy behind a defence which never settled and had the bad versions of Kaboul and Dawson in it quite often. Tears will be shed in the summer, when he presumably heads to PSG. But no one will begrudge him going to the level he should be playing at.
Honourable mentions: Adebayor (who showed all sides of him by falling out completely with a manager for the third time, then coming back in and playing extremely well, then tailing off), and Christian Eriksen (superb since coming back from injury, and will hopefully be even better when he plays through the middle next season).
Who would you like to sell in the summer?
Unfortunately I think Dawson might be finished. Even with Lloris behind him, his weaknesses have been shown up too often. He's also had too many worries over his own form to provide leadership during the shambolic defeats. If a good offer comes in for Townsend while his stock's high, I'd take it before other teams realise he looks like he's doing a lot more than he is.
I wouldn't want to sell any player who came in last summer, although I may be in a minority. All have had good moments and would benefit from being settled. I fear Lloris, Vertonghen and Paulinho (particularly if he has a strong World Cup) will be gone before the start of next season. Oh, and I will never return to White Hart Lane if we sell Louis Holtby, who is brilliant and comfortably our best looking player.
Who do you want to sign?
It's all about the manager coming in. And it should be someone who is known for adapting fast, to work with what's already there, as there's a lot of quality in the squad (although they will need an eye for defenders). This is why I am cautious about the Frank De Boer rumours - even though he'd hopefully get Vertonghen to stay - or my long-term first choice, Murat Yakin from Basel. Whispers of Rafa Benitez have started, and seemed to be cautiously well received when discussed in the pub ahead of the Villa match. A trophy winner at his first season at every club (even Inter, sort of) he's adaptable and could hit the ground running. Spurs could well offer the project he's apparently been looking for since leaving Inter. He seems to like England, and that might be what tempts him away from Napoli despite a good first season there.
We'll need to replace outgoing players, and talk of John Ruddy slightly scares me, unless he's coming in to play back-up (I'm being wildly optimistic in hoping Benitez could bring Reina if he's not going to Barca). Stephen Caulker coming back would be nice and we should be looking for two full backs although I can't see realistic options. I'd quite like Victor Moses to give a bit of pace and directness as a wide forward, if a new manager thinks they can get the best out of him. But now we can't sell the club to players as an ambitious project who are on the verge of the Champion's League it could be hard to sign anyone particularly established.
Best chant so far?
We sing what we want, apparently. Which is the usual: Chas & Dave songs and chants with a morally dubious word in.
Best opposition player/team you’ve seen?
I was at the Liverpool and Man City home drubbings. Man City had the air of a cat toying with a mouse, where every player is one you're terrified of - which I've not seen since the Arsenal 'Invincibles'. But Liverpool were something else, I've never seen a side play so well without the ball. They genuinely put in one of the best performances I've ever seen.
Biggest w***** of the season?
Tim Sherwood, by at least 45 metres. Jonathan Barnett (Bale's agent) is second.
Funniest Moment of the season?
The hilarious inevitability of Kaboul's own goal in the first minute against Liverpool.
The Stewart Lee-esque taking something which isn't funny (losing to West Ham) and repeating it until it's absolutely hilarious.
Next season's prediction?
Depends on the new manager. We had our chance to break into the top 4 while Chelsea, Man United and Man City were in transition and we wasted it, so I'll say fifth. And I'm afraid that might be optimistic. There still won't be any work started on the new stadium.