It seems like every season there is one big six Premier League club that is in the news not for their successes, but for their failures.
Well, last year there were two. Arsenal and Tottenham both had down years relative to their normal presence at the top of the table. Arsenal finished in eighth place, their lowest final spot since 1995, while Spurs ended their season in sixth. However, the Gunners won a trophy, beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final to qualify for the Europa League. And Tottenham, well they now have to play in the qualifying round of that same competition, a massive embarrassment for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The disparity between the two clubs continued into the transfer window. Arsenal has worked hard to resign star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and wrapped up a transfer for defender Gabriel.
Tottenham once again falls behind their North London counterparts. Their only signing so far is midfielder Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, a good signing but not enough to propel them back to their early 2010’s success.
With hardly any new talent and a quickly aging roster, Tottenham is in trouble for the upcoming season.
Many football fans like to call out Spurs for not winning any trophies and let’s be honest, they’re criticisms hold some truth. Tottenham hasn’t won a trophy since 2008. They haven’t won the league since 1961. Their trophy cabinet is fairly empty when compared to other London clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea. For some reason, they can never put their squad together well enough to get their hands on a cup. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, the club’s streak of disappointment is going to continue.
First, let’s talk about the manager. Jose Mourinho has seemingly managed every club in Europe and currently finds himself trying to stay afloat at Tottenham. Sixth place and no trophies aren’t going to cut it for Mourinho.
Even he expressed some concerns about the future of his squad after Spurs’ Champions League defeat to RB Leipzig.
“With the squad we’ve got at the moment, it is going to be very difficult,” said Mourinho when asked about his team for the upcoming season.
Mourinho does make questionable decisions off the pitch, frequently criticizing his team in the media but there is no doubt he is a great football mind. He’s not the problem. The roster construction is what has caused the Spurs so many problems.
Letting Christian Eriksen leave for Inter Milan has turned out to be an absolutely massive mistake by Tottenham.
Eriksen was one of the most underrated players in the Premier League during his seven seasons with Spurs. The attacking midfielder had an incredible knack to create goal-scoring opportunities out of nothing. He became only the second player to record 10+ assists in four successive top-flight seasons. The other: David Beckham. Pretty good company.
Spurs made the Champions League final in 2019 primarily due to Eriksen’s exquisite play through the knockout stage. He was the key to Tottenham’s offense. Without Eriksen, strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min would have been dead in the water. And it showed this past season. Kane battled injuries and only scored 18 goals. Son was arguably Tottenham’s best player for most of the season but had to create everything on his own. By the end of the campaign, he was visibly drained.
That brings me to the most concerning issue for Spurs: age.
Kane is 27. Son is 28. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is 33. With age comes injury. Kane has been unable to consistently stay on the pitch for the past two seasons. Without him, Tottenham looked weak. Their lack of depth is concerning when you consider the age of their best players. Clubs with depth find success in the Premier League, just look at Liverpool last year. They were one of the deepest teams in Europe and as result, they stayed fit for the biggest matches. Mourinho can’t be a good manager when his best players are out due to injury. We saw it last year and it is likely similar circumstances will hurt Tottenham in 2021. The roster is just not deep enough for Spurs to be serious contenders.
Tottenham still has time in this transfer window to bolster their roster and have been linked to Brentford striker Ollie Watkins, who would give them some young depth off the bench. Nonetheless, Tottenham’s roster is not built for the long haul.
They let their most important player of the decade leave on a free transfer and now face an uphill climb to inject youth back into their roster.
Spurs are in trouble. There is no doubt about that.
Featured Image: Thomas Ward/Transfer Tavern