The Lilywhites finished in 6th place last season ten points outside of the top four. Over the several seasons they have flirted with a Champions League top four berth having succeeded in 2011/12 and previously in 2009/10. While success always seems within their grasp they just cannot seize and hold it. This is down to two major reasons, a dysfunctional transfer process and mixed priorities.
Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, does not have full control of the transfer window process. Chairman, Daniel Levy, and a small cadre of Board Members dubbed The Committee have considerable say and mostly likely final say over who comes and who goes. This explains why top players like Rafael Van Der Vaart, Luka Modric and more recently Gareth Bale are sold without suitable replacements being found. Top class players leave and solid, but not world-class, players replace them. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado are good but don’t bring the same level of firepower as Gareth Bale did. This can be a good way to make a profit on the transfer window but not a good strategy for achieving and maintaining a Champions League berth.
The players who’ve been leftover don’t seem up for a fight, they lack hunger in matches, believing they just have to turn up play and win without having to exert themselves in matches. This was most evident against both Newcastle and Stoke in Spurs last two home games, there was no spirit shown, if there was only Mason/Kane and maybe Rose could walk off with their heads held high but otherwise the players just lost the incentive to win and gave it away on both occasions to far weaker teams than ours.
Another fundamental issue is there are just too many average players. Have a look at our squad and divide them into three sections:
‘Definite Champions League Quality’ (DCLQ) players
‘Potential Champions League Quality’ players’ (PCLQ) players
‘Not Champions League Quality’ (NCLQ) players
Lloris, Lamela, Vertonghen, Eriksen, Walker
Vorm, Stambouli, Chadli, Soldado, Dier, Davies, Dembele, Townsend, Kane, Adebayor (I would include Mason and Kane but they both lack experience at that level)
Capoue, Kaboul, Lennon, Naughton, Rose, Paulinho, Chiriches
Secondly, as mentioned before, the squad is not being played/utilised to its best ability. And many of the players who have been with us for 2 or 3 seasons haven’t been played in their best position, in the best formation for the squad at hand at the time, for a LONG time.
This has meant that confidence is incredibly low for some key players – e.g.: Soldado, Lennon, Paulinho – and that players less experienced at dealing with being played out of position in a squad where the manager doesn’t know his best starting XI after eleven games (i.e.: they haven’t been at Spurs very long) don’t really know what their role is and aren’t playing to their best either.
I sound like a broken record but if Levy had done a better job in the transfer window following our pretty good Champions League season, not sacked our third best manager of all time and spent the Bale money more on proven players rather than the majority of players who he thought might make us some cash in the future, we might not be in this position of mid-table mediocrity.