Tottenham Hotspur crashed out of the Champions League last night; RB Leipzig won the tie 4-0, scoring three at the Red Bull Arena. Spurs now have nine matches left to play in the Premier League, with a lot of hard work to do.
Tottenham Hotspur Champions League Campaign Fizzles Out With Key Stars Sidelined
Jose Mourinho has continued to stress that he is doing what he can with the resources available. His reaction to Spurs’ recent struggle is largely that his club have been incredibly unlucky with injuries. Without key players, he argues, it is hard to make any real progress.
“It is difficult to speak about injuries, but you want me to speak about other things, it looks like the obvious is that the problems accumulate with the accumulation of injuries. If you want to make an exercise and imagine Leipzig tonight with Sabitzer, Schick, Werner, do you think they would win the way they did?
You go to the European champions and make an exercise? Liverpool without Salah, Mane, Henderson, Firmino. You want to go to Spain and do Barcelona without Griezmann, Messi, Suarez. Do you want to make this exercise with every team in the world?
I think every team in the world would struggle with five or six of their most important players missing, it is as simple as that. To look at it in a very simple and pragmatic way, it is as simple as that.”
Indeed, with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son back, Spurs would have had a much better chance of putting up a fight against RB Leipzig. And, this is partly due to the fact that they score goals. But, it is moreover that they can actually perform the role of a striker. Even then, Kane is the only true centre-forward in the squad. Troy Parrott remains on the bench, not ready yet. Thus, the club only have one striker in their ranks. Now, to use Mourinho’s analogy, taking away Liverpool’s front three, they would at least still have Divock Origi as a centre-forward.
There is no way around the issue but to sign at least another striker and look to integrate Parrott into the first team for next season. Otherwise, the club should send him out on loan and buy another striker on top of that.
Reshuffles and Rebuild
During Mourinho’s short reign, there has been a raft of changes. Three goalkeepers have played, the defence is always shifting, the midfield fluctuates and the attack has been interrupted. Some of this is due to the continuing injury crisis at the club, where one player causes a ripple effect, requiring more changes throughout the whole team.
When a new manager comes in, there is also an experimental period, where he must test out his tactics and personnel. Thus, previous age-old partnerships in Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have been broken up. Eric Dier has been brought in from the cold. Oliver Skipp got a runout, before being benched. All this hinders cohesion.
Furthermore, often Mourinho has had to tinker with the set-up, having to respond and be reactive to the opposition. Sometimes this has been due to calamitous individual errors, which naturally affect how a team should play. However, the fact that Spurs have no set game plan, tactics, the personnel generally results in poor performances and poor results.
This summer then, is all-important in shaping the squad and preparing for a more successful campaign next season.
Nine Matches Left
In the remainder of the season, Tottenham Hotspur have a lot of work to do. In both Dele’s post-match interview with BT Sport, and in Mourinho’s post-match conference, the need for Spurs to “fight” was a common theme.
Mourinho declared: “So we will fight and the players have to be very strong to fight with the limitations we have.”
Clearly, the club has fallen down some way since last year’s Champions League final, if all the players can do is fight with whatever resources they have; it is a last man’s stand to secure European football and to preserve that identity that Bill Nicholson among others helped to found: “It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe…. we’re nothing. We’re nothing.”