It’s a Thursday night and Tottenham Hotspur are gearing up for their first competitive game of the season. Due to rioting that started in Tottenham and spread around London, their Premier League curtain opener has been postponed until a later date. Watching the action unfold over the weekend, it was hard to get excited about the Premiership starting again without Spurs being involved. However, all that is set to change when the club takes on Hearts in the first-leg of the Europa League play-off stage.
And that is where the first problems arises; the Europa League. Last season, Spurs stuttered domestically but raised eyebrows across Europe with a series of fine performances alongside the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League. Yet, no matter how successful Spurs were competing alongside the giants of the game, it was against the so-called ‘lesser teams’ that they stuttered.
Struggling in the Premiership
The North London outfit seriously struggled against the bottom six of the Premiership and it remains a fact that is they had taken maximum points against the likes of West Ham United and Wigan Athletic, Spurs, not Manchester United, would have picked up the first Premier League winners’ medal in May. But it wasn’t the case. Dropping too many points and failing to juggle both competitions saw Spurs finish fifth and were, therefore, entered into the Europa League. Thursday then Sunday games are the match days now for fans and the fact still remains that the Spurs faithful will be forced to wait until December 3rd before their first Saturday kick-off of the season.
Harry Redknapp has already insisted that the competition will take a back burner with his focus being solely on the Premiership with six teams aiming for four spots. Unfortunately, however, we can’t see Spurs being one of the top four come May. While their rivals have significantly strengthened, Redknapp and co. have, thus far, bought in Brad Friedel, Cristian Cabellos and Souleymane Coulibaly. Not the three players needed to re-break the top four that the fans have been crying out for.
It was evident this time last season that Spurs needed a new striker and even more so in January but while Rafael Van der Vaart came in last summer and did a fantastic job supporting the front-line, the signing of Steven Pienaar did little to raise confidence with the Spurs faithful, rising more eyebrows than anything else.
And as August drags on, a new striker still hasn’t arrived and it looks more and more as though Luka Modric will be departing before the close of the transfer window. The links have been endless with Fernando Llorente and Giuseppe Rossi – two superb stars that have been mooted as possible signings but as of yet, nothing has come to fruition.
This has left fans tetchy and fingernails ridden with tooth marks as the clock counts down to the August 31st deadline. Yet, it certainly hasn’t left fans without the ambitious streak that they certainly posses in abundance. Manchester United is the first Premiership fixture of the season and although it has been a tough game in the past, fans certainly should feel optimistic they can pick up some points on Monday night.
The Red Devils will be without Ferdinand, Vidic and Rafael along with Evra a confirmed doubt; it is hard to not see an optimistic Spurs fan especially if the players pick up a positive result tonight. A win, heck, even a draw at Old Trafford on Monday night will be an excellent result for the Lilywhites, who need to hit the ground running this season.
So what needs to change between now and September 1st? Well, a win tonight would be a perfect start. Players need to be bought in, desperately. A new striker, maybe two, is a must. 19 league goals between the four strikers last season was a dire record in a team with title ambitions. Some steel in the centre of midfield wouldn’t go amiss either while a strong centre-half to compete with Dawson, Kaboul and Gallas would be a major help as well.
Removing the deadwood
But before all this, the deadwood needs to be sent down the river. Spurs had the biggest squad of all the teams in the Premiership last season and while Keane and O’Hara have been shipped out, more need to follow. Hutton, Dos Santos, Bentley, Jenas, Palacios and Crouch should all be shown the exit door before the close of the window and it is pivotal that Modric stays as well.
If Spurs want to assemble a squad capable of Premier League glory, selling their best players is the wrong way to go about it. If the 25-year-old is still pulling on the shirt next month, we’re sure we won’t be the only Spurs supporters celebrating like a crazed maniac whose team has just won the League.
Either way, this season is sure to be a chaotic one for Tottenham potentially Redknapp’s last as a result of the England job. It is now the time to show the players and fans, that the club can match the ambitions set out before them. As always, it is sure to be a rollercoaster ride at White Hart Lane but and unless a striker is bought in before deadline day, we can’t see them finishing any higher than 6th.
Follow Ben on Twitter @BenMcAleer1