Inspired by this tweet from New York Times reporter (and Tottenham fan) Astead Wesley, we’re offering some of our hottest takes to fill the gaping hole between the end of the Premier League season and the World Cup. If you have any controversial opinions you’d like to share, post them on the site as a FanPost and we’ll feature some of the spiciest takes.
Fifteen minutes. That’s how long Spurs had to hold on to a one-goal lead against 10-man Arsenal to go top of the league. In March! I don’t have the energy or desire to figure out the last time that happened, but I’m assuming it wasn’t in my lifetime.
We all know what happened next. Alexis scored, Spurs dropped points, Leicester won later that day to go five points clear at the top and we never really came close to catching them.
The “bottled it,” “put the pressure on,” “finished third in a two-horse race” stuff is annoying and stupid, partially because no one else was putting any pressure on Leicester and partially because the team clearly gave up once the title was gone. But also because it’s true and I’m still mad about it.
We went into that round of games two points behind the Foxes. They won five games in a row, while Spurs dropped points to Arsenal and Liverpool in the same stretch. Those are definitely hard matches, but champions do what needs to be done, and Leicester somehow, someway got it done.
I still think about the two games against Leicester that season. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but giving up a 1-0 lead in 90 seconds haunts me to this day. We put in a totally lifeless performance in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane, losing 1-0 when a win would have put us squarely in the title race. We were playing catch-up the rest of the way.
Leicester finished that season with 81 points. Do you know how many times the champions have had fewer points than that? Just twice since the turn of the century! Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City all had down seasons at the same time. That’s probably never going to happen again! This was our chance! And we’re never going to have another one.
That fact was unceremoniously rubbed into our faces the next season. The best Tottenham team in more than three decades racked up 86 points, enough to win the league in half of the past 20 seasons. However, Chelsea emerged from their slumber to pip us to the title. Because of course they did — the odds of the rest of the Sky Six all having another down year were almost non-existent.
(Sidenote: I will never forgive Chelsea for being so bad either side of our record season. They couldn’t have timed that any worse. The moral, as always: F*** Chelsea)
Tottenham fans might have talked a big game about how we didn’t actually care about finishing above Arsenal, but of course we f***ing did. We might not have won the title, but neither did they, and we were finally going to get one over on them. To fall behind them on the last day (again) in such pathetic fashion was devastating and wildly embarrassing.
A friend of mine (who supports Arsenal, so really more like an enemy) said he had a feeling Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham be remembered like the Newcastle sides of the mid-90s. Led by Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, Andy Cole and later Alan Shearer, they finished second to Manchester United in agonizing fashion twice. People thought they would have another chance, but they ended up failing to win any silverware.
When he said it I’m pretty sure I laughed and told him to f*** off. It’s not a perfect analogy (Newcastle fell off a cliff for three years before returning to hang around the top four), but I think he’s going to end up being right.
There’s a good chance that by the end of the summer half of the starting lineup that finished second just a year ago will be gone and we have a mixed recent record in the transfer market.
We still have the bones of an extremely good side, but everyone is now a year older. Guys like Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris are definitely on the downside of their careers. A bunch of players are solidly in their prime, but it’s entirely possible another year without a trophy could hurt our ability to keep them (except Harry Kane, he is never leaving us).
I think we’ll stick around the top four for a few years, maybe have another close title run. We might even win a cup. But that season was our chance to win the league. And we blew it.