2020 is over and past! Everyone rejoice! Yes, it was the worst year ever for pretty much everyone, Tottenham Hotspur included. It’s hard to look back at the past 12 months and say with a straight face that everything went exactly according to plan.
It’s still worth taking a quick look back at some of the Tottenham Hotspur moments from the past year, because they weren’t ALL terrible. Some of them, in fact, were pretty good!
“Pretty good” is also an accurate way of describing Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Leeds United on Saturday. Spurs got a penalty from Harry Kane and goals from Son Heung-Min and Toby Alderweireld, pressed their opponents, and played pretty well on balance. Certainly better than what we’ve seen from them the past few weeks.
My footballing memory is pretty crap, and there’s just no way to include every bit (or awful) moment in a player ratings theme. So put your favorite (or least favorite) 2020 Tottenham moments in the comments.
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their win over Leeds, to the theme of 2020 Spurs Moments.
5 stars: Harry Kane returns as Tier 1 striker
We get crapped on a bunch for suggesting this, but in the front half of 2020 there were legitimate reasons to think that due to a string of injuries Harry Kane may never again recover to be the incredible player that he was earlier in his career.. We’ve never been so happy to be so wrong. Playing in a slightly new position in a slightly new way, Kane came out strong after football resumed in June with seven goals in nine matches to close out the season, and Vulcan mind-melded with Son Heung-Min at the beginning of this season to the point where he’s looking like he very well could have 20 league goals and 20 league assists when it’s all said and done. No, he’s not the same Harry Kane he once was. He might be better.
Pierre Hojbjerg (Community — 4.0): It’s amazing what a couple of days rest will do for you. A much improved performance over the Leicester match — he bossed the midfield and smacked a good shot at the keeper for good measure.
4.5 stars: Gareth Bale signs for Spurs... again
Only the most jaded of Tottenham hearts weren’t excited when Gareth Frank Bale made his return to the club that launched his career. Sure, he’s 31 years old now, a little over the hill. And maybe he hasn’t set the world on fire with his performances for the club since he inked his loan agreement, but come on. It’s GARETH BALE. He’s HOME now. Amidst a pretty crappy year, it was definitely a brief time when it was okay to feel happy as a Spurs fan.
Harry Kane (Community — 4.5): Extremely involved in the offense, took his penalty well, and had the vision to (again) find Sonny for an excellent assist. He was great. He also should’ve been subbed off much earlier to rest those legs.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.5): He’s back! Sonny was much more of a factor than he’s been in a while, despite not really seeing the ball at his feet all that much. His goal was excellently taken. Is his dry spell over?
4 stars: Eric Dier’s bathroom dash
Watching Eric Dier sprint off the field and down the tunnel during Spurs’ Carabao Cup win over Chelsea in September, followed closely behind by Mourinho, was one of the more bizarre things I’ve ever seen in a Spurs match. Turns out it was just nature calling, and he was back on the pitch within a couple minutes. The end result was not only a Spurs win, but Dier receiving Man of the Match... and taking a photo of the trophy on top of a toilet. He shits when he liiiiiiiikes, Eric Dier — he shits when he likes!
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 4.0): Leeds have some scary attackers, but Tottenham’s defense mostly handled the threat of Bamford (with one notable slip). Took his goal well too.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 4.0): Credit where due, Mourinho responded to the criticism of Spurs’ play by changing the tactics. At some level Leeds is a perfect opponent for Mourinho’s counterattacking style, but he also set up to press and didn’t cede the advantage until Spurs had the game well in hand. Much better.
3.5 stars: Ndombele’s Ndetente with Mourinho
One of the biggest stories around Tottenham in the back half of 2020 was the supposed feud between Jose Mourinho and Tanguy Ndombele, a disconnect that spiraled out of control and nearly resulted in Tanguy leaving the club this summer. The two have since patched things up and Ndombele has become one of the most important parts of Mourinho’s squad. We don’t know the exact moment that the Ndetente happened between the two, we’re just glad that now they’re both Nsync.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.5): Ben played well on balance but had one notable defensive slip that allowed Bamford through the back line. Even so, it was a solid outing. I think he’s benefitted from the competition brought about by having Sergio Reguilon around.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 4.0): Not much to do back there, but he commanded his area well especially on crosses and set pieces.
Harry Winks (Community — 3.5): I said in the post-match comments that Winks was mostly anonymous out there. That’s actually good — he didn’t make the midfield actively worse, and the things he was doing contributed to Spurs doing good midfieldery things. I would much rather have pretty good, anonymous Winks than the one who is out of position and lets players skate past him. So good job, Winksy!
Steven Bergwijn (Community — 3.5): I still think he’s being asked to play in a defensive winger position that he’s not fully suited for, but his performance was an assured one. Missed a couple of opportunities to score, but earned the penalty and worked hard.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community — 4.0): A slightly more subdued performance at the 10 than we saw in Spurs’ last match. Still had some good moves to progress the ball, looked absolutely exhausted when subbed off.
3 stars: Release of “All or Nothing” documentary
Amazon’s documentary of Tottenham Hotspur was one of the most highly anticipated sports shows of 2020, not least because Amazon THOUGHT they were getting a Mauricio Pochettino show, and instead they got Jose Mourinho. “All or Nothing” gave us more “nothing” than “all,” but it was still a really interesting behind-the-scenes look at a, if you’ll excuse the Indiana University reference, “season on the brink.” It may or may not have been sanitized Tottenham propaganda, but it gave us incredible social media memes. Really, that’s the most important thing.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Unusually shaky with his passing and in defense in the first half, but stepped up to make a few crucial stops in the second. I waffled between 3 and 2.5 stars here, but it’s 2021 and I’m feeling generous today.
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 3.0): He did Moussa Sissoko Things™ in midfield while we were up 3-0. That’s fine. He was fine. Everything is fine.
2.5 stars: Kane injures his hamstring on NYD/Son breaks his arm
Technically this is two moments, but I’m lumping them together. Things were already going off the rails right at the beginning of the year. First, Harry Kane limped off the pitch with a hamstring injury in a New Year’s Day loss to Southampton on a play in which he scored but was subsequently called back by VAR. Two months later Son Heung-Min fractured his arm (notably playing until the final whistle), leaving Spurs with zero recognized strikers apart from Troy Parrott. It led to losses to Chelsea and Wolves, a dispiriting draw to Burnley, and an FA Cup loss to Norwich right before the world ground to a halt. Things were looking pretty bleak there for a while.
I have no one that belongs here, I just wanted one more category.
2 stars: Dele’s racist coronavirus video
Oh, Dele. I’ve rarely been so upset at a player as I was after a private Snapchat video leaked online that showed Dele joking that a coughing Asian man might have coronavirus. He apologized swiftly, but the club was furious and you wonder if that might have been the beginning of the end of his tenure at Spurs.
Matt Doherty (Community — 2.5): Quite easily the weak spot in Spurs’ defense at the moment. Lost Bamford for a big chance and picked up two cheap yellows (even if the second was soft) to get sent off at the death. I just don’t know about this guy anymore.
1 star: COVID-19
It’s obvious, sure. But the worst thing about 2020 was, is, and always will be the emergence of COVID-19 and its spread across the globe leading to untold lives lost. It puts the shutdown of all sports into perspective, but those three months of uncertainty, fear, and without the distraction of football were really, really scary and bad. Things are still scary and bad, but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and there wasn’t back in April.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as COVID-19 and I will ban anyone who makes jokes about this.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Lucas Moura, Carlos Vinicius