There remains more questions than answers over the direction of Tottenham Hotspur’s season after their 2-1 defeat away to Leicester City on Saturday. Spurs current run of form is a far cry from the high of reaching their first ever Champions League final only back in May.
That crazy night in Amsterdam, where Lucas Moura’s dramatic second half hat trick to beat Ajax on away goals will live long in the memory, is a world apart from Tottenham’s away form in the Premier League, where they have failed to win on their travels since January 20, overcoming then relegation fodder Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Why is Tottenham struggling?
One of the main reasons Spurs have struggled lately is their inability to hold onto a lead.
Against Leicester, Harry Kane had given Tottenham the upper hand in the first half with his fourth goal of the season, before goals from Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison turned the game around for the Foxes.
This result came only days after Tottenham had thrown away a two goal led away at Olympiakos in their Champions League group B opener, where they displayed a lack of composure and control in the game, and were often guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at a level where such carelessness is ruthlessly punished.
This left manager Mauricio Pochettino frustrated, accusing his players of not respecting his game plan.
Yet what will hurt Tottenham supporters the most is how they surrendered a 2-0 lead at fierce rivals Arsenal, allowing the Gunners to claw their way back in the game to rescue a point.
Tottenham too soft to be contenders?
Going into this season, an argument could have been made that the north Londoners were a decent outside bet to win the Premier League. Some though Spurs were more than capable of challenging Manchester City and Liverpool. Tottenham so far have looked way short of being title contenders.
The White Hart Lane side have all too often shown a softness throughout their side, and after Saturday’s result many of the Tottenham faithful have called into the question the apparent lack of character in the side.
Defensive midfielder Eric Dier has yet to play a single minute of football so far this season. However, even though his form was highly criticized last season, his abilities in putting out the fires screening the back four may be in need if Tottenham are going to hold onto an advantage in a game.
Eriksen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Pochettino futures in doubt
Yet there are looming wider questions over the Tottenham squad. Christian Eriksen is out of contract next summers, as is Spurs’ defensive partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. All three can talk to any club over a transfer from January.
Last summer, the club showed its intent by breaking its transfer fee record by splashing out £54 million on Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, alongside the arrival of Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham for £24 million, and Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis on a year long loan deal with an option to buy once that agreement has expired.
Overall, the net spend was just over £70 million following the departures of Kieran Trippier for £20 million to Atletico Madrid, and Vincent Janssen, who left for Monterrey for just over £8 million.
It remains to be seen whether the club’s new White Hart Lane stadium will allow more aggressive spending in the future, competing with the likes of champions Manchester City.
Last Friday the club released its figures for the refinancing of the debt for the stadium, with £525 million being raised through the sale of bonds, which were described as being “significantly oversubscribed”, these are debts that will take thirty years to mature
A further £112 million loan will be provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with HSBC providing an additional revolving facility.
Pochettino will be hoping that the highly impressive new arena will create the necessary revenue streams to supply the investment to advance his squad further. However, how long he will stay at the club perhaps is uncertain, he said himself he may have left if he had led Tottenham to its first ever European Cup triumph.
The Argentinean certainly has his admirers elsewhere, and has been linked to the Manchester United job, and recent reports have suggested that he is on Real Madrid’s wish list, and could be an alternative to Zinedine Zidane, who has become under fire soon into his second spell as manager at the Bernabeu.
Despite all the good work that has been done during Pochettino’s reign, a major trophy still eludes him and the club since its League Cup victory eleven years ago, they will need to start hanging onto goal leads if that trend is to be reversed.