Redefining failure?


In 1997-1998, under the expert tutelage of Gerry Francis and Christian Gross, Tottenham Hotspur came 14th in the Premier League, amassing only 11 wins and 44 points. In 2012-2013, under the tutelage of Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur came 5th in the Premier League, amassing 21 victories and 72 points. This year we won 46 points since December 16th; in 1997-1998 we only won 44 points in the whole season. That year we lost 4-1 away at Aston Villa; this year we won 4-0 away at Aston Villa.

Yet, as the curtain falls on another thrilling Premier League season, Spurs can’t help but feel disappointed. Have we failed? Certainly not. Young Portuguese hot-shot Villas-Boas has taken the reins from King ‘Arry – sorry, ‘I’m doing you a favour’ ‘Arry – and has stabilised a shaking ship despite an ongoing battle with meagre resources. During the most recent North London derby – which we won 2-1 – our bench contained an off-form Jermain Defoe, an inconsistent Kyle Naughton, the young Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll, the new-signing Lewis Holtby and the ancient Brad Friedel and William Gallas; Arsenal’s contained the likes of Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny. Did we have a right to finish just a solitary point behind a team with that type of strength in depth? Arguably not.

We have not had a consistent striker all year. Jermain Defoe’s light shone brightly for the first few games of the year, before injuries meant that that light flickered and died out long before Emmanuel Adebayor found a tiny bit of form to finish the campaign. Gareth Bale has contributed 21 league goals, with the total from the two forwards and Bale being 37 in the league. But that is nowhere near enough. We didn’t have the resources for scoring enough goals, simply put. We only scored 29 home goals this season, including a combined total of 2 against Fulham, Wigan, West Brom and Norwich.

So have we failed? In 1997-1998, we were after European football. But no, not the elite European football, just the UEFA Cup. We finished 14th, which was extremely poor, but was it a comprehensive failure? No. We were mid-table mediocrity, we had survived relegation, and we could look forward to yet another consecutive season of top-flight action. In 2012-2013, our aim was 3 places higher than then. We finished 9 places higher than then. Have we failed? No.

It always takes time for a new manager to impose his methods and madness onto a club. Especially with the dramatic contrast between “kick it in goal, triffik lad” and “solidificate the cyclical object into the 8 feet by 8 metre target that has been planted into each end of the pitch”. As mentioned earlier, we amassed 46 points between December 16th and May 19th, with only 26 coming before that time. If our results from between December and May are extrapolated, we would receive 79 points. That is second place in the league. Does that suggest that if we hit the ground running next year then we can come 2nd? Well, why not?

What’s more, we have lost so many key players from the 2011-2012 season. Sandro has been out for half of the season. Kaboul has been out for the whole season. Modric has been sold. Van Der Vaart has been sold. King has retired. Granted, Vertonghen is an excellent player, but does he make up for the double loss of the Kaboul-King axis? Clearly not. Dembele and Sigurdsson have been excellent acquisitions – particularly the former – but are they on a creative par with the Croatian and the Dutchman? Clearly not.

Look at the above. Contemplate the fact that Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Kyle Naughton have made a combined 72 appearances in all competitions this season. Last season, Sandro couldn’t even make it into the first team on a permanent basis. Last season, Adebayor scored 17 goals and created many more.

Has this season been a failure? I think not.

We of Tottenham Hotspur have set our sights extremely high, and, although there may be disappointment now, next week and indeed perhaps even next year, think of the progress we have made in the last 15 years.

If 5th is now a failure, then I think that the current Tottenham Hotspur mentality can only be considered a success.

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  1. I agree the season has been a success and shouldn't be regarded as a failure because of a lack of UCL qualification. However with a little more support from the board a deserved place in the UCL would have been a formality. Still hopefully that point won't be lost on levy and the faceless ones.
    Avb has proved beyond any doubt that chelski were the problem not him, I think most of us already knew that anyway.
    My only slight concern is that a certain welsh lad carried us through the season and inflated our success almost single handed. Just how many points did Gareth gain us – was it 24? Is that not a concern? We MUST strengthen this squad EARLY this summer so we hit the ground running next season and not crawling.

    • We have been dependent on Bale, but I think how the season has panned out should go some way tempering this concern. Once the players started to adapt to AVB's methods we were really starting to look good: the Dembele-Sandro axis was dominant and a lovely fluidity was developing in our midfield. The loss of Sandro weakened us considerably and the absolute absence of striker in form meant that we had to draft Bale in to the centre as he was the only one who could reliably stick the ball in the back of the net. In this fashion, our fluidity decreased, we increasingly looked to Bale to produce something, and our reliance upon him became as self fulfilling prophecy.

      Also, isn't AVB's preferred formation 4-3-3, hopefully with the right players and more time with the ones we've got, AVB will have us playing increasingly in the exact way he wants us to, rather than having to make do and grind out results in the way we have towards the latter end of this season, which is both impressive and encouraging, and a hugely positive progression of the team.

  2. Great piece of writing. I'd have taken 5th in August and whilst I wasn't 100% sure about ABV I'm well and truly a believer now.

    We definately need more fire power up front (not more central midfielders) – We haven't had a proper strikeforce since Berba & RK left (Sorry JD/Ade). We also need some sort of backup for Lennon, we totally lack balance when he's knackered. Totally agree with the_chosen_one – do our business early (plus Messi or Ronaldo on transfer deadline day).

    It would be good so see Townsend and Carroll get a real go in the first team and see some of the your fed in.

    It would also be great to see Gallas retire……..

  3. Excellent article. In the time of and around second time Klinsmann played for us we were happy just to survive in the top flight. Around Top 5 for 5 seasons in a row was simply a dream. Obviously we should have bought a striker in January but if Sandro had been fit I'm convinced we would have been third at worst. There's always ifs and buts – for me the last 5 years has been the best since the Hoddle / early 80s era. Of course we want to keep Bale and I believe we will but our good times also correlate with Lennon being fully fit and at his best. Lennon and Bale wide, Dembele and Sandro in the middle and all we need is a strikeforce. I think AVB is doing a great job but please choose also stick with a back 4 – rotating BAE, Naughton and Vertonghen at LB is worse than sticking with any one (BAE still for me but his play recently reflects lack of confidence by AVB).

  4. Well written. We are not in the same league of consistency as Arsenal – yet. We probably will never reach the winning abitities of Man U, and certainly I hope that Mr Levy and Mr Lewis (although they could), dont start spending unethical amounts to buy a trophy. That actualy places us at a sucessful 5th. Last year due to pathetic goalkeeping in the final game, arsenal took a win from a loss, we could have been third. The year before we were 4th.
    The problem now is that Liverpool, Chesea, City, United and Arsenal are all out to buy big. We could end up with the scraps come the beginning of next season.

  5. same old shit spurs think they are a big club spend millions over the years countless managers no league titles for 50 years villa chelsea leeds man city forest liverpool man utd blackburn everton arsenal derby all won top flight since your last title biggest under achievers with newcastle . wenger has more titles in 16 years than spurs entire history time for reality check


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