Tottenham Hotspur were dealt two major blows to their season ambitions recently. A devastating defeat to Arsenal in the North-London derby saw the club’s hopes of finishing inside the top four diminish significantly.
Unfortunately for Spurs, their troubles only grew larger four days later. They travelled to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb in the second leg of a last-16 Europa League tie.
Having a 2-0 advantage from the first leg meant that most Spurs fans were confident going into the return fixture, but their reality soon turned into a nightmare.
Spurs eventually went crashing out of Europe in an embarrassing manner. There were some horrible performances in every area of the pitch, mixed in with a poor attitude, which led to Spurs’ worst performance of recent times.
These events have had catastrophic consequences for Daniel Levy. He faces the prospect of no European qualification at all next season. As well as this, Spurs’ hopes of ending their 13-year trophy drought now rely solely on the Carabao Cup final.
Usually, you would argue that there is always a chance that Spurs could pull off a win against any team. But the way they have performed recently, and the fact that they face a formidable Manchester City side, suggests that it is going to be a very, very tough ask.
There is still the possibility that Spurs could emerge in a late-season charge for a Champions League place. But the question is, how likely is it? And what needs to change to make it a reality?
Firstly, as is always the case with football, Spurs had to bounce back. Fortunately, they did just that against Villa at the weekend with an impressive, hard-fought display.
Their remaining fixture list is kinder than others. They face several of their direct rivals, who are also fighting for a place amongst Europe’s elite.
Spurs still have to play Everton, Manchester United, and Leicester who are also in the mix to finish in the top 7. Realistically, Spurs can only afford to lose one of those games, to have any chance of finishing fourth, and even that may not be enough.
Continuously, they must rely on others around them dropping points. It is looking likely that Manchester City will win the league, with Leicester City and Manchester United respectively filling the second and third places.
Therefore, it may come down to a shootout between Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs as to who will complete the quartet.
Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov backed Spurs to finish in the top four, during an interview in February.
When deliberating Spurs’ chances, the Bulgarian suggested that: “if they go on a good run, they could still be up there come the end of the season, but only if they are consistent and they pick up the points and other teams drop a few” (football.london).
For Spurs to bounce back, Jose Mourinho will have to change his approach. Worryingly, the Portuguese manager has repeatedly told the press that he instructs his team to attack games and not to sit back on a lead.
Clearly, the players do not implement these tactics. Therefore, Mourinho will have to approach his game plan from a different angle. What this angle will be, is impossible to predict; he needs to do something, or he faces managing a club and not winning a trophy with them. This would be a first in his career.
Also, it may be worth considering youth for the upcoming games. Jose seemingly has a reputation over the years of not providing many chances for youth talents to showcase their abilities.
Implementing one or the other into a few matchdays adds a sense of unpredictability to the Spurs squad. As well as this, Tanganga in particular has demonstrated his ability to play in the right-back position. This has been a real weak point for Spurs this season.
This hunger being showcased by those who would do anything to play for the club could be the key to revitalising the senior players. It could well provide the spark to re-ignite their season.
Finally, and the most ambitiously, Spurs could pile their hopes onto assistant manager Ledley King. If Jose were to lose the next few matches and face being sacked, King would most likely take over for the remainder of Spurs’ games.
In this most unlikely scenario, he could find a way to motivate players when Mourinho could not. The reality of this is almost non-existent, however, something has to be done.
It would already go down as a miracle if Spurs were to somehow secure a place in the Champions League next season.
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