The 2019-20 season was tough for everyone in football, but of the big-name Premier League clubs, arguably, Tottenham endured the most difficult of all.
Having reached the final of the Champions League in May last year, hopes were high that former boss Mauricio Pochettino could lead his team to challenge for Premier League glory in the new campaign. But that big night in Europe turned out to be the high watermark for Pochettino, and by November he was gone amid player dissent and poor results.
New manager Jose Mourinho certainly steadied the ship and fans were satisfied with the club finishing the season in sixth place. But as football fans looking for the best football betting sites on this site will notice, the odds on Tottenham challenging the top clubs this season are not fantastic.
As we get started with the 2020/21 season, it’s fair to say that Mourinho faces a big task to mount a serious challenge. Pochettino was known for relying on a small group of players. This focus, combined with the club’s tight budget, meant that the squad was smaller than most of their main Premier League rivals by the time of his departure.
With key players, Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen, leaving the club, and Harry Kane’s long injury spells throughout the 2019/20 season, the result is a major rebuilding project for both Mourinho and Levy.
Some of that work has already started. The signing of defensive midfielder, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, who had a good season for Southampton, seems to be a positive start, and he should be able to fit right into the cautious style of play that Mourinho favours.
At right-back, Mourinho has shored up the defence with Matt Doherty for a modest £13 million, and Joe Hart has joined the club as back-up to Hugo Lloris on a free transfer. With Serge Aurier possibly on the move, there was a clear need to strengthen at right-back and Doherty fits the bill as the type of player Mourinho typically likes: tall, strong and able to play in a range of positions, from full-back to wing-back and right-side midfield, though as a pure defender, he is a slight downgrade on Aurier.
Jan Vertonghen’s exit also means that the club will be aiming to bring in more central defensive options, which could open up the possibility of playing three at the back. The highly-rated Guillermo Maripan could be one option here, though Spurs will likely face competition for the signature of the experienced centre-half, who would be able to slot right into the team.
Providing more strength and solidity to the midfield and backline is an important part of the rebuilding project, but the pressing need is upfront. Harry Kane may be a legend, but he is an injury-prone legend, and in his absence, there is very little support, which means Tottenham could go long periods of the season without a cutting edge. Comparing their threadbare attacking line-up to the all-star strike forces at Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and even Arsenal, is enough to make the typical Tottenham fan despair.
Callum Wilson would have been a ready-made striker who went straight into the team, but Tottenham missed out after the player signed for Newcastle. Demarai Gray of Leicester would be another option, as the former Birmingham City star has struggled to earn a regular starting spot in the first team at the King Power Stadium under Brendan Rodgers.
Still, neither of these players are the kind of names that will enthuse Tottenham fans, and this is where the club needs to start thinking outside the box in their recruitment.
Tottenham have laid the foundations of a big club with a stadium that competes with the best. So big-name signings are expected from the fans. No-one expects them to be going in for Lionel Messi, but if the club truly wants to compete with the likes of Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, then they need to be prepared to break their restrictive transfer rules.
Spurs have a lot of ground to make up on their Premier League rivals. The good news is that Mourinho is a manager who focuses on success in the here and now rather than long term rebuilding, so he could be the man to propel Tottenham back to the top four. It is now time for the club to dig deep and back him by making the big-name signings that can transform their fortunes.
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