Opinion: Hamstrung – Spurs at a crossroads

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

In barely 48 hours time we have learned that Harry and Meghan… scratch that, sorry—that our two most indefatigable players have been lost for most of the remainder of the season. Sissoko’s injury dealt another blow to a midfield staggering to find an identity and a plausible combination that works. Kane’s injury dealt a death blow to Champions League ambitions—this year and next—and puts the Levy/Mourinho project under substantial scrutiny.

This could be the moment—even more than Sissoko’s penalty—when we will look back and say: “And that’s when it all went to hell”. If so, I might argue for Son’s kick at Rudiger as the true tipping point—or “kicking” point—because no one will ever be able to dissuade me from the notion that with Son over that period of three games in 8 days, Kane could have been rested or at least subbed out and thus the inevitable and, this time, serious injury could have been forestalled or even have never taken place.

But consider this. Kane is now missing from the squad for the next three months—yes, he will be rehabbing and at some point begin training again, but he won’t be around to share in all that Jose is doing and saying. Lloris’ return means his captaincy is a thing of a past.

And frankly, if I were him, the England games in June will loom much larger than any scraps of a season Spurs offer him in April or May. He might take a good hard look round, and decide “that’s it—I gave it everything I had but I want to go to a place where a) I can win trophies and b) everything doesn’t fall on me—meaning maybe I can stay healthy”. How would Levy and Mourinho propose to replace him? Can they get a Bale-like haul? And doesn’t the results of those 7 players from 2013 suggest it is a sometime thing in terms of working out? Will Levy have the money—without Europe next year—and presumably with some declining attendance and lost revenue this season—to stock the shelves the way his manager—and fan base—believe they should be? The combination of culture shock, lost talisman, shaky financial situation and squad turmoil could turn one down season into two—and then what? Mourinho only wins in the second year, and then sees it begin to fall apart in Season Three. What if we simply can’t win in the second year?

The hopeful view would state that a) Kane’s absence may give Troy Parrott a real chance. Or—since we know how Mourinho feels about young players—allows a genuine back-up striker—younger than Llorente and more capable than Janssen—to arrive this month. That missing out on Europe altogether might just work as it did for Chelsea—as it is doing for Leicester—and give the new Spurs/Special One squad one season—2020-21– with all guns blazing in the league and for the domestic cups—the best ever shot at silverware. The summer sees the midfield and back four strengthened—the remainder of this year allows Jose to determine just who can help going forward, and who cannot. After all, we won without Kane last year—at the highest level—who is to say we can’t still see some victories—though top four seems fanciful—and the beginnings of the next iteration of what is still a wealthy and ambitious club.

If… Kane stays. Or if he doesn’t, we make very smart purchases to replace him. If..Dele progresses.. If Eriksen leaves, and we get a decent replacement soon… If the midfield is sorted out… And especially IF the defence begins to become tight again, from the keeper to the defenders…If Jose still can figure out how to win, nearly two decades after he made his biggest mark. On this particular day, the old “if I were a betting man” proposition comes up a bit empty, I’m afraid. But count me ready to be surprised. Beginning Saturday.

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