Opinion: Top four is such an illusion

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

We aren’t good enough. Yesterday was a master class in proving that point. Anyone see Liverpool? We aren’t in their class. We can’t catch either Manchester team, of course—one of which will probably beat us next weekend and the other will follow suit in the Cup final. So our supposed Champions League chances boil down to whether Leicester and Chelsea both collapse. And you know what? Even if they did, I am not so sure we will outpoint Everton or the Hammers. 

Ten minutes into that second half and we all knew how the plot would end. We would squander chances to kill the game, the last of course from our talisman off the post. They would exploit our defensive weakness. Son on for a poor Vinicius would offer nothing and fail to defend as he always does. There would be a moment of confusion and someone—in this case, a Gooner on loan—would come in to stick the sword into us. But seriously? Did we deserve to win that game? Of course not. Last time I looked three people can rarely win you a game through their heroics when the other eight—and their substitutes (Bale taking that ridiculous free-kick as his first kick of the game? How stupid was that?)—do so little. Tanguy was brilliant, so was Kane. So was Lloris. And it wasn’t good enough.

Because we’re not good enough. There is no centre back pairing that works. Davinson Sanchez was miserable and made me almost wish for Eric Dier. Joe Rodon only marginally and both often confused about responsibility, no case more clear than on the equalizing goal. Tanganga and Reguilon were average—the former has the excuse of playing out of position, the latter a return from injury—but neither were stalwarts. Tanganga seemed hesitant going forward, The Spaniard not up to full speed but at least the crosses were well-placed. Hojbjerg looked knackered as he should be having played for Denmark—but I thought Lo Celso offered very little and at times was responsible for possession losses. Lucas wasn’t at his best and Vinicius simply is not at the level this league demands—he’s not even Joelinton, for crying out loud. So we were left with Kane and Ndombele and after the team woke up after Sanchez’ first moment of madness, they were good enough to put us out front.

And there we stopped because that’s how we roll. Because we’re not good enough. Son’s embarrassed smile when he passed up a chance to score the killing goal and instead sent a poor pass toward Kane says it all. First off, he is a waste far too often in games like this. He’s a frontrunner—great on the move when we are ahead and flying. But when a game gets tight and you need that moment of quality it won’t be him. Get the ball on left—dither, dither some more—then give it up and play matador defence as the opposition exploits your wing. I’m sorry to be so harsh—but this team deserves it. Lamela is as poor on a break as a player could ever be—always waiting a split second too late to allow the defenders to gather—truth is he and his teammates screwed up at least three counterattacks which could have produced the goal to kill the game. 

Because we’re not good enough. We might finish in the Europa League spots. We won’t win the trophy at Wembley if City decide they want it, and why shouldn’t they? If any there was any more reason to convince Kane to depart, why wouldn’t it be this game. His heroics are simply not enough to lift this team above its deserved mediocre level. We’d be lucky to avoid a relegation fight without him. And it’s not just Jose—this has been the reality with this team since January of 2019—more than two seasons ago.

Why didn’t you finish Top Four, Spurs? Why didn’t you go deep in the Europa League? Why didn’t you win that League Cup final?  Because we’re not good enough. End of story. 

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  1. I don’t disagree with what you are saying in the article, but I would like to make a suggestion about how Spurs have got to this place. though. I think it is important that a team knows who they are, that they have an identity, and that there are on the field leaders. For a few years, Spurs players were the backbone of the England national team, with players like Kane, Rose, Dele, Walker, Trippier, Dier, and Winks playing important roles in both the Spurs and England teams. One could add Davies and Bale, and a few others to that list, too, because although they’re not English, they added to the Britishness of the team. I think that made them a solid group, and maybe it made them work harder for each other. I watched their games, and they seemed to work like a team. As well, young promising English players were always being called up from the academy and seeing time in the first team. With Mourinho all that has changed. The players are from everywhere – Kane is the only English player who is not on the periphery. Bale and Dele, who are both potential leaders, have been marginalized, and many of our good young players are out on loan or have been sold. And the results are for all to see – many players are not working hard for their teammates, the tracking back is not good enough, the determination in the tackle isn’t there, and in general the commitment to the team is poor. I’m not saying that the team has to be English, but if you want to do well, a team has to rally around something. At the moment, this team isn’t rallying around anything.


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