The Battle for 5th Place – A Gooner’s View of Other Clubs of the 2014-15 Season Part 7A

Hi everyone. This is part seven of my series of blogs about the status of the Premiership Clubs of the 2014-2015 Season following the conclusion of the League season. In this blog, I’ll be focusing on Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. Because of the size this one will be split into 2 with Spurs first and Liverpool to follow in Part 2.

Of course, all of this is my own opinion, so feel free to disagree and debate!

Disappointed AGAIN!!

Tottenham Hotspur

I’m going to have to try to be objective here, as I have been for other clubs, but I hope my opinion makes some sense. Spurs started off the season by hiring Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton to take over from Tim Sherwood, the interim manager who had replaced Andre Villas-Boas. The major players who exited (at least in terms of transfer fees) were Gylfi Sigurdsson to Swansea (left-back Ben Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm arrived from Swansea that was a part-exchange according to Wikipedia), defensive midfielder Jake Livermore and then-captain Michael Dawson to Hull City for 14 million Pounds, central midfielder Sandro for 10 million Pounds to Q.P.R., Zeki Fryers to Crystal Palace for 3 million Pounds and right-wing Iago Falque to Genoa for 4 million Pounds, with Kyle Naughton departing in the winter window to Swansea for 5 million Pounds. Pochettino also allowed a number of young players to leave the club.

High profile exit to Swansea – Bad Decision?

The arrivals that Pochettino brought in were the already mentioned Davies and Vorm, Eric Dier from Sporting C.P. for 4 million Pounds, DeAndre Yedlin for 2.5 million Pounds (who returned to the Sounders on loan), Argentina international centre-back Federico Fazio from Sevilla for 8 million Pounds and defensive midfielder Benjamin Stambouli from Montpellier for 4.7 million Pounds, with Dele Alli signing in the winter window from M.K. Dons for 5 million Pounds but staying on loan until the end of the 2014-15 season.

Yes another DM signing for Spurs in Strambouli

Spurs had a very up-and-down season, having some very good results (the 5-3 at home vs. Chelsea a season highlight for many Spurs fans and neutrals) as well as some very poor ones (3-0 away to Chelsea, 4-1 away to Manchester City and some poor home losses vs. Newcastle, Stoke, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City – Liverpool, City and Stoke achieving the double over Spurs) put paid to their Champions League aspirations. The problem for Spurs was consistency with their results and not giving up too many needless points, which they managed to largely fix by Christmas (the only big loss after that was the Stoke away match in April).

Over reliance on a young man

Another huge problem was the over-reliance on young striker Harry Kane (Spurs’ best player in terms of impact on results), due to Adebayor’s issues (all Gooners remember him, and not in a good way!) and Soldado’s lack of input in matches – Kane had a good season but I feel he will struggle to replicate his form for the upcoming season, unless he changes his style of play and brings in more team-mates around him.

Other players who impressed me were Nacer Chadli (despite that awful top-knot hairstyle), Christian Eriksen, the much-improved Danny Rose (who looks a more competent left-back now under Pochettino) and Hugo Lloris, who is a world-class goalkeeper on his day. The emergence of Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb in midfield and Erik Lamela’s improvement in his performances also aided Spurs. The big disappointments for Spurs were Paulinho, Mousa Dembele, Roberto Soldado and Younes Kaboul, who all had poor spells of form on a number of occasions this season – Soldado probably the biggest disappointment as he has now had 2 full seasons there and has just failed to click for them.

Better than Jack they say!!

Pochettino and the players he has and will purchase for next season have to get the mix right and not let too many results get away from them in order to really challenge for the Champions League places – of course, for us Gooners, it is always hilarious when Spurs fall short! The other factor for Spurs to achieve success is for Daniel Levy, the Chairman, to cultivate patience with Pochettino’s aims – he has lacked patience with numerous managers in the past and may well lack patience with Pochettino in the future, despite always opening the purse for players and attempting to maximise player sell-on values. Since 2001, when ENIC and, thus, Levy took control of the club, Levy has hired and fired Glenn Hoddle, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas as managers, with a number of different interim managers including Clive Allen, Tim Sherwood and David Pleat having short stints too.

Big signing at right back

Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer are the only big signings that Spurs have made thus far – Wimmer is an Austrian international centre-back, an area where Spurs had shown some weakness and Trippier was Burnley’s right-back who came through the Academy at Manchester City. What will be interesting will be to see who leaves them – I think Lewis Holtby, Mousa Dembele, Aaron Lennon, Emmanuel Adebayor and possibly Roberto Soldado will all be sold soon for various reasons. Spurs need at least three strikers to come in if both Soldado and Adebayor leave to assist with the tiring Europa League campaign. In terms of midfield, it depends on who leaves – if I am correct about Holtby and Dembele, an attacking midfielder will be needed, as well as a wide man if Aaron Lennon goes.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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11 Responses to The Battle for 5th Place – A Gooner’s View of Other Clubs of the 2014-15 Season Part 7A

  1. azas July 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Nice article Tim. I think your missing a few players that we are trying to sell. Dembele isnt one of them. Paulinho, Capoue, Holtby, Kaboul, Chiriches are all going to go or have gone already. Ade and Soldado are going to be hard to shift and we may not get there. There is an argument to keep ade as he is in the infamous last year scenario. I have a feeling that if we get the right price Walker and Fazio could also go. Would be a little surprising right now but if spurs get Toby and the right back from Lisbon you would expect those two to go too. What is certain is that this will be one of the busiest windows we have ever had…cheers baldini

    • johnny spurs July 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      Tim you are a complete biased twat, you state “having some very good results” and then don’t mention us beating you scum 2-1 at White Hart Lane !! Try writing a FAIR article you prick

  2. J T July 2, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    Big Spurs fan here! I agree with practically everything you have said, particularly concerning our lack of consistency, which has to be our biggest flaw in the first half of the season, closely followed by our lack of stability in our back four. When you look at Arsenals back line over the last couple of seasons, whoever has come in, the back 4 has always been greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s what we need to be looking towards. My only point of contention would be concerning Harry Kane; having watched him extensively (which Spurs fan hasn’t?) he has been inventive, creative and spontaneous at times. For spurs and the under 21’s I have seen him pull off some great flicks and little dinks over the back line, and just look at his pass for Ings who should have opened the scoring against Italy. For too long last season, he was on the tail end of a move and was expected to go for goal and finish it; what he really needs is a complimentary strike partner who he can play with regularly and he is expected to bring into the game. His role has limited his game to finishing, so I ask everyone to hold judgement of his all round game until next season when he is part of the team, and not carrying them.

  3. KDH July 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Intelligent article so I’ll excuse the selective memory seizure on the up and down season section!
    You gooners just can’t accept it can you? It makes it soooo much sweeter. Lol

  4. paul martin July 2, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Fair article for a gooner, but think you missed under good results, when we did play you off the park with the 2-1 result at the Lane. I have frequently been disappointed that when we play the Ars, your players always seem to be more “up for it”, but not on this occasion. That was our best result as we were superb. Like it or not, there is only one London side with real quality and that is ……… Chelsea.

    Mourinho susses Wenger with ease, beats him then winds him up for fun.Wenger is daft enough to bite EVERY time. With us they just destroy us, so the 5 goals were a mere brief respite.

  5. Timothy Hargreaves July 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    Azas (Baldini) – thanks for your comment. What you said about Dembele surprised me, as I didn’t think he featured much in Pochettino’s plans? I liked him a lot at Fulham but he hasn’t been as effective at Spurs in my opinion, possibly a tactical/change of managers issue at play there? I personally hadn’t seen much of him outside of a few sub appearances.

    re. the other transfers you mentioned – Kaboul I thought just had a poor season overall and isn’t he the current Captain too? You’d be doing an Arsenal selling the Captain 2 seasons in a row! You may well be right about Ade – always plays well entering into his last year of contract, gets a new one and is then rubbish again for 2 seasons and so on – it may be better business for Spurs to simply let him leave for free, but Levy likes receiving fees for his players when possible. As for Soldado, I think Atletico Madrid might approach Spurs for him as they sold Mandzukic to Juventus and are in need of an another attacker even with signing Jackson Martinez recently (Torres is on loan) and Soldado is well-proven in Liga BBVA.

    It is kinda sad about Capoue as he was a good player in Ligue 1, so I’m sure a French team would come in for him, possibly one of those in the Champions League places. As for Paulinho, I really don’t know what to make of him – he looked good in his first 6 months and then just tailed off under the managerial changes. Chiriches has looked terrible most of the time so I’m not sure if Spurs would get much of a fee for him. Walker just needs some time and some confidence to bounce back, while I think selling Fazio would be an error after just 1 season where he played a lot of matches – it takes some players a year or so to adapt properly to a league so, like Walker, if he gets time, he may well improve more.

  6. Timothy Hargreaves July 2, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    J T – thanks for the kind words. It’s nice to see a Spurs fan saying some complimentary stuff about Arsenal. You make some good points about Kane – who, ideally, would you like to see partnering him? I said originally 3 attackers to come in if Ade and Soldado go. I’m not certain that Pochettino likes playing 2 up-top, though, so perhaps Kane needs more help from the wider attacking players like Chadli and Lamela in the mean time to take some of the load off of him?

    KDH – no need to remind me about Arsenal’s form being down-and-up in this case but Arsenal were the form team in the league following the loss on New Years Day to Southampton until the end of the season – it was the bad start that cost Arsenal the chance to challenge. Also, Arsenal’s goal difference at season’s end (and Southampton’s!) was much better than both Spurs’ and Liverpool’s, which is also generally a good indicator of consistency over the course of a season.

    Paul – that 2-1 at WHL was a pretty close match for much of it – Spurs just took their opportunities better. Arsenal were MUCH better than Spurs at the Emirates but Flamini made an error and Chadli capitalised I think? I know it was 1-1 anyway! Arsenal, after recently signing Cech, are pretty close to Chelsea, particularly in midfield – Ramsey, Wilshere, Coquelin (on his current form) and Santi are a match for anyone in the Premier League. Spurs aren’t far off too, to be honest (most of us Gooners were jealous of you guys having Lloris!), but ruthlessness in defense and more consistent defensive selections are needed, as well as more defensive options – if Kaboul and Chiriches are offloaded, as alluded to by Azas, at least 2 quality options need to be bought and they need to hit the ground running. I expect Spurs fans will want more from Stambouli and their other DMs.

    • J T July 2, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

      Good point about the 2 up top, thinking more of a shadow striker in behind him he can swap positions with and yes, contributions from the wing. I’m a big Chadli fan, I back him to near 20 goals next season IAC; I saw an article recently slightly tenuously proving that this third seasons at clubs are always a hit, but I like his all round game and he should do well next term.

      In terms or someone to partner Kane if needed, a Chicharito type player to give us that poaching option to worry the back 4 would be very handy. However, while I’m here, I just want to repeat what I have been saying to all my spurs buddy’s all off season and pretty much all last season; we need a midfield stalwart with bags of experience. I would love to see Cambiasso come in, I know he’s on the downward slope but he shown last season he can cut it in the PL and would add necessary experience.

      As for you guys, I hear the same thing every year; ‘we are on the cusp’. It’s the same story with us, albeit with different ambitions, and I won’t take that sentiment seriously until you go deep in the CL again, or make a sustained title challenge. You are great at making up points when the heat is off by going on incredible runs of form, but until I see Arsenal dominate the league for more than half a season, I’m having none of this title hopefuls malarkey. Your your midfield is technically similar to Chelsea’s, but they have experience of winning the big ones, and that’s what trumps you at the moment, IMHO.

      • Timothy Hargreaves July 3, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

        J.T. – I like Chadli too (most Gooners don’t) but 20 goals from him? I think he’s a talented, strong, robust player but that’s a bit too much to ask of him – 15 goals would be a more-than-respectable return for any wide player.

        The player who i think could have made a huge difference to Spurs’ season this last time out was Jermain Defoe – there would have been less pressure on Kane and Defoe is capable of scoring from almost anywhere on the pitch, as well as being a capable close-range finisher. It was unfortunate for Spurs that AVB sold him off (I think it was AVB and not Sherwood, anyway) when he did. I can’t see him returning so it’d have to be someone else. Who do you think would be a good fit?

        Arsenal would have been title hopefuls this season if we had had a better start and less injuries – Ospina did well when he played and Alexis was superb all season (even when he wasn’t scoring, he was the hardest worker in the team) but now we have Cech, who will likely save a lot of points between the sticks – Szczesny was average to poor, and that cost us IMO. We’ve got 2 F.A. Cup wins now on the bounce so we just need to build on the winning mentality – no-one can say either run was easy, as we got United this past season in addition to tough trips to Brighton and to Wembley to face a stubborn Reading and Liverpool, Everton and your own club the season before.

      • Timothy Hargreaves July 3, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

        J.T. – I forgot about your point on Chicharito – I’m not sure if he is up for sale or not! Looks like Falcao has gone to Chelsea, so what about a cheeky pop at Loic Remy?

  7. J T July 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Regarding Chicharito, I’m not sure he is favoured by LVG, and the fact that he was loaned out last season is telling. Not sure he would come tbh, but my point was its that type of player I am keen on, we have apparently been asking about Mitrovic from Anderlecht, who is a prodigious talent, and I would be keen to see where that goes.

    As for Chadli, he got 13 goals IAC this season, another 7 isn’t completely far fetched. The fact that he scored against you and Chelsea as well shows he can score against some of the best rather than just the dross. He’s my tip for next season (not that my tips are always right…)

    Concerning Arsenals position, I find it difficult to equate cup football with the league. True, two cups under the belt will spur the team on, but as you very well know, the premier is so hard to win. Injuries have not been kind to you, which has hampered the teams ability…I just think Chelsea under Mou have to be favourites. You, city and United and possibly a dark horse have to battle it out to be the contender: ironically, very much like the FA cup, I think you will have to knock the aforementioned others out before you can take on Blue Goliath. Have a good start, keep everyone fit, pull away from the pack, AND best Chelsea (good luck!) and I will rate your chances a lot higher, but that’s a lot to prove before anyone gets too excited.

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