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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
The first time I saw Dennis Bergkamp play was in 1996 – I started following Arsenal properly in 1998 after the World Cup. When Arsenal then signed Thierry Henry – a player I had seen in that World Cup win by France – as well as already having Vieira and Petit there, plus several English stars like Tony Adams, Martin Keown and David Seaman just cemented Arsenal as the club for me. There was very little football coverage in South Africa during the 1990s as rugby was (and still is) the dominant sport here.
I was not really ushered in any specific direction in terms of which club to support – I chose Arsenal myself. It’s only over the last 3 years that I have been able to watch matches regularly – we get excellent TV coverage of European football now and I try to watch all Arsenal matches live.