What’s gone wrong at Tottenham Hotspur?
With one win in their last five Premier League games, Tottenham Hotspur are languishing in seventh -- their lowest position since October 2015Updated: Dec 01, 2017 20:31 IST
Just last month, Tottenham Hotspur were being hailed as an emerging force in the UEFA Champions League after a dashing win over holders Real Madrid, but that success cannot obscure the team’s decline in the Premier League.
A dismal run of one win in their last five Premier League games has left Tottenham Hotspur languishing in seventh -- their lowest league berth since October 2015.
They trail leaders Manchester City by 16 points and are four points adrift of the top four.
It is a shocking fall for a team that finished as runners-up last season and were expected to mount a sustained challenge for the club’s first English title since 1961.
While their Champions League form offers hope of salvation, domestically Tottenham are stuck in a rut.
So what has gone wrong? Here AFP Sport takes a closer look at Tottenham’s malaise.
Forced to move into Wembley while the club builds a new arena at White Hart Lane, Tottenham have found the national stadium an inhospitable second home.
Having already struggled while playing their European games there last season, Tottenham failed to win any of their first three league matches at the stadium this term.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men finally got off the mark at home in the league in October, but crashed out of the League Cup against West Ham and were held to a draw by lowly West Bromwich Albion in their most recent home fixture.
Wembley’s pitch is bigger than the old White Hart Lane, which was smaller than modern regulations allow, and Tottenham have struggled to play their high-tempo pressing game there, while the much less intimate atmosphere of the cavernous national stadium makes it a less intimidating venue for opponents.
Tottenham have only scored more than once there on one occasion in the league, against Liverpool, and Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal are all still to visit.
Tottenham have managed just one win in 17 trips to the Premier League’s big six since Mauricio Pochettino took charge in May 2014.
That wretched run includes damaging losses at Manchester United and Arsenal this season -- making it 10 defeats in those crucial away fixtures in Pochettino’s reign.
Not since February 2016, when they won at Manchester City, have Pochettino’s side taken three points at one of their main rivals.
“There have been so many games even when Harry Kane has played where Spurs didn’t play with any personality,” former Tottenham midfielder Jamie Redknapp said.
“They have to improve this if they want to win the title. Pochettino’s record against the top six isn’t good enough.”
Authors of own downfall
Tottenham’s dip has coincided with the release of Pochettino’s book, ‘Brave New World’, which documents his time in charge of Tottenham.
Since the first extracts were released in October, Tottenham have won only four of their 10 games, while before the book came out they managed eight victories in 11.
Pochettino’s book detailed private conversations with a number of key players but he argues his relationship with his squad remains strong.
“I think my relationship with them is so strong and to find excuses about the book is wrong,” he said.
Dele Alli has come in for criticism after drifting anonymously through many games this season, with his lacklustre efforts in the defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal especially worrying for Pochettino.
The England midfielder’s only dominant display came in the win against Real Madrid, which raised eyebrows among Spurs fans since the Spanish giants have repeatedly been linked with a move for Alli.
While the 21-year-old remains one of Tottenham’s most naturally gifted talents, his volatile temperament is another concern for Pochettino as he tries to coax him back to form.
Pochettino was already worried about agents and hangers-on distracting Alli when he wrote in his book: “People all want a piece of him. The danger remains, as is often the case, that he will forget what has got him to this point.”
First Published: Dec 01, 2017 20:31 IST