A Season In Review: Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham celebrate against Chelsea

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Transfer Windows

Spurs had a rather large squad going into the season, so they had to have a bit of a clear-out in the transfer window. Instead of selling, they decided to let a large number of players head out on loan.

Bryan Gil, new signing Djed Spence, Harry Winks, Lo Celso, Reguilon and Ndombele all headed out on loan, whilst Matt Doherty became a free agent. Cameron Carter-Vickers found himself moving to Celtic on a permanent deal, and Bergwijn moved to Ajax.

This freed up a lot of space in the squad, and, strangely for a top 6 club, Spurs made use of the loan market. Langlet, Danjuma and Pedro Porro all arrived on loan deals, whilst Fraser Forster and Ivan Perisic arrived as free agents.

As mentioned previously, Djed Spence made the move from Middlesbrough, Destiny Udogie and Romero also arrived on permanent deals to help strengthen their defensive ranks.

Spurs also made two big-money signings from Premier League clubs, tempting Yves Bissouma away from Brighton, and Everton striker Richarlison also made the switch to the London club.

It was a very strange set of transfer windows for a top 6 club such as Spurs, they spent big on two players, whilst bringing in players on loan who may or may not be good enough for their aspirations.

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Managerial Changes

It is not often a top 6 club changes their manager partway through the season, but Spurs actually managed it twice within a short period of time.

Antonio Conte was doing a relatively good job with Spurs. He had them playing good football, they were being competitive in their top 4 race, and it was enjoyable watching them.

A few health issues meant that, at times, Conte was unable to be on the touchline on match days, and so Stellini had to fill his role. During this period of the season, Spurs looked miles better under Stellini than they did under Conte.

Under Stellini, they were more compact defensively, they were more efficient in getting the ball up the pitch, and they were scoring more. Conte essentially self-destructed when he came back.

With 10 games remaining, Conte produced an astonishing rant, whereby he questioned and attacked his own players. He branded them selfish and accused them of not playing with their hearts on the pitch.

He then went on to attack the club as a whole, stating that Tottenham are used to not playing for anything, and that the club do not want to play under stress, suggesting that the same thing has been happening for a long time, and that explains why Spurs have not won a trophy for years.

Check out that explosive rant here!

Unsurprisingly, a few days later, Conte left Spurs mutually. Stellini took his place on an interim basis, filling in til the end of the season. His reign only lasted 4 games. His opening game saw him draw 1-1 against a struggling Everton side, before going on to win 2-1 against Brighton.

That win was as good as it got for Stellini, as they then lost 3-2 to Bournemouth, who were also struggling at the time, before being absolutely humiliated by Newcastle, who lead 5-0 at halftime, after scoring 3 times in the opening 10 minutes.

A day after the Newcastle game, Stellini departed, and Ryan Mason took interim charge, in the hope that he could rescue their position in the top 4. In the final 6 games, Mason picked up 2 wins and a draw, with 3 losses against the teams around them.

In terms of managers, it was an absolute mess at Spurs this season. They were right to get rid of Conte, but they should have brought someone in permanently straight away, someone that could have got them back on track.

Instead, they messed around with interim managers who both did poorly, and they lost out in the end. Some extremely poor decisions from the board.

Key Games

Finding a particular game for Spurs this season is a difficult task. All their runs of good form came in the first half of the season, as they could not really string any results together towards the back end of the season.

The first game of the season stands out for me here. When you come into a new season, you want your team to look hungry, and confident, and you want them to impress the neutrals and rival fans, and that was exactly what Spurs did.

They looked brilliant in their 4-1 win against Southampton. They controlled the ball well, they made their shouts count, and they recovered well from an early setback. They showed they could come from behind to win games from the start.

The goals were coming from all over the pitch as well. Eric Dier was on the scoresheet, as were Kulusevski and Sessegnon, and they even forced an own goal out of Southampton. As far as opening days go, this was a comfortable one for them.

It also gave them confidence in their next few games as well. They came from behind against Chelsea the game later, and late on, to rescue a draw. They did not lose until they faced the then-league leaders Arsenal at the start of October. It pushed them in the right direction.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Spurs entered the Carabao Cup with a third-round tie away against Nottingham Forest. Spurs were awful in this game. They dominated the ball, but they could not get it to click up front.

They managed just two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes and were lucky that Forest could not find the back of the net in the first half.

In the second half, Lodi scored 5 minutes after the restart to give the hosts the lead, and Lingard made it 2-0 just 7 minutes later. Spurs were given half a chance when Orel Mangala received a red card, reducing Forest to 10 men, but they could not make the numerical advantage count, as they were sent crashing out in the first round.

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FA Cup

Their FA Cup campaign did not exactly go much better. They were drawn at home in the third round, against League One side Portsmouth. Despite a very strong lineup from Spurs, they managed just one shot on target.

Fortunately for them, Kane found the back of the net with that shot, giving Spurs a very slender and unconvincing 1-0 win, sending them into the fourth round.

They were drawn against Championship side Preston North End, and they managed this game a bit more effectively. A second-half brace from Son and a late goal from Danjuma gave the visitors a 3-0 win.

In the fifth round, Spurs were drawn against Championship opposition yet again, this time Sheffield United. Spurs looked much better in this game, controlling possession, getting shots off, and restricting their opponents to very little.

Spurs were a little unfortunate, as they conceded from the only shot they faced on target, as Ndiaye sent the Championship side through to the quarter-finals, and sent Spurs home much earlier than they would have anticipated.

Champions League

Spurs were drawn to a rather tricky group in the Champions League, having to face Sporting CP, Marseille and Frankfurt. Their opening game against Marseille was made much easier in the second half when Mbemba received a red card. From there, a late Richarlison brace was enough to secure them 3 points.

They then travelled to Lisbon to face Sporting CP, in what turned out to be a rather dull game. That was until the 90th minute. With the scores level at 0-0, Paulinho managed to break Spurs resilience, giving the hosts the lead, and Arthur doubled that lead 3 minutes later, condemning Spurs to a 2-0 loss.

Spurs then faced a doubleheader against Frankfurt. The first game was very even, but Spurs would be the more upset of the two, as they spurned their chances as they fumbled to a 0-0 draw.

The home game was a bit more frantic. Kamada gave the German visitors the lead 14 minutes before Son equalised 6 minutes later. Son got his and Spurs second before halftime, and Kane grabbed his goal moments later, ensuring they went in at the break in the lead.

Tuta received his second yellow with half an hour left to play, reducing the hosts to 10 men. Despite this, Alidou reduced the deficit with 3 minutes to go, making the score 3-2. Spurs and Kane had a late penalty, which he missed, but there were to be no late scares, as Spurs held on for a 3-2 win.

Sporting were the next visitors to The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and they look a first-half lead courtesy of a goal from former Spurs man Marcus Edwards. Bentacur equalised with 10 minutes left to play for the hosts, as both sides settled for a draw.

Spurs travelled to France to play Marseille in their final group-stage game. Mbemba made up for his red card in the reverse fixture by giving Marseille the lead just before halftime. Lenglet equalised moments after half-time for Spurs.

There was late drama in this match, as Spurs, who needed a win to finish top of the group stage, finally got their noses in front, as Hojbjerg scored in the 95th minute, giving Spurs a priceless 3 points, and ensuring their progress into the knockout stages.

They were drawn against AC Milan in the round of 16, with the away leg coming first. It was an even game, as you would expect most Champions League games to be, which settled itself on one goal.

Unfortunately for Spurs, the goal came the way of AC Milan, as former Man City winger Brahim Diaz scored after 7 minutes, giving the hosts an aggregate lead going into the second leg.

The second leg was a drab affair. A tight game, where Spurs could not afford to be tight. They needed to go out and attack, but nothing would sit right for them.

The game was essentially over when Romero received his marching orders late on, reducing Spurs down to 10. In the end, they drew 0-0 on the night, and got knocked out after losing 1-0 on aggregate.

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Season Overall

Overall, it has been a very disappointing season for Spurs. Another year with no trophy, despite having a good manager, one of the best strikers in the world, and a good team behind him, it was another poor season.

Getting knocked out of the FA Cup by a Championship side is embarrassing for a top 6 club, especially after struggling in the previous rounds against League One opposition as well. Their Carabao Cup performance was just as bad, getting knocked out at the first time of asking.

Spurs are dangerously close to becoming a joke club. They desperately need to win a trophy, or players are not going to want to come to them. The way they ended the season was disastrous for them.

After being humiliated by Newcastle, to dropping out of the top 6, it was blow after blow for them. With former Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou now in charge, will he be the man to finally end their trophy drought?

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