Tottenham Hotspur were trumped by Arsenal on the final day of season last term and yet again failed qualify for the Champions League by finishing above the Gunners.
But Spurs’ disappointment and frustration could very well galvanize them to make necessary changes and implement a new strategy in order to meet their aims and achieve success.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Tottenham have not finished above Arsenal since 1995 when they placed 7th and Arsenal 12th in the English top tier.
Arsenal have not placed out of the top four since the following year 1996 – by that logic, if Tottenham want to gain access to the Champions League next term they are going to have place above Arsenal and break the trend of the last 18 years.
How can they do that? In order to access how they can achieve that aim they must first look at what they have been doing that has prevented them from doing so.
In recent years (the last five to eight) the gap between the North London rivals has shrunk significantly – likely due to Arsenal selling their best players. This is something Tottenham have been doing for years, the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, and Luka Modric to name but a few.
In the years that Arsenal have been operating in the same way, they have come closer and closer to falling out the top for. For that reason, an obvious no-brainer, Tottenham must keep Gareth Bale, first and foremost. That is the first necessary change to make – keep your best player.
Next one needs to assess the possible factors that made it possible for Tottenham to qualify for the Champions League the last time they did in the 2010 season. Back then Manchester City had only just begun their project with newly available billions and Spurs edged them out of the top four late on in the season.
Now City have cemented their place as a stable of the top four their stronghold means that Arsenal are now the club most likely to be ousted by Spurs. Tottenham brought in three players from Portsmouth that season – Harry Redknapp brought in players he had already established strong and effective working relationships with – Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Younes Kaboul.
I would suggest should replicate that under Andre Villas-Boas and bring in at least one of the following: Fredy Guarin, Rolando, Silvestre Varela, Walter, or in an ideal if impractical world, Hulk. That seemed to be the plan as Spurs were heavily linked with both Joao Moutinho who moved to AS Monaco. But the idea what obviously there – that is what Spurs should continue to look into.
The other notable difference in 2010 was that Spurs brought in Eidur Gudjohnson on loan from Monaco – perhaps they would consider bringing in someone of similar status on loan next term to add depth and quality to the squad.
Looking at the points and goals now – in 2009/10 Spurs recorded 70 points compared to last term’s 72 points tally. However, they won 21 games in both seasons but, crucially, they won 14 home games in that season compared to 11 last term. Home games are going to be the difference as well as goals.
Spurs’ goal difference in 2009/10 was 26 compared to 22 last term – these figures may seem marginal but lets not forget it was a marginal goal and points difference that saw them miss out this term.
Overall, Spurs have come closer and closer to, not only the top four in the last 15 years but, closer and closer to finishing above Arsenal. They need to push even harder and continue their surge forward next term.
It looks as though the recipe to that success is keeping Gareth Bale, sign some players Villas-Boas knows well or has closely studied, win more home games, score more goals and concede fewer. It's not exactly rocket science.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald