A few weeks ago, Tottenham Hotspur were preparing for a double trophy assault, with their Europa League and Capital One Cup campaigns still very much on track.
Games against Fiorentina and Chelsea ultimately ensured there would be no silverware in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge at White Hart Lane. But his squad was still more than capable of making a late march to a top-four finish.
After all, Liverpool’s 2015 form has shown you can come from nowhere to shake up the Champions League qualifying battle, and Tottenham were not exactly coming from nowhere.
But following Spurs’ 3-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, the North London club find themselves six points behind Louis van Gaal’s side with time running out.
What Sunday proved is that while Tottenham have a wonderful young squad – and that is undeniable – they are lacking an experienced central midfielder to quickly stem the tide when things are not going their way.
A player like Morgan Schneiderlin, who was amazing in Southampton’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea earlier that day; a player who would have seen United begin to run riot and do everything in his power to stop it.
In Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, Tottenham have a young duo who offer much and will both grow into wonderful footballers. But the Algerian would have benefited from a more experienced partner on Sunday; and for that reason Pochettino will surely strengthen his central area with a tried-and-tested player rather than a young project in the making when the time comes to do so.