Spurs’ spi­ral the sign of a club in de­cline

Kuwait Times - - Sports -

LON­DON: Tot­ten­ham travel to Leipzig to­day need­ing to over­turn a 1-0 first leg deficit to pre­vent ad­ding an early Cham­pi­ons League exit to a sea­son spi­ralling out of con­trol. Satur­day’s 1-1 draw at Burn­ley stopped the rot of four con­sec­u­tive de­feats in all com­pe­ti­tions that has seen Jose Mour­inho’s men fall be­hind in the race for a top four fin­ish in the Premier League and elim­i­nated from the FA Cup by bot­tom-of-the-ta­ble Nor­wich.

Fail­ure to fight back in Ger­many will also halt the progress Spurs have made in the Cham­pi­ons League in re­cent years. Un­der Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, Tot­ten­ham went fur­ther in the com­pe­ti­tion for each of the past three sea­sons, cul­mi­nat­ing in a roller­coaster run to the fi­nal last sea­son. Rather than us­ing defeat in Madrid to Liver­pool last June as a spring­board to con­tinue com­pet­ing with the Euro­pean elite, Spurs have un­rav­elled. Po­chet­tino was sacked just three months into this sea­son af­ter five-and-a-half years in charge that trans­formed the club’s for­tunes.

Rather than fol­low the tem­plate of Po­chet­tino’s ap­point­ment with a young and for­ward-think­ing coach like Leipzig’s Ju­lian Nagels­mann, Spurs chair­man Daniel Levy was wowed by Mour­inho’s past. The Por­tuguese has 25 tro­phies to his name, but the last of them came three years ago and re­cent spells at Chelsea and Manch­ester United did lit­tle to sug­gest he was the man to take Spurs for­ward. So it has proved with Mour­inho’s neg­a­tiv­ity con­tribut­ing to the gloom around the club.

Af­ter los­ing Harry Kane and Son He­ung-min to in­jury, Mour­inho has re­peat­edly stated the end of the sea­son can­not come soon enough. The 57-year-old is quick to be­moan his lack of re­sources at what is now the eighth rich­est club in the world, ac­cord­ing to Deloitte’s Foot­ball Money League. How­ever, he was scathing of Tot­ten­ham’s club record sign­ing Tan­guy Ndombele af­ter hook­ing the French midfielder at half-time on Satur­day.

“My think­ing was that in the first half we didn’t have a mid­field. Sim­ple as that,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to run away and I have to say that Tan­guy had enough time to come to a dif­fer­ent level. “I know that the Premier League is very dif­fi­cult. For some play­ers, it takes a long time to adapt to a dif­fer­ent league, but a player with this po­ten­tial and re­spon­si­bil­ity has to give us more than he is giv­ing us.” Mour­inho dress­ing down an un­der­per­form­ing star player in public is noth­ing new, but ev­i­dence from his pre­vi­ous clubs sug­gests it does lit­tle good. At 23, and in his first sea­son in Eng­land, it is ques­tion­able as to whether Mour­inho’s crit­i­cism of Ndombele is the best way for Spurs to re­alise the po­ten­tial of their £63 mil­lion ($82 mil­lion) sign­ing.

Levy also has to bear his share of the blame for Spurs’ de­cline. As he over­saw a £1 bil­lion project for the club’s new sta­dium that ran well over bud­get and time, he al­lowed Po­chet­tino’s squad to stag­nate with­out a sin­gle sign­ing be­tween Jan­uary 2018 and August 2019. At the same time, Levy de­manded ex­or­bi­tant fees for play­ers that could have been sold to rein­vest in the squad and saw many of those as­sets de­pre­ci­ate. Chris­tian Erik­sen was sold to In­ter Mi­lan in Jan­uary for a cut-price £17 mil­lion with just six months left on his con­tract.

Levy faces an­other cross­roads come the end of a sea­son that Mour­inho so de­sires. Does he back his bet on an ex­pe­ri­enced coach by meet­ing his de­mands in the trans­fer mar­ket, or cut his losses on a coach he signed un­til 2023 in Novem­ber on a re­ported £15 mil­lion a year? —AFP

LON­DON: Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s Por­tuguese head coach Jose Mour­inho (L) and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s as­sis­tant head coach Joao Sacra­mento (R) look at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s Ar­gen­tinian midfielder Erik Lamela dur­ing a team train­ing ses­sion at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s En­field Train­ing Cen­tre, in north Lon­don yes­ter­day. — AFP

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