After selling Gareth Bale for a record-breaking €100 million last season, Tottenham went on a purchasing spree that saw them break their own transfer record three times, bringing in a plethora of flair players and attackers to replace the outgoing Welshman.
The additions led many to believe that Spurs were finally ready to challenge for honours but it was not to be as the North Londoners were unable to match the traditional big guns and eventually finished a disappointing sixth, especially considering the pre-season hype.
None of the new arrivals managed to make a mark in the Premier League, either struggling through injury or being unable to keep up with the league’s pace and physicality. A porous defence saw them concede 51 times; more than any other team in the top six.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has been brought in to replace caretaker manager Tim Sherwood and it is telling that the Argentine has opted to only target defensive recruitments in order to shore up the defence.
The weakest link
Tottenham are by far the weakest link in the league’s big six and finished below Everton, who would be hoping to pip them to the final European spot as Manchester United are almost certain to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish.
However, the Spurs camp seems to be quietly confident about the upcoming season as the problems in defence have been addressed and last year’s signings have had time to acclimitise to the league.
Young English centre-back Eric Dier has been signed from Sporting Lisbon while left-back Ben Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm come in from Swansea.
All three are shrewd purchases as the former is an exciting talent, brought in for just €5 million, and the latter two are established Premier League players and will provide stability at the back when called upon.
Tottenham are also almost certain to sign Mateo Musacchio in the upcoming days from Villareal and the Argentine will be paired with Belgian Jan Vertonghen at centre-back. Mushacchio is a step up from the current options of Michael Dawson, Younus Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches, and will also allow Spurs to build from the back.
American right-back DeAndre Yedlin has been signed for a relatively modest fee to complete a set of signings in all defensive positions; a yardstick regarding the lack of trust that the club had in its current defensive players.
Pochettino is also desperate to bring in Morgan Schneiderlin from former club Southampton to provide some steel in front of the defence and protect the back four, but the Saints seem determined to play hardball after already losing six first team players this transfer window.
With an embarrassment of riches up front, Spurs fans will be hoping that the influx of defenders will provide balance to the squad. However, the club seems to be filled with a number of above-average players but no world-class ones. This was evident against the best sides, against whom Tottenham struggled last season.
Fighting for Europe
The club’s ambitions are surely more modest this time around, and will be aiming for a top-four finish at the most, and even a top six finish next season cannot be considered a disappointing result, especially considering the way their rivals have strengthened.
However, Pochettino proved at Southampton that he has a happy knack of bringing out the best of mediocre players and if he can do so at Spurs, then we may just have a surprise title-contender on our hands.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.
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