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One of the most exhilarating Premier League seasons has drawn to a close and it is time for the clubs to introspect on their performances and improve ahead of the next campaign. The league was so well contested that eventually it came down to goal difference to actually separate champions Manchester City and Man United. Relegation battles as well as Champion's League spots were all decided on the last day, with the final Champions League spot being clinched as late as yesterday following the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
A club that has during the course of this season been praised for its exciting brand of football, Tottenham Hotspur and its fans will have mixed feelings regarding this campaign. They have improved by leaps and bounds, a fact backed by their short-lived title challenge, which while being premature was still encouraging. But missing out on 3rd spot and with it automatic qualification for the Champions League will be a bitter pill to swallow. Third place was theirs to lose and they handed it to their bitter rivals Arsenal after an almighty collapse. Whether that is attributed to the squad being unsettled due to the rumours swirling around about the manager's future or just a thin squad which fell flat at crucial moments, the bottom line is that it is the Europa League and not the Champions League they will participate in next year.
First things first, should Redknapp be at WHL next season? He only has a year left on his contract, and there haven't been any indications of renewal. It seems likely that he would continue, after all he has gotten them a second 4th spot in 3 years. His man-management abilities have never been in question; his strengths lie in getting the best out of his players. To handle impulsive and often difficult players like Adebayor, and Van de Vaart is a tough job and he deserves plaudits for handling them. But Harry isn't the most tactically sound manager around, nor does he display an ability to learn quickly. He has often got his formations wrong; the 4-2-3-1 was a bit too defensive in home games when they should be looking to attack.
He was clearly tempted by the England job and his pals in the media made no effort to curb the speculation, which clearly had a negative impact on the players at a vital time in the season. He realises that this is the highest club he could hope to manage now, and Spurs would most probably give him another season to see if he can improve.
But can Spurs improve? The potential is there, but it's been there for a number of years. Inexplicably Spurs have been the almost-there club for quite a while now, a point highlighted by William Gallas himself, when he said after the FA Cup final loss that Spurs still had some way to go before competing with the top teams. 2 fourth positions in 3 years indicates they are improving, but this season they should've finished 3rd and the fact that they are disappointed with 4th shows that they have indeed improved.
But in order for Spurs to improve further, it is imperative that first and foremost they keep their top players, something Daniel Levy has promised. It is difficult to find players like Modric and Bale, and Spurs only stand to lose if these players walk away. Rumours have started to swirl regarding the two stars. And, the fact that Modric rejected a team that went on to win the CL final this year and qualified at the expense of his current team doesn't help matter either. Chairman Levy has to find a delicate balance between maintaining the club's wage structure, acquiring new players and selling deadwood.
Spurs need reinforcement in all areas of the pitch, especially Centre-Backs, Strikers and Wings. Players like Jan Vertonghen are few to come by, less so because their preference to play at Spurs. Levy has to make sure that such deals are closed swiftly and astutely. New strikers are a must. Adebayor has made a statement that he likes it at the Lane; he would be a good buy provided he drops his wage demands. Loic Remy is also in the picture but it would be difficult given only Europa qualification. He is fast but 14 goals in French league 1 isn't great poaching.
Levy needs to look at whether he would be the answer to the 20-goal a season striker Spurs desperately needs. Another area is the right wing; Spurs desperately need cover for Lennon. They seem to lose their shape from a 4-4-2 which works well because of their fast wingers and shift to a 4-2-3-1 which hasn't exactly worked. Milos Krasic has shown interest in the January window and efforts should be made in this area especially.
Levy has always sold first in order to buy thus funding all of this will come from selling deadwood within the club. Players like David Bentley and Jermain Jenas have far outlived their time at Spurs and in case nobody wants them even for a loan then the time has come to sell them, even if it means at a loss. There is no space for players like these with the likes of Tom Huddlestone coming back next year.
So what next for Spurs and Harry? Well, if all goes well, good players come in, Harry rotates his squad, there should be no reason Spurs don't finish among the top 4 again and even challenge for higher honours. If all doesn't go well, we would look at another season where at the end the Spurs faithful are left be saying "If only..."
File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee
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