Here’s some old news for you: Spurs collapsed last season, picking up 16 points from their last 13 games, having reached mid-February on 53 points from 25 games. All Spurs fans have been wary of the same happening again this year.
Was the cause physical, psychological or a combination of both? A settled first XI was favoured by Harry Redknapp in the league, and AVB has similar inclinations (his frequent rotation of the centre-backs notwithstanding).
Injuries to key players – Parker, Kaboul, Defoe, Adebayor and Dembele means the new manager has been forced to rest them, which could yet work in Spurs’ favour. A mental failing has been labelled at Spurs teams of the past, though fans had hoped these had been dispelled after the late surge for fourth in 2010, which included wins over Woolwich, Chelsea and Man City.
Amidst all the justifiable acclaim for the most key player of all, Gareth Bale, there seems to have been an important issue missed: Spurs are again collapsing.
Since the last-gasp equaliser against United four weeks ago Spurs have lost to Leeds in the FA Cup, picked up 7 points out of 9 in the league, and now beaten Lyon in the Europa League. The results have been good and the disappointment at the early end to a possible Cup run has been more than tempered by the healthy league results.
But what if we choose to exclude Gareth Bale’s statistical contributions? He’s scored all six goals in Spurs’ four most recent games – each of them incredible solo efforts. Spurs have kept a clean sheet in only one of those games (against West Brom, who played the majority of the second half with 10 men). That would leave us with a solitary point from the last three league games, and in a very tricky situation in the Europa League.
Bale’s displays have been immense over the last month – he’s even being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by a press pack seemingly competing in the field of hyperbole – but it’s possible that they’ve also been masking a worryingly disjointed and lifeless series of team performances.
Lyon are next up again in a week’s time, with a rousing European night on the continent perhaps offering the perfect stage for the rest of the team to awake from their slumber. After that it gets really serious with West Ham away and the north London derby at the Lane. We can’t afford any more passengers on the Bale Express.