The back-end of the league season was troublesome for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Injuries kicked in, presumably due at least in part to tired legs becoming more susceptible to muscular injuries. The key players that were fit struggled for form, presumably due at least in part to tired legs and tired minds stopping them from performing to their best.
Essentially, Spurs looked knackered; the lack of depth meant that fighting on two fronts was a challenge that the squad wasn’t quite up to and so the Champions League was prioritised and we limped over the line in the league, partly in thanks to those around us also finishing poorly.
With the Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld situations looking precarious, Spurs will likely have two more key players to replace on top of the squad re-build already required. The risk of not signing anyone for the past two windows and yet just about carrying on like everything is fine has been praised.
But all of that praise will fade away to nothing if Spurs have left too much to do in one window and end up falling back as a result. The stadium debt means that year-on-year Champions League qualification is essential.
With the fixtures released, Spurs’ pre-Christmas fixtures would challenge even the strongest of squads.
Tue 3 Dec Manchester United A
Sat 7 Dec Burnley H
Sat 14 Dec Wolverhampton Wanderers A
Wed 18 Dec Carabao Cup Round Five
Sat 21 Dec Chelsea H
Likewise, the period at the end of January/start of February will surely see Pochettino need to rotate, particularly if Spurs are still in other cup competitions.
Sat 25 Jan Emirates FA Cup 4
Wed 29 Carabao Cup Semi-Final (2)
Sat 1 Feb Manchester City H
Sat 8 Feb Aston Villa A – matches to be played 8 or 15 February
Sat 22 Feb Chelsea A
Sat 29 Feb Wolverhampton Wanderers H
Pochettino survived the season with basically two fit central midfielders at any one time. That will be a crucial area to upgrade, and the strong links with Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon are highly encouraging. Besides midfield, full-back is a concern.
Pochettino has gone from having two options on either side and enjoying plenty of rotation to keep everyone fresh, to not even being convinced that he has one right-back he likes and, on the left, having a player in Danny Rose who can only really manage one game a week.
Attacking midfield and central defence will need reinforcements should Eriksen and Alderweireld leave, and perhaps an additional extra body in each, particularly with other exits possible.
Fernando Llorente leaving may not seem that big a loss on the surface, but he played 1,247 minutes this season, and it would be wise for the management team to plan who might take those minutes next season should we suffer similar injury problems again.
Football fixture release day is not a date that particularly excites me — ‘FIXTURE SHOCKER: each team plays each other team twice’ — but this year it has come as a stark reminder that Spurs have a lot of business to do in a short space of time. 58 days and counting.