Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur side have had a roller coaster ride in Europe this season, with the White Hart Lane faithful treated to their side playing some of the biggest clubs in world football and a Champions League quarter final appearance at the first time of asking. Gareth Bale has had centre stage to showcase his considerable abilities and won the PFA Player of the Year award on the back of terrorising Inter Milan and scoring a hat-trick at the San Siro.
However despite the London club’s exploits in European competition, their league form has been riddled with inconsistency. It is this inability to beat the teams in the bottom half of the division that not only threatens their chances of another campaign amongst Europe’s elite, but puts the side at risk of losing players like Bale to Champions League mainstays.
Credit where it’s due, Spurs have had a wonderful adventure in the Champions League this season, and after going 3-0 down in Switzerland against Young Boys in the Qualifying round have fought back and exceeded even the most ardent fan’s expectations. However the bar has now been raised, and the club’s supporters now expect Champions League football to be delivered on a perennial basis. Success is addictive, and the fans have had a taste and now want more.
Despite this a top four finish is, and will continue to be, very difficult for a club like Tottenham. Manchester United, Chelsea and much to the club’s fans displeasure, Arsenal, will always be there with the playing staff and resources at their disposal. This leaves one place for Spurs to battle the richest club in world football, Manchester City and the resurgent and reenergized Liverpool for.
As good as the Champions League journey has been, it creates a catch 22 situation as the players have seemed adequately distracted against the so called lesser sides domestically and the inability to beat teams that top four sides should be beating is there punishment for European progression. This was exemplified in their 2-2 home draw with West Brom on Saturday, making it only one win in seven league games for Redknapp’s team.
In those seven games Tottenham have drawn with lowly West Ham at home, did not beat Wigan at the DW Stadium or Wolves at Molineux and were beaten by Blackpool, all sides battling relegation. And it isn’t just recently that this has happened, as they lost 1-0 to Roberto Martinez’s side back in August in the first league game after the Champions League groups were announced.
This inconsistency means that the club will not finish fourth, they might not even finish fifth as Liverpool are hot on their heels. It is not only the fans that will have had a taste for the Champions League, Tottenham’s players will now want more also, and the likes of Bale and Luka Modric may be tempted to jump ship to get their fix of world football’s highest club standard elsewhere.