Tottenham: The unluckiest Premier League team?
Luck has conspired against Spurs this season – and not for the first time, either
Tottenham just missed out on Champions League football this season
Tottenham have, once again, missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League.
Now, this could simply be because Tottenham aren’t good enough, but I would like to dwell on a different aspect that might have hindered their chances this season, and indeed in others. Luck.
Let’s start with this season. Tottenham are the only club ever in the Premier League to amass a total of 70 points or over and not to get Champions League. So, Tottenham have exceeded what is expected of them but yet have once again fallen short.
Now, one could argue that times are changing and top teams are getting better and thus the points tally higher – and this might well be the case. However, I would like to look at the manner in which Tottenham lost fourth place, which demonstrates their misfortune.
After beating Arsenal, Tottenham were flying and rightly so. Their football had been of a very high standard and Arsenal was the last win in a 12-match unbeaten run spanning just over three months. But, once again, Tottenham let it slip and it was not down to bad football as they were unbeaten in their last eight games in the league – it seems as if the the club is destined not to play Champions League football.
However, where the central point of my argument lies is in the outcome of last season, where Tottenham finished fourth – that coveted position – in the league. Tottenham had battled hard to get there and beat the likes of Chelsea, a resurgent Newcastle Unitedand a solid Everton to get into a Champions League qualifying position.
However, half-way through the season they were being touted as potential title challengers and then came perhaps the biggest blow in the club’s recent history. Tottenham, leading 2-0 at 35 minutes then went on to concede five second-half goals in 25 minutes to their rivals Arsenal.
This turned out to be such a decisive blow that the Gunners turned round the 10-point deficit to pip them to third place and definite Champions League football.
Now, this may just be bad form from Tottenham to let it slip, but coupled with Fabio Capello’s withdrawing from the England role this is certainly where the bad luck kicks in.
After Capello, Harry Redknapp was linked with the England role and this started to unsettle the White Hart Lane dressing room as they were playing under a manager who was guaranteed to be with them next season.
Redknapp had not expressed any concrete desire to be England manager but the unfortunate timing of this allowed an upset to occur in the Tottenham players and they let it slip.
This slip was not so bad and they still managed to secure fourth place, but then the unthinkable happened: Chelsea beat Barcelona, a game that if they played again they would almost certainly lose, in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
And to add insult to injury they went and beat Bayern Munich on their home ground to secure Champions League victory. Both Bayern and Barcelona missed a penalty in open play that would have secured respective victories to add further injury to Tottenham’s men. Even fourth place was not good enough.
If we cast our eye a little further back we can see more misfortune befalling the Tottenham squad. It is the final day of the 2006 Premier League season and Tottenham enter their game against West Ham with a one-point lead over their north London rivals. The aroma of success seduced many a Tottenham fan on the eve of the fateful match and victory fo the first time over Arsenal in 11 years seemed imminent.
Ten first-team players suddenly fell victim to food poisoning. To cut a long story short this unprecedented event cost Tottenham another place in the Champions League.
It is almost as if fate has intervened in the various successes Tottenham might have had, throwing diversions at them such as food poisoning or the England job – but where I feel Tottenham have the least amount of luck is in their rivalry with Arsenal.
I do no think that it would be unfair to say that Tottenham have a stronger squad than Arsenal, especially this season, but fate has decided that no matter how big a lead they take they will never overcome their fierce rivals.
But, then again, maybe they are simply not good enough?