P W D L F-A GD Pts
9 5 3 1 14-7 7 18
· March 2020 figures
· Last Year's figures
Squeezing into Europe
It’s not the Champions League where Spurs have played for the previous four seasons, but Spurs will be playing in Europe next season for the eleventh consecutive season. Let’s face it, when I posted the previous monthly review at the end of March, we had entered Covid-19 lockdown and we did not know if we would even see the completion of the 2019-20 season. There was a risk that the season would be curtailed. We sat in eighth place and we were hoping that Manchester City’s UEFA ban would be upheld which would lead to European qualification going down to that level. City won their appeal against that ban (announced earlier this month), and we did manage to see the completion of our season, albeit behind locked doors. We also managed to finish sixth.
All games were televised, so we were able to follow the fortunes of our team, and if we chose, we could even enjoy virtual crowd noise. For Spurs the three-month hiatus meant that injured players such as Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko, Steven Bergwijn and Ben Davies would be available. Why, “Sonny” was able to go home to South Korea to fulfil a five-week National Service requirement once his broken arm had healed. Son passed his training with flying colours too.
The fact that Harry Kane, Sissoko and Davies started every one of our nine post-lockdown games, with Son and Steven Bergwijn taking part in every game indicates how debilitating those injuries had been, and how crucial these players were to our chances of success. Hugo Lloris and Serge Aurier also started every one of the 9 games, with Giovani Lo Celso starting 8 and coming off the bench in one game.
The football was rarely pretty, but statistically Spurs were one of the top four sides in this end of season spell. Hugo Lloris was voted by Spurs Odyssey readers as our best player during this spell, winning three man of the match votes and consistently giving excellent performances with plenty of vital saves. Harry Kane scored 7 goals in these games, passing yet another landmark (200 club goals including those scored when on loan). Harry was returning after a nearly six-month absence, and like all the players, his fitness and sharpness improved as the post-lockdown period progressed.
By the time we played (and beat) Arsenal in game number six Jose had his team well drilled and versed as to his requirements. That was to sit back and defend stoutly with both wing-men (Lucas Moura and Son, or Lamela and Bergwijn) having responsibility to work up and down the line, assisting the defence and attack equally. Lucas Moura in particular, whilst not scoring in this spell, showed very good form and worked his socks off. Beating Arsenal was crucial and ultimately, we finished above them for the fourth consecutive season. Only by winning the FA Cup this Saturday will they play in Europe next season. If they should win the cup, we will have to start our Europa League campaign in a qualifying round, due to be played on 17th September. (The Premier League is due to re-start on 12th September)
It's been no secret that Jose Mourinho likes Eric Dier. He coveted him when he was at Old Trafford. It appears that Eric will now be a first-choice centre-back. He played our first four games before he had to serve a four-game suspension imposed by the FA over that incident at the end of our Norwich FA Cup defeat in March. Eric returned for our last game. Toby Alderweireld sat out the first three games, but perhaps Jose was anticipating the Dier ban, saving Toby’s legs for the matches to come.
Eric has been rewarded with a new contract, extending his time with the club to 2024. Japhet Tanganga has also been given a new contract, till 2025. Japhet suffered back problems and was only available for later games, but he did not get off the bench. Having made his debut this season and 11 starts in all, Japhet can clearly look forward to plenty of game time in the season to come.
Football contracts usually end on June 30th, and because the season would extend beyond that date both Jan Vertonghen and Michel Vorm signed extensions to take them to the end of the season. Michel was not required, and Jan started one game, coming off the bench in three others. It is so sad that “Super Jan” who has served us well for 8 years could not have the rousing send-off he deserved from a packed White Hart Lane. Jan has been one of my favourite players throughout his stay and has twice been Spurs Odyssey’s player of the season. He has given us so many memorable moments.
Next week I will publish the spursometer review of the season, which will include a comparison of performance levels of Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho.
· Review the 2019-20 Premier League season here
Don't forget to check out the players' current figures re. appearances, cards, goals scored and accumulated ratings to date at the bottom of this page.
...if you want to read reports of the matches played during this season, then links are on the Spurs Odyssey Fixtures/Reports page here. By working your way back through the previous month's figures, you can review performances over the last 20 years!