Tottenham 2012/13: Scores on the doors
Two listless 1-0 home defeats to Wigan and Fulham cost us a Champions League spot for next season - not giving up one-goal leads on both visits to Merseyside in a season where we prospered on the road and showed a soft underbelly at fortress White Hart Lane.
Make the Lane a psychological 12th man again next season and we can push on in Andre Villas-Boas’ second full campaign. The wily tactical tinkering that saw us score in all but one away games en route to an impressive haul of 34 points was the primary reason we collared a Premier League best of 72.
You will not find many people outside the club, who would have predicted that when AVB took the helm. The gravel-voiced Portuguese has kept a low profile, of that we are thankful following Harry Redknapp’s tiresome quote happy tenure towards the end.
Generous in praise when faced with victory or defeat, he deserves plaudits in much the same way as Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman came with a glittery reputation that existed outside the rough and tumble of the Premier League. One season down, after seeing off rugged Brad Friedel, he can justifiably claim to be our unsung hero.
Gareth Bale and Jan Vertonghen may have grabbed the spotlight, but ask Spurs fans who they were quietly impressed with and Lloris will be the answer. Much in the same way that Aaron Lennon has fostered a fan favourite reputation, the former Lyon custodian looks set to follow suit. What better place to start my end-of-season ratings then than Lloris himself…
Hugo Lloris - 8
We could have done without the arrogant Didier Deschamps ultimatum at the start of the season, however when Lloris did finally get a run of starts he showed why he was so highly rated for France and Lyon. Even if his punches make us nervous, his impeccably timed dashes from the line to snuff out danger and imperious shot stopping soon won us over. Real class act.
Brad Friedel - 7
Brad could have spat the dummy big time when Deschamps and Lloris were questioning his place in the team at the start of the season, but he didn’t. A true pro, the American just got on with his job and when replaced cheered on from the bench. Lloris is an upgrade, nevertheless Brad did us proud and happy to have him.
Kyle Walker - 6
Kyle was living the dream after a great season last time out, but all good things come to an end. He has been found out this season, much to his own disappointment. His ability to highlight his own mistakes and work harder, rare in a professional footballer, has made him a fan favourite. His displays improved in the second half of the season and he will benefit from a settled back four next season.
Jan Vertonghen - 8
With our rock Younes Kaboul sidelined, Big Jan came in from Ajax and took the Premier League by storm. He got found out in a few games with tricky opposition attackers, however his tough tackling, surges forward and pitch leadership mean he will provide a fearsome pairing when Kaboul returns. Capable of rocket free-kicks.
Michael Dawson - 7
How the club ever thought of getting rid of him, I don’t know. The spiritual heartbeat of the side in Ledley’s absence and best role model I can see in present day for kids in terms of attitude on and off the pitch. Hugely underrated centre-back too, who prospers when playing alongside class like Vertonghen but struggles when paired with dross like Gallas. Around for a while yet.
Steven Caulker - 7
Seventeen Premier League starts for the England international this season. How AVB picked Gallas ahead of him for key Europa League games, we will never know. Still maturing defensively and slow on the turn occasionally, one to keep for next season if part of a rotation with Jan, Daws and Younes. Bright spot off the bench this season.
William Gallas - 4
He did a job when Redknapp first brought him to the club, but looked shot last season and put in three of the worst defensive displays I have ever seen at home to Chelsea and Basle, then away to Inter Milan. Much like Adebayor, a former Arsenal/Chelsea poison that needs removing.
Younes Kaboul - NA
One Premier League start is all we got out of Younes this season and, boy, did it show at times. The rock upon which we had become too reliant last season, his absence put too much pressure on Vertonghen. A fierce competitor and superb all-round athlete, his presence next season will be paramount to mounting a charge in all four competitions.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto - 6
I have defended him in the face of his detractors for a few years now. Sadly for Benoit, the sublime performances we saw last season have not been repeated this time around. Obviously injuries haven’t helped, but he does not look the same player. His careless play suggests Danny Rose or a world class replacement could see him sold or benched.
Kyle Naughton - 5
He tries hard, but just doesn’t have what it takes to stake a permanent place. His defensive performances alongside Gallas were the essence of comedy at times. Again, the fact he was played out of position at left-back should go in his favour nevertheless he just doesn’t look good enough to be part of a side looking to challenge the top three. His gun photo antics suggest he’s not at the races mentally.
Aaron Lennon - 7
We do not look nearly as potent when Azza misses games, simple as that. His defensive work tracking back should be held up as the template for wingers worldwide, even if his attacking end product sometimes disappoints. He keeps defenders on their toes and his crossing was incisive this season. Few more goals and we’d be even more happy.
Clint Dempsey - 6
Seven goals and four assists from 22 Premier League starts. The jury is still out on Clint for me. He can disappear for long stretches of play, which you simply can’t get away with in a side looking to win every game they play. Big game player who has a nose for goal and a cute touch at times, however he needs to step up his impact in lesser games and ditch the often grumpy attitude.
Sandro - 8
He was near enough the best central midfielder in Europe statistically before he got injured, so you can imagine how much we missed him for the second half of the season. An absolute monster around the pitch, he let Dembele focus on what he does best and protected the back four too. He is key in terms of how we fare next season on all fronts. His Tweets of support before and after games highlights spirit.
Scott Parker - 6
Fifteen Premier League starts for Scotty, however not the same player as last season due to a combination of fitness problems and no Luka to help him shoulder the load. Honest as the day is long, he should find himself benched next season if AVB wants us to mix with the big boys.
Mousa Dembele - 6
New midfield maestro or second coming of Jermaine Jenas? Difficult to tell with the Belgian hit by niggly injuries all season long. When paired with Sandro and fit, he looks the real deal. When paired with anyone else and looking scared to dribble, let alone tackle, he is a complete passenger. Hopefully the former wins out and he can produce way more end product in the final third and belters from that lovely left peg of his.
Gareth Bale - 9
Whatever anyone may say, he played for himself last season and it cost us time and again in big games like City, Liverpool and Arsenal away. This season he has been the ultimate team player, while boosting his own stock in the process. The strong bond with AVB and his team-mates is there for all to see. Bring in someone to take the load off the left flank next season and he can roam to devastating effect again hopefully. Must not be allowed to leave.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 7
Classic confidence player who shrinks away when the team is packed full of players on top of their game, but steps up when others are under par and he can be the star man. He had a poor first half of the season but, arguably, our most improved player in the second half. If he can get used to being a squad player, then the sky is the limit. Gutsy worker, who should try his luck more from distance.
Tom Huddlestone - 5
T-Hudd has had more than enough chances to stake a claim over the years. He looked like he had finally cracked it during our Champions League campaign a couple of years back, but injuries have set him back physically and emotionally again. Like Jenas, thinks he can just turn up to get plaudits instead of getting stuck in and making best use of his talent. Would not be unhappy if he moved on this summer and AVB played Carroll more.
Lewis Holtby - 6
Too early to tell with our German bit part player. You cannot fault his enthusiasm, however needs a run of games with a properly identified role to show his talents. Just like Gylfi, might have to be happy with an impact squad role unless he ups his game considerably attacking wise.
Jake Livermore - 5
Feel for Jake. Whenever he was asked to step in for Scotty last season, he did so with aplomb. Sadly this season he missed the boat on all fronts and I think a permanent move away might be the best solution as his loan days look behind him as a full England international. Combative.
Emmanuel Adebayor - 5
World class one minute, Sunday league the next. Injuries have taken their toll, but it does not excuse the lousy attitude and sitter missing throughout the season. His sending off at Arsenal sums up why we would be better off without him. His Chelsea away display suggests he still might have it in him. If AVB can find a buyer, the temptation to let him lope off could be too much to resist especially with his big wages spent on younger, hungrier strikers that would score more goals.
Jermain Defoe - 6
I have a soft spot for JD. He’s never complained when he hasn’t been in the side during his spells and he knows where the onion bag is. He came out of the traps this season superbly and looked the arch poacher we know he can be at his best. On the flip side, he showed on his injury return how infurating he can be when his radar is off and he refuses to pass to team-mates in better positions.
Tom Carroll - 6
He is a delightful player on the ball, of that there is no doubt. Modric showed how you can succeed with a slight frame once he hit his Premier League stride and there’s no reason why Tom can’t follow suit. We lack a possession player in midfield with a glint in his eye for a crafty through ball. Would prefer to see him used next season.
Andros Townsend - 7
Along with Gallas’ continuing selection, the January loan to QPR was a rare mistake for AVB this season. As he showed when he came on in his substitute appearances and subsequent starting role for Redknapp in west London, he finally has the application to add to his pace and trickery. His attitude has been ropey before, and his gambling problem is a worry just when we thought the penny had dropped, but he should be welcomed back.
Ones for the future
Great back-up for Kyle Walker and should be on the bench at all times. Loves to get forward and superb long shot.
Not sure Ryan has what it takes to shine at the very top of the game, however would be nice to see AVB let him try.
Looks like falling behind Cristian Ceballos in the pecking order, despite a cute Spanish passing game.
Hugely impressive on loan at Wycombe, surely Lloris’ deputy the season after next when Brad hangs gloves up.
Has the talent learned at Barca, now lets see him get games off the bench to show his midfield trickery.
Willing forward worker off the bench at most in a team looking to hit the heights like Tottenham.
Why not give him a try off the bench in pre season and see if he can stake a permanent squad place. Bundles of pace.
He is a curious one, Obika. He can look unstoppable one moment and pedestrian the next. Worth giving a look.
Already showed he can impress at Peterborough, exactly the type of midfield schemer needed to unlock defences.
No reason why we cannot challenge for the top four again next season now we have got rid of our Old Trafford hoodoo and improved our away performances. Two, hopefully three, world class additions and dead wood removal would give us even more impetus. Steffen Freund’s infectious enthusiasm off the bench is a big plus, while Daniel Levy needs to buy early this summer. COYS!