Football never ceases to amaze whether you’re in the Premier League or the National League, whether you are a fan of a side at the top, in the middle or struggling at the bottom.
As we walked into the final month of 2020, Tottenham were out in front for the first time in a very long while and for a few weeks previous Jose Mourinho’s men were being talked about as possible title challengers for the Premier League in 2020/21.
Having beaten local rivals Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Spurs were top on goal difference and seemingly cruising towards a season that could promise so much. Since that moment, they’ve managed just two wins from seven league games and now sit sixth in the table looking up at a resurgent Manchester City, a side they beat back in November.
Back to back defeats are now challenging the side to regain momentum in the race for the Champions League places and whilst the weekend results went their way with defeats for Leicester, West Ham, and Everton, Spurs couldn’t capitalise and themselves went down to a 1-0 loss on the South Coast to Brighton.
A defeat to the Seagulls last season at The Amex was the writing on the wall for Mourinho’s predecessor Maurizio Pochettino and while this would be extreme for Mourinho to be deserving of the same treatment, there is some discontent amongst the fanbase that no one is getting enough out of Tottenham Hotspur so far.
A lot is levelled at the talent within the squad not being utilised well enough and Spurs do indeed hold a lot of attacking flair but for some reason it is not being allowed to blossom as it should. Are the tactics too stifling? Can you win every game on the counter-attack? Should Spurs be blowing teams away similar to that first 15 minutes against West Ham earlier in the season?
The tactics employed at times are baffling. Take Sunday’s game for instance, with Harry Kane out injured most expected Carlos Vinicius to start but Mourinho opted for a front three of Steven Bergwijn, Gareth Bale, and Heung-min Son which failed to work, Vinicius would certainly have worked out the Brighton centre halves much harder with his physical presence.
The return of Bale has been nothing more than a damp squib, the player of old seems a long way from returning in a Spurs shirt and even 20 minute cameos are not providing much to the team.
Moussa Sissoko was back in the starting line-up but nullified at right wing back instead of breaking up play and striding forward in midfield, Matt Doherty whose best work was done at Wolves in the same position Sissoko occupied on Sunday was left on the bench, Mourinho seemingly unimpressed by the Irishman whilst seemingly weakening his midfield at the same time.
A lack of urgency has been levelled at the team quite often this season, that they only seem to respond to being behind late on in games and more often than not it’s too late to rescue even a point let alone a win.
Huge games are coming up for Spurs this month against sides chasing the top four like themselves and those fighting for the lives at the bottom. Throw in the FA Cup and the return of the Europa League and this could be the pivotal month of the season for Mourinho’s team.
The top four is not out of reach by a long shot, but the inconsistencies shown up now can easily derail everything and leave Tottenham needing help from other team’s results to make their way back into the Champions League.
Mourinho was brought in by Daniel Levy to push Tottenham onto the next level and having already gotten them into their first cup final since 2008 success might not be too far away. However, if current form continues to falter then the season might rest on that cup final in April to buy Mourinho some breathing space amongst the fans yet to be convinced he is the man to make Tottenham constant title challengers.