Tottenham signed seven top internationals in anticipation of Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid for a world record-breaking fee of £85 million.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas insisted the North Londoners could challenge the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea for the title since his squad overhaul this summer but his side’s disappointing 1-0 defeat in the North London derby to Arsenal demonstrated the need for chemistry, cohesion and understanding to be built as they new signings bed in.
Tottenham have spent in excess of £100 million this summer, eclipsing that of super-rich Manchester City by some distance. Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches, and Christian Eriksen have arrived in North London with Gareth Bale, William Gallas, Steven Caulker, Clint Dempsey, Tom Huddlestone, and Scott Parker going out.
Five of Villas-Boas’ new additions featured in Sunday’s North London derby and despite Spurs’ 57% of possession, they failed to penetrate the Arsenal box with enough composure, making just 4 shots on target over 96 minutes.
Incidentally Spurs’ best players on the pitch were youngster Andros Townsend and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Townsend was afforded space and time on the flank, especially in the first half, and displayed the most energy and dynamism for Spurs until he was replaced by Lamela with just quarter of an hour left of the game.
Etienne Capoue went off injured on a stretcher at the Emirates after a nasty looking tangle with Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and although reports have emerged that he has not suffered a leg break, the Frenchman’s performance in the middle of the park was clumsy and nervous.
As Manchester City’s spending over the last few years has shown, success is achievable but it’s takes time for new arrivals to built rapport with their teammates. Spurs’ passing and creative play on Sunday was clearly that of a team that has yet to get in-sync but over the course of the season that is something that will improve and develop, on the pitch and the training ground.
Six out of seven of Spurs’ new signings are 25 years of age or younger – only striker Soldado can be considered an experienced and fully-developed player which will also mean their adaptation to life in London, the team, and the pressure that comes with big-money deals could be compounded by their need for time and patience to develop and improve.
Overall Tottenham certainly have a squad and a first-team capable of challenging for the title in a manner and at a level they haven’t done in decades but there must also be an acknowledgment that these things take time. This season may be too much of an ask of the manager and the players, especially given the huge sums spent and the pressure to turn that into success on the pitch.
Spurs have sold Gareth Bale but they now have a squad that is capable of contending for the title for the next decade but time is a currency not often afforded to football managers who have spent £100 million.
image: © Vladimir Maiorov