The Week In Tottenham: Spurs slump continues as Saints inflict home humiliation
The week in five words
Tottenham crawl towards the summer.
What went well
Andrea Bocelli has a nice voice, doesn't he? The season's big high points are behind us, so this section is going to become increasingly laboured from a Spurs perspective.
Tall cranes are now looming over White Hart Lane and they are a welcome reminder that a long-pursued ambition is getting closer but, in a week when every Spurs fan has had to feel the goodwill pulse towards Leicester from every corner of the developed world, the positives are rather thin on the ground.
Sunday could have been a catharsis of sorts and victory – or an Arsenal loss – would have ended a tedious local hoodoo, but that wasn't to be either. Still, welcome back to the rarely seen Clinton N'Jie and congratulations to the entire side for not picking up any more lengthy suspensions.
Nobody needs a sports psychology qualification to diagnose what went wrong against Southampton: the team have suffered a significant emotional deflation over the past week and Sunday was the on-field manifestation.
All the power and adrenaline has dissipated from Spurs' players and against a lesser, more flippant opponent, their second-gear performance and fast start might have been enough for the points.
Alas, Ronald Koeman rules his players with an iron fist and, with something left to compete for, they were admirably rigid and impressively economic in front of goal. At a different point in the season, and with Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli available, Tottenham might have had the subtlety to find a second goal.
Regardless, the volume of errors made – from ordinarily reliable performers – was evidence of muddled thinking and of attention starting to drift towards the European Championship. It was understandable and the kind of loss which most people will have seen coming from a mile away, but it was still a highly unsatisfactory way to sign off for the season at White Hart Lane.
The fans, as is traditional, arrived intent on celebrating a season which has helped to restore so much pride and yet, even in 25 degree sunshine, the players managed to rain on that parade.
The nuts and bolts of the game seem incidental because, pertinent as the lack of movement ahead of the ball and the weak pressing were, the general attitude was entirely wrong. All the usual instructions and tactical intent were presumably in place, but the feverish commitment was regrettably not.
Quote of the week
"We created the better chances and had the possession, but when we needed to be more solid and show more consistency, we lacked it today. It is disappointing but we are still fighting."
It's a fairly banal quote, but there was a shred of comfort in Pochettino's refusal to blame the draw at Chelsea or the general circumstances for the below-par performance.
Yes, those factors were very much in-play, but as much as has been achieved this season, there are still many things to be learned from it – and that's the Argentine's message. Not a "one of those days" style of generality, but a gentle-yet-accusatory assessment which will help establish a future standard.
Video of the week
Well done to the club for giving young Marshall a moment he'll never forget – and well done to the crowd for singing his name. Lovely.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2016
- Tottenham have lost more points when leading (20) and won more points when trailing (19) than any other Premier League side this season
- Spurs have now recorded their highest tally of goals in a single Premier League season (68).
- Son Heung-min has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time.
Winner of the week
The loss wasn't serious enough to demand recriminations or to force a reshaping of the entire campaign – obviously not – but successful teams complete their work and, until next weekend at least, Tottenham are yet to do that.
Much as with the spectacular loss of control last Monday night, nobody is in a hurry to see such ponderous inertia again.
Loser of the week
Ryan Mason, for confirming what many were starting to suspect.
The suspension of Dembele afforded him an opportunity which, really, he needed to make better use of. Having been a constant part of Pochettino's side last year, he has drifted out to the fringes of the squad and has begun to look very expendable.
There's a lot to like about a player with his tenacity, and an injury-plagued past still commands plenty of sympathy, but Mason now looks like a player who has been left behind by his club's evolution.
His passing is a fraction too unreliable and his first touch is a degree too clunky for him to be worth a natural role in this side. Though there are many collective issues within the game, his Southampton performance was a further suggestion that he's filler at White Hart Lane rather than an actual asset.
That's a very conflicting assessment to have to make, because Mason is easy to root for. He's an honest player who would never short-change his supporters, but he possesses only a third of the qualities needed in a Pochettino-type midfielder. He has all the laudable intangibles, but not enough of the speed or precision which this Tottenham is built around. He hasn't necessarily regressed as a footballer, he's just likely to become a victim of progress and ambition.
Mason is a good professional and will likely have a very respectable Premier League career, but probably not in north London.