Tottenham Hotspur: A cocktail of bad decisions and a wretched attitude from players

Tottenham fans are witnessing the unravelling of their season like never before, wondering when the north London circus will stop.

Tottenham will face Manchester United on Thursday night, as the players will look up to their third ‘manager’ in the span of six games. Between the terrible draw away to Southampton and the 6-1 mauling at Newcastle United, Spurs have sacked two managers and are ready to install a third.

Fans have also seen the loyalty from chairman Daniel Levy towards technical director Fabio Paratici. He has since left the club amid the FIFA ban for his role at Juventus and their financial irregularities.

Paratici was reportedly meant to bring a plan and work alongside Antonio Conte to turn the club into a potential contender. Despite the latter’s complaints about their transfer approach, one cannot unsee the huge investments Levy made to improve the squad.

However, were they the players Conte wanted in the first place remains the question. If not, who were those stars like Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, and Djed Spence signed for? In the latter’s case, the Italian had publicly claimed the right wing-back was not the player he wanted, which certainly points to the disturbances behind the scene. But that is only the top of the iceberg.

Conte’s incredible rant saw him get sacked in a matter of a week. And then surprisingly enough, his assistant, Cristian Stellini took over until the end of the season. As bizarre as that decision might have been, it surely has not worked out as Levy gave the marching orders to a second Italian in the space of a month.

Tottenham have become a major attraction not for football but the circus they have turned themselves into. The fun goes on for their rivals. But Spurs fans have had enough and know that, following the many ill-fated decisions, Levy has nowhere to hide now as their season unravels in a way they have never witnessed.

Moreover, the players lost faith in matters on the pitch as they all went into hiding collectively. So what is wrong at Tottenham? Financial, tactical and transfer decisions have hurt them in a big way, as they have moved from potential title contenders to possible Europa/Conference League incumbents.

Decision making key, but will they learn soon enough?

It was not long ago Tottenham got crowned as the winners of the summer transfer window. Richarlison, Ivan Perisic, Spence, Bissouma, Fraser Forster and Clement Lenglet arrived. The first two have struggled, with the £60 million Brazilian yet to score a Premier League goal. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Bissouma and Lenglet are nowhere near the starting team.

The little said about Spence, the better. But there has been abject decision-making even in the January window. Spurs spent the whole month negotiating with Sporting CP for Pedro Porro and then paying up their asking price on deadline day. So what was the point of those negotiations when those in charge could not reduce a single penny from the transfer?

Then they dilly-dallied about Conte’s contract, eventually creating a vacuum between the manager and the board. It became clear a new agreement may not happen. And one could only wonder what ramifications that could have had. Considering Conte will leave at the end of the campaign, it may have impacted the manager’s mood in the dugout.

Then coming back to Paratici, nobody can see the wisdom the Italian brought to the table. Tottenham have only regressed under his leadership, with the top-four finish last season increasingly looking like a blip. It seems more like Arsenal’s fault rather than Tottenham’s brilliance.

Then the big decision to sack Conte and keep Stellini on the job has baffled the entire fanbase. Wasn’t he supposed to mirror the image of the former Inter Milan boss in many ways? Considering the players had visibly checked out of the Conte reign, they did not care what Stellini commanded.

Now, with Ryan Mason set to take charge, the circus only continues to entertain the neutrals. But Tottenham supporters will realise what shambles their club currently are in.

Tactical failure or inability to adapt?

On the back of the 6-1 defeat to Newcastle United, many generous Tottenham fans were able to point out the reason for their downfall. The primary cause was their formation change, with Spurs starting the game with a back four rather than their customary back three.

Learning to adapt to a new system is different, which Stellini would have practised with throughout the week heading to Newcastle. However, conceding five goals in 20 mins is the main subject of deliberation here, and what went wrong.

Not long ago, Jose Mourinho steered this team, with most current squad members, to a smashing 1-6 win over Manchester United. Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez started that game in a back four, and the system only saw a change since Nuno Espirito Santo’s arrival.

Going back to a back three seemed like a safe passage than a tactical change from Santo. But Conte’s arrival brought about assurance of the system. While the Italian has also failed in due course due to the players on board, he might have had different success had Levy obliged to the calls for bringing in a new central defender.

Cristian Romero only won the World Cup with Argentina as a starter in a back four, and Spurs have options like Emerson Royal and Ben Davies, who know how to play as full-backs. Yet, the back three has become the subject of discussion. The blame should fall more on Spurs players and their inability to adapt to a sudden new system.

These international players include two England internationals on either end of the pitch. There will be more backlash if Tottenham hand Dier a new contract, as talks have been ongoing. Take Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who does a decent job. But that is not what a club like Spurs need in their midfield.

Every squad department needs overhauling, which in one window seems like an impossible task. They need someone who can work alongside the chairman and instil ideas on rebuilding this talented yet wasted squad of supposed international stars.

The big question is who will take over in the summer as Tottenham’s new manager. The options have been shrinking dramatically, again placing the blame on the board and ENIC. The catastrophe is not about to end anytime soon.

What next for Tottenham?

First and foremost, they need a new manager at the helm. In the week before and after Conte’s sacking, many names, including Ruben Amorim, former boss Mauricio Pochettino and Arne Slot, were reportedly linked with replacing the Italian.

Then came names like Luis Enrique and Julian Nagelsmann, while Thomas Tuchel also got mentions in the thereabouts. Now, Chelsea are favourites to sign the Argentine, while Nagelsmann has doubts about joining them. Any established candidate in the game will look at the history of Tottenham and then take a serious decision.

Managers like Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have suffered reputational damage after managing Spurs. With the former, it became a story that the Portuguese was no longer fit for the top level. But fortunately, he has established himself with AS Roma since.

Only after ‘Serial Winner’ Conte left it became clear the problem lies in Spur’s DNA. In his last press conference, the Italian said these players do not help each other, which became evident in the recent defeats to Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Someone like Amorim could try his hand at rebuilding this squad. The monumental objective ahead will dictate that the new manager will have to rebuild everything and should try and win a trophy. Conte, Mourinho and Pochettino (after five years) could not do it, so it will come as harsh to place such expectations on the incoming boss.

For now, things look bleak and broken at Tottenham. Arsenal, despite their torrid performance at the weekend, will have celebrated St. Totteringham’s day, which marked the end of an era in the north London rivalry, but a sad beginning for Spurs, with the club entering the unknown ahead.

The board and Levy do not have enough room to manoeuvre anymore, as whatever decisions they take will have to be spot-on. Even small lapses threaten a derail any small progress they must have made. Tottenham will face the ramifications of shooting at their own foot.

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