It’s the most exciting time of the football season, as the friendly matches come to an end and the fixtures that count begin this weekend, with everything possible and fans dreaming that this could be a big year for their club. It is a fresh slate now, everyone starts on zero points and has the opportunity to…
Urgh, I can’t do this. Maybe for most teams, there can be a sense of enormous optimism surrounding the new season. But I’m a Tottenham fan and let’s be honest, this year is going to be just as disappointing as all of the others. It is honestly a coincidence that my last post of 2014/15 was after the North London derby – Spurs did go rapidly downhill after that peak, but I was working on another project that took up all my writing time. But any hope I might have had in that post (and looking back at it, there was not much, since I correctly predicted they would be back below Arsenal within three days) was evaporated by the end of another poor season, albeit one that we somehow managed to finish fifth on the final day (thanks for thrashing Liverpool, Stoke!).
There are some major danger signs heading into the new season for Tottenham. The biggest one is how much we will be once against relying on the form of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen to win matches for us. Now Kane was brilliant from November to March, but then tailed off in the final two months of the season. Last year he scored 31 goals in all competitions, including 21 in the Premier League, but what if he is only 80% as effective this campaign? That would still be a very good return (say 16/17 league goals) but his strikes were worth 24 points* to Tottenham last year. So if Harry Kane is very good, but not outstandingly brilliant this time around, then his goals would be worth around 19 points, a five point drop for Spurs.
*As in if you removed Kane’s goals from the final score, how many points would Spurs have dropped. Against Arsenal, he scored both in a 2-1 win, so his value for the match was 3 points, changing it from a loss to a victory. Versus Aston Villa he scored 1 in another 2-1 win, so it is a value of 2 points as it took the team from 1 point to 3.
Of course, last year he did not play in the first dozen or so games, so there is a chance he could be worth even more, but that relies on his not getting injured or missing any playing time, but I’d be surprised if that happens given how much he was relied upon last year, then played for England in the European Under-21 Championships, and has been fielded by Mauricio Pochettino for 70+ minutes of pre-season games, including on Tuesday against Real Madrid, less than four days before the Premier League campaign kicks off at Old Trafford.
Why is this happening? Because Tottenham do not have any other options up front. Last year, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado were often bench-warmers and rarely played after November, but those two enigmatic strikers are likely on their way out before the month is up (to Villa and Villareal respectively) and no replacements appear to be arriving imminently. I’m sure we will do a last-minute, August 31st 11pm deal again for a player who will probably work out just as well as Grzegorz Rasiak did (yes it’s been 10 years since that transfer, but I’ll never forget that all of us away fans at Fulham had to scream at himto jump to challenge for headers in his final match for the club five months later. JUMP!)
Alongside the lack of strikers, we could lose our best player of the last two years (Hugo Lloris) before the transfer window slams (the only verb you can use for the occasion) shut, as he is wanted by both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. Also, it appears as though the central midfield will be anchored by a pairing of two out of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason and, defender, Eric Dier. Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli have all been shipped out, but the most frustrating thing is not that Pochettino is giving the youngster a chance there, I like that, but rather he is not playing the right one. If Tom Carroll is given a run in the side, his range of passing and cool head in the midfield would mean that people would be clamoring for him to be called up to the England team, that’s how good he looks. But, for some reason, odds are that by September 1st, he’ll have been shipped out on loan and some Championship side will get to enjoy watching him this season.
The other sign that this could be a very bad season for Tottenham, is how much they relied upon late goals last year. In 2014/15, they picked up 14 points in the 85th minute or later of matches. On one side, this shows that Pochettino had them fighting fit until the final whistle was blown, which is great, but it would be statistically unrealistic to expect them to grab so many crucial late goals again. So, if say they were to pick 7 points in the final five minutes this campaign, alongside Kane being only 80% as effective, then that’s 12 points removed from last year’s total. In 2014/15, that would have meant finishing 10th in the table and I fully expect that to be around where we end up this year (I’d believe anything from 7th to 14th).
So my first prediction for 2015/16 (which is slightly more than a long-shot than the rest of my prognostications for the division, which I promise I will get to in a minute and leave Spurs alone) is this:
Mauricio Pochettino will be the first Premier League manager to leave his job in 2015/16 – Odds 20/1
I will even predict when it will happen: November 8th, the day we will be thrashed by Arsenal at the Emirates. By then, Tottenham will have played a dozen games, I project they will have a similar number of points to fixtures and Daniel Levy will once again replace his coach. My only hope is the replacement will be Jürgen Klinsmann…
And so, onto the other predictions for this season. Continue reading