The mood is somewhat black at Tottenham after their extraordinary 7-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
But does it mean anything in the wider scheme of things? Was the scoreline as bad as it sounds?
“It was a bit of a freak game, because he result didn’t quite reflect what happened on the pitch,” said Rafa Honigstein on the Totally Football Show this week. “It certainly didn’t reflect what happened in the first 40 minutes or so when Spurs pressed, harassed and disrupted Bayern, who weren’t able to get any sort of midfield game going.
“Then out of nothing Joshua Kimmich scored the sort of shot that will go in once every 100 attempts, then Robert Lewandowski had a similar feat, from outside the box, Spurs find themselves 2-1 down and Bayern change things – because they had to, with Alaba coming off and Thiago on – and suddenly they have control.
“The worrying part of the story is that Spurs seemed to fall apart. They were never able to put up any defence against a Bayern team who scored at will by the end of the game.”
What impact will it have on their season, and indeed the Mauricio Pochettino era in general? We were joined by long-term Spurs watcher and Evening Standard correspondent Dan Kilpatrick to explain further.
“In a sense that had been coming,” Dan told us. “Although it was a freak result and a shocking result, I think it was Tottenham’s 17th defeat in 36 games, it was part of a pattern of poor form going back to February. When you play a superpower like Bayern, in a state of decline as Spurs are, it’s not that surprising that you get completely spanked.
“The confidence at Spurs is so fragile at the moment, and any kind of knock to it…speaks to something kind of rotten at the heart of the dressing room at the moment.”
And what might be the cause of that rot?
“I don’t think we need to overthink it really. There are players there in the last year of their contract who probably will probably leave in January or next summer. We know who they are – it’s Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. There are players who were available to leave in the summer – Serge Aurier, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama, plus a few others – who didn’t leave and now they’re back in the squad.
“That’s been the case for a couple of summers now, and Spurs have really struggled to shift players. I think the relationships have got a bit tired, I don’t think they’re necessarily toxic but they’re just a bit tired of each other. The squad does feel a bit ‘end of cycle’, but they can’t do anything about that until January. Spurs have just got to get on with it.
“I do sympathise with Pochettino – some of the players he could have used to freshen it up have been injured, like Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso, also Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth, Tanguy Ndombele had an injury.
“That summer of 2018 when they didn’t sign or sell anyone, they’re really paying for that now and left themselves with too much to do this year.”
But could things pick up from here? Might we all be chuckling in a few months at how we were all panicking about their early season form?
“Spurs always start seasons quite poorly under Pochettino, then from November onwards they’re the best team in the league. They started the Champions League badly last season too and recovered. I think there was a slightly freak element to the Bayern score, but there do seem to be some more deep-rooted problems this time.
“It looked like they had turned a corner when they beat Crystal Palace, it looked like they had turned a corner when they beat Southampton with ten men. If they beat Brighton and Watford in the next two games, which are very winnable, then they’ll be third and things will look a bit more rosy. We’ll see where they are in a couple of weeks.”
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