Why Spurs fans can be buoyed by a look back at March 2010
FOR A large number of Spurs fans, this week’s glamorous Champions League tie has provided a welcome distraction from a league campaign which has taken a dispiriting turn for the worse.
The failure to beat either struggling Blackpool or Wolves has left Tottenham outside the top four, and facing a widening gap after Manchester City and Chelsea both emerged victorious from their latest fixtures.
A picture which was looking encouragingly rosy is now looking rather bleaker, and one supporter wrote in his blog this week that ‘Spurs’ chance of a top-four finish now looks less likely than it has done for a while’.
Harry Redknapp disagrees: “We’re right there – this is where we wanted to be at this stage,” he said.
Of course, Redknapp would have preferred to beat Blackpool and Wolves, but the suggestion that Spurs are giving themselves too much to do flies in the face of recent history.
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Exactly one year ago, after the same number of games, the Lilywhites had 49 points – just one more than they have now.
Of course, one point can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure. And, granted, Redknapp’s side were sitting in the top four 12 months ago – but the difference between last season’s battle for the top four and this year’s fight is minimal.
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Manchester City are currently ahead and have four points more than they did at this point in 2010, but then they have played two more games.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are 10 points worse off than they were this time last year, despite their win at Blackpool on Monday night, arguably opening up another spot to chase.
On top of that, Spurs have less to concern them in their rear-view mirror this time. Rewind 365 days and Liverpool and Aston Villa were chasing hard, less than four points behind.
Last year there were four teams chasing the final, fourth Champions League place. In March 2011 there are three sides fighting for two spots, offering better odds of success.
This all supports Redknapp’s belief that his side’s Champions League debut – which was supposedly going to hinder Spurs’ efforts in the league – has had a minimal effect on their bid to repeat last season’s feat and finish in the top four.
“It hasn’t hurt us at all, we’ve proved that we can cope on both fronts,” said the manager. “For us to be where we are in the league, and to be playing in the knockout stages of the Champions League, is a fantastic achievement for the players at the club. We’ve managed to fight on both fronts and we’ve done it very well.”
Given that Spurs were only one point better off last season, when they were not involved in Europe at all, it is hard to disagree with that assessment.
And, interestingly, there are also a number of parellels when the end-of-season run-in is surveyed.
Just like last year, Tottenham are yet to visit Man City, and have a home clash with Arsenal on a Wednesday night in the middle of April. Again, meetings with Chelsea and Stoke lie ahead.
This week’s league table may not look as positive as it could, but Spurs fans can take solace in the similarities with the situation this time last year – and hope for the same result in May.