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The Real Reason Tottenham Came Fifth Last Season?

There has been many a discussion post season as to why we finished in fifth spot in the league last season, when many, myself included, thought that fourth should have been a definite and maybe even second or third was a real possibility.

Some of the post mortem debates have been;

Was it the lack of goals from the strikeforce and the fact we didn’t strengthen this area in the January transfer window? At the start of the season most would have said it was good enough to compete.

Was it that our success in the CL had a negative and tiring effect on our league form as we all know about the 2 points from 8 games fact, plus the seeming inability to defeat the so called inferior teams?

Is that I and many others are just wrong and we really aren’t as good as we had hoped and believed and we are in the right place for the level we are at?

All the above points have merit to some degree. We know that our strikeforce of JD, Pav, Crouchy and Keano should have been capable of firing in the goals as they had plenty of imagination, flair and talent behind them creating the chances for them. But ,for various reasons, it didn’t happen for them last season and when we desperately needed to strengthen and had the opportunity this failed to materialise also.

The inability to defeat lesser teams was the most frustrating fact from last season for me. I can hear you saying now to yourself ‘why would this be?’, as Spurs have a history of doing such things and you would be correct in that thought. The previous season we were much better at getting the points when we struggled and played the bottom half of the table teams and maybe I just expected the team to carry on in the same vein. Of course the CL exertions had an effect but we have a quality and large enough squad that should have been used to its maximum to prevent such a dire return at the tail end of the season.

After reflecting on the last season I truly believe that it really was a superb opportunity for us to finish anywhere from second to fourth in the league as we had the talent to have done this. Especially as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and even Manchester United struggled for large parts of the season, so a real opportunity lost in my eyes. On the where we really are front and compared to the other teams mentioned I think we can honestly seriously compete with City, Liverpool and Arsenal now.

But, after reading a very good article in the latest edition of FourFourTwo Magazine (@FourFourTwo on Twitter) I put forward this reason: Injuries and specifically injury to Ledley King!

According to said article Spurs had 61 different injuries during the last season, the most in the PL, the least were BLackpool with 20. Spurs as a whole lost 1528 days to injuries, the 4th most, Sunderland were top with 2001 days. I know our squad should be big enough and have enough depth within it to cope with such issues as every team has them, but 61! That seems a hell of a lot of injuries and days lost, I wonder how many times that specific ones occurred? Maybe the club should analyse what they were, how many times they occurred and how they could possibly change the training routine to prevent some of them. Yes, some were obviously match related injuries that you cannot do anything about as it is a contact sport after all and also injuries occurred to players whilst playing for the their countries rather then us (Dawson and JD’s for England being 2). Still, injuries on this scale must have an effect on the team with consistency, gelling with and understanding team mates, fitness levels and possibly psychologically as well. With the amount of games we played I am not saying this was the only reason but it may have been a real factor and taken its toll on the team.

My second point on the injury front issue is our leader, Mr Cool himself, Ledley King. I firmly believe he is the best centre back in the country bar none and it’s a crying shame what has happened to him due to his dodgy knees mainly, amongst other related issues. I have some interesting facts for you:

Last season LK missed 197 days of a 282 day PL season (the previous season 101). He was included in 10 squads throughout the last season, starting 9 times and being an unused sub once, 6 starts were in the PL (previous season 21 starts, 20 in PL). This related to a total of 764 minutes of competitive football played last season and 1637 minutes the season before. Our win percentage with him in the team last season was 75% (PL games only and yes I know only 6 of them!), and without 58%, over a much longer period it has to be said. I can counter this though with the stat that over the last 7 seasons we are at a win percentage of 59% with him in the team and 50% when he isn’t. How many points this relates to last season if he played even 10 more league games of the 32 that he missed is anyone’s guess but if we used a win percentage of only 50% and converted some of the draws into wins, it would be anywhere from 10-15 points I reckon and second place in the league! Wishful thinking I know.

Obviously this is all theoretical and stats can be twisted to suit but I do honestly believe we are a much calmer, better team with LK in it that wins more. It also would have helped if we could have had available our first choice XI much more often (obviously with squad rotation being taken into account) without the deluge of injuries and last season could have been even better than it was.

Hopefully next season we won’t have so many injuries, especially to our top players, Ledley will play some more games and our strikers will be firing.

Top four here we come!


Submitted by Rob from THFC1882




  1. Roy Singh

    July 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

    The bottom line is that one cannot guarantee an injury free season. You will have this problem if a club does not adopt rotation to players. You cannot continue running your squad to the grinding wheel. Injury & fatigue will inevatably be risked.

  2. davspurs

    July 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Rob you are spot on and i have said what you have written on many blogs but there is three other major reasons why we finished 5th. This is my honest opinion through researching our past season Your right about King and even Gomes stops his clangers when King playes but the one person you never mentioned who also was vital in our attack was 6ft3 Huddlestone who was running on one ankle for most of the season. The other statistic was Harry playing 4411 to accommodate Van it worked a treat till Huddlestone was missing for four month and Van stayed too deep and this left battered and bruised Crouch a lone striker . The most telling reason for Spurs not finishing fourth is a controversial one but one i no is true and its energy drugs being used to stop Defoe and others from scoring the only three players who have failed tests are Cadamateri Huddersfield Paddy Kenny QPR and Man City i wrote a blog naming City has one of the teams before Toure failed his tetst. I found out about this form of cheating three seasons ago when Liverpool got reported to the then testers UK SPORT. Now its spreading and if we had joined in Wigan and others would not have beat Spurs i wnt bore you with any more details but trust me when Liverpool got reported the head of the FA was a fan and now City have David Bernstien ex Man City chairman a fan this is why we finished 5th i no 100 percent Living in the north west.Coys

  3. Horny Helen

    July 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Look at the facts and not wishy washy stats. Look at our goal difference and you will see that our goals for is nowhere near good enough. Our goals against is not brilliant but Gomez was responsible for a few of those. So either our strikers are pants or we are not creating enough clear cut scoring opportunities for them, I belive it is a bit of both. Nothing to do with Ledley really.

  4. Allways a yid

    July 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I predicted back last Xmas, if we didn’t get a new striker and CH forget the CL next year! But my worst prediction was that we will lose all of our best players! I don’t blame them for wanting to go, when we have a “TOP TOP” dick head as manager, that sulks, is childish and has no real tactical talent!
    How come Man City managed to get 2nd, FA cup and long way into the EC. Because they rotated their players, as well as their new manager (who was new to the PL )understanding how and who you play when playing the bottom half of the table. I have always thought that HR lacked in most areas. But when we look back and see who signed all the fabulous talent that has come though despite HR. And now we see all the signing we were supposed to be getting but where did they end up? With the man we sacked and who has ended up at Liverpool. I feel so disappointed with the way we always miss out! When we will be great again?

  5. Razspur

    July 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    The reason we came 5th last season was due to the Jeckel & Hyde aspect. From Aug-Jan 31st the team had belief, were up for the fight and ready to take on Europes elite. From Feb-May we lacked belief, were devoid of fight, we couldn`t even pick ourselves up off the canvas to battle it out with moderate opposition, the shambles against Wigan where the majority were under par would not have been accepted by Bill Nicholsons Champions so why accept it today ? Tottenham Hotspur history dictates that players should give they`re all and then some, play for the badge, the shirt, the tradition and the club not the wage packet. I agree with HR that we do need 3 signings to complete the squad, 2 world class strikers and a goalkeeper, total cost 55-65mill but could offset that by selling the current crop (7 players should go).
    Success breeds success and instills a winning mentality therefore we should concentrate on winning the Europa League, demonstrate that we are winners build a squad ethic, let them grow together, develop together and stay together on an upward spiral. (seems like the start of a rant).
    Truely believe and you will surely achieve. Roll on August 13th. COYS.

  6. KT Hotspur

    July 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Not been able to beat West Ham, Wigan & Blackpool was a big reason behind not finishing in the top 4 (although Harry likes to bury his head in the sand on that as he’d like to think it’s because you can’t compete with Man City financially). Add to that 2 goals scored in those 6 games suggest that a forward was definitly our main requirement last summer, however Defoe, Crouch and Pav were good enough the season before so we can’t blame it on that entirely.

    Best squad we’ve ever had, most money spent ever in the last 5 years so where is the problem? (and you can’t blame injuries as everyone has them).

  7. ParkLane67

    July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Totally agree with Roy Singh. Rotation, rotation, rotation!Harry needs to have learnt the lesson going into this season and use the large squad we have much more effectively. He has an obsession with always playing his best team – Sometimes you have to rest players (whether they like it or not – and take the criticism if it goes wrong) and sometimes you have to play the fringe players to ensure they stay match fit (e.g Kranjcar)- otherwise they’re not ready when you do need them!

  8. Bedil

    July 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Excellent article but in my opinion too much focus on the loss of Leds. He is a great player when fit but frankly Gallas and Daws were outstanding in some massive games. Our problem was upfront – plain and simple. We had more of the ball and created more chances in almost every game in the final 3 months yet couldn’t finish off the likes of West Brom, West Ham, Wigan and Blackpool at home. Furthermore the fact that Harry didn’t even know VDV was coming on the final day indicates that he was never part of the plan. Spurs play their best football using 4-4-2 and VDV is accommodated in 4-4-1-1 at the team’s expense. The problem was clear and we had an opportunity to strengthen in January however instead of buying a striker, we loaned Keano out and bought in Pienaar and Khumalo ! Neither was going to drive us to Top 4 but Chelsea, City and Liverpool who had storming second halves improved their striking options with Torres, Dzeko, Carrol and Suarez respectively. Torres and Dzeko didn’t make the difference on the pitch but suddenly the likes of Drogba and Balotelli improved (possibly due to the pressure for their positions).

    We have 2 of the best wide men in the Premiership but with only 1 striker to hit, the opposition are able to double up on Crouchy every time. Surely we need to buy an out and out striker that can score goals rather than create them – we already have VDV. Forlan and Rossi didn’t make it in England before so look beyond that ‘arry. The likes of Anelka, Solskjaer and Hernandez were plucked from nowhere and did the business. Our wage structure puts us at a disadvantage when bidding for players but we must find players that will improve the starting XI rather than more squad players

  9. Wandering Yid

    July 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Answer is simple HR called all the shots and he F#@ED UP big time …
    Squad rotation (or lack of)
    Team favourites (we all know them)
    Inability to change tactics midgame

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