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By Ben Bloom
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Tottenham blogger Ben Bloom looks back on an eventful 12 months at Spurs which has included the departures of Gareth Bale and Andre Villas-Boas.
For the second year running Christmas has arrived with Spurs on exactly 30 points. Has nothing changed in the past 365 days?
Well last year we had played 18 games at this point, whereas this time around we have played one less. And last season we were 13 points off top spot while this festive season we are six points back. So on paper things appear to have improved.
Ask the majority of Spurs fans though and they will tell you that is not the case.
We should start at the beginning.
The post-2012 Christmas festivities began well and by the time we beat Arsenal at White Hart Lane in March we had a seven-point lead over our main rivals.
The January transfer window hadn’t been a busy one - it didn’t need to be. We paid less than a couple of million pounds to bring Lewis Holtby’s transfer forward and the focus was not on new names but on qualifying for the Champions League and ensuring one man in particular hung around: Gareth Bale.
The Welshman had (excuse the pun) bailed us out countless times, scoring seven of our nine goals from late January until early March. Many of those victories were somewhat undeserved, but, hey, it didn’t matter because Bale was ours, Arsenal were looking up at us and a place in Europe’s premier competition beckoned.
Then we lost at home to Fulham. While still ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal in third place, defeat was a killer blow and, sure enough, a record points tally wasn’t enough to finish above either of our north London rivals.
By the time the news came through that Arsenal had pipped us to fourth by beating Newcastle on the final day, Spurs fans had already had plenty of time to prepare themselves for what seemed inevitable. So close yet again.
Onwards and upwards though - keep Bale, sign a striker, strengthen a few key areas and the only way would be up in 2013-14.
It became clear fairly early on that wouldn’t be the case though. Whether he left in May or September, Bale was always destined to depart and we would somehow have to find a way to replace a man who had scored an incredible 21 league goals and carried us single-handedly on countless occasions.
Yet an impossible task appeared to have been made possible with seven new signings, three record transfers and a net profit courtesy of Bale’s massive fee.
It’s amazing how beneficial hindsight can be. In this column just three months ago, I wrote the words: “This is arguably the best time to be a Spurs fan for the past 25 years”.
Little did I know what the next dozen or so matches would bring. And I was not the only one. The general mood was one of excitement and anticipation.
When the Spurs media men circulated a photo of our seven new players lined up neatly together they never expected one bookmakers firm would dig it out just before Christmas and joke: “Looking to spread joy? Remember not everything you buy will work out. Please keep your receipts”.
There is little point in dissecting the wounds of our recent defeats. The Manchester City and Liverpool games are still fresh in the memory so it is best to focus on the here and now.
We have a new manager. No one will be able to convince me Daniel Levy watched that Liverpool defeat and thought: “What we really need is to get rid of Andre Villas-Boas and replace him with Tim Sherwood”.
There was nothing to be gained from halting Villas-Boas’ quest to build a lasting legacy at Spurs and the club could have kept hold of the few million that was spent paying him off.
I am certain there is not a single Spurs fan who thought we would be in this position a year ago but what’s done is done, AVB is no more, Sherwood is in and we must support him.
While 2013 may not have panned out as hoped, there is no reason why 2014 cannot bring the results we all crave so much.
We have plenty of talented players and, given time (the key ingredient to building any sort of success) they can grow into something special.
So a regular Spurs Christmas wish: make this the year we finally step up to the big time for good.
Follow me on Twitter @benbloomsport