Valencia 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur. That’s it; Spurs are going to get relegated, I’m returning my season ticket and turning to rugby. Some fans are massively over-reacting to the pre-season defeat to Valencia, a team who finished third in La Liga last season. Let’s get this out in the open early one; Valencia are no pushovers. Finishing third in the Primera Division is a worthy feat; basically confirming the Spanish side as the ‘best of the rest’.
Prior to the defeat to Los Che, Spurs had enjoyed a successful pre-season campaign with three wins and two draws. It gave an indication as to the likely formation Andre Villas-Boas will start the new campaign with for the trip to Newcastle United. For those that have read this blog over the past year, it is the formation that Spurs, provided the right players are bought in, are best suited for.
Furthermore, it allows the players to get back up to speed with the rigours of playing and regain match fitness after a potentially lengthy summer off. The two points are exactly what pre-season friendlies are for; experimentation and fitness. These two boxes have been ticked in the wins over Stevenage, New York Red Bulls and Watford and the stalemates with LA Galaxy and Liverpool.
Yes, Spurs succumbed to defeat against Valencia, a game that would never be a walkover. It was a test against a team that will be participating in next season’s Champions League. A trial against a side consisting of the likes of Roberto Soldado, Sergio Canales and Ever Banega; three players that could walk into a number of starting XI’s around the world.
You only have to look back to 2008 to understand the meaninglessness of pre-season encounters. Spurs hosted Serie A outfit AS Roma at White Hart Lane ahead of a season that promised so much, but ultimately failed to deliver. The North London side beat their Italian counterparts 5-0 that afternoon prior to the beginning of that campaign and what followed suit? Spurs suffered the worst start to a domestic campaign in their illustrious history.
That was the season that Spurs were supposedly set to overtake rivals Arsenal in the Premier League. Let us fast-forward 12 months to the Wembley Cup and to be specific; the game against Celtic. I remember that day vividly as we lost 2-0. I have to admit; I over-reacted massively after that encounter.
I feared the worst for the upcoming campaign. Spurs looked lacklustre that afternoon at the English home of football and I was, regrettably, talking about a possible return for Sol Campbell *shudders*. What happened that year? Harry Redknapp guided the club to fourth, Spurs’ highest ever Premier League finish, and secured a spot in the Champions League.
It is important not to over-react as a result. Pre-season friendlies are, as mentioned, a time for experimentation and fitness, as many a Football Manager gamer will testify. Yes, changes are needed. A striker needs to be bought and the Luka Modric saga needs to come to an end. But please, for all that is holy, don’t look into the encounter with any real premonitions into the upcoming season. There is still over a week before the beginning of the season and I believe it could be a busy one for Spurs.
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