Tottenham v Ajax: This is no time for tiredness

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 29 April 2019, 14:28

As the West Ham fans sang in jubilation - Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happening again.

A crucial part of the season and a derby defeat for a sagging Spurs team, spent and exhausted from the pursuit of the glory which seems to always elude them.

In March 2016 it came as Tottenham’s legs and lungs gave out as they stood on the brink of taking top spot in the Premier League whilst battling with Leicester.

May the following year and Manuel Lanzini’s solitary goal crippled Spurs’ title hopes.

After Saturday’s latest embarrassing reverse against The Hammers Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino admitted ‘stress and fatigue’ got to his men.

Understandable as it was their 53rd game of the season after a summer in which Pochettino and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy decided they didn’t need to buy any new players.

Coming up is the 54th and biggest of yet another gruelling campaign which still promises to be the best in history as Tottenham head into uncharted territory in the Champions League semi final.

Let’s hope that those dejected Spurs players who trudged off the field against West Ham are not listening to Pochettino’s reasons for the first defeat at the club’s brand new £1 billion stadium.

Now is not the time to be stressed, fatigued, knackered, tired, exhausted, shattered.

From the slump of a London derby defeat to a showpiece European Cup semi final against a rejuvenated Ajax team, the time for tired is the summer.

The average age of Tottenham’s squad is 25 years and seven months. Liverpool’s is just two months younger.

Eight weeks can’t suddenly make old men of your team and Liverpool are fighting for two trophies compared to Tottenham’s one.

When the new stadium fills to the brim against Ajax on Tuesday, the outpouring of energy should be enough to drive any lingering lead out of Tottenham’s boots.

Knowing that the Premier League is a lost cause would dampen anyone’s ardour, even if top four is a must to guarantee re-entry next season.

Spurs can be allowed one day off even if losing the first match at a showpiece ground is against one of your fiercest local rivals.

But Pochettino has to whip that out of them now. Maybe he should show his squad a re-run of his own celebrations in the dressing room after the surprise knockout of Manchester City in the last round.

 

Watching the Argentine smack the tactics board, make eye-popping gestures while squatting in the middle of the dressing room and shouting the odds is a perfect pick-me-up.

When people talk about this team being a bit ‘Spursy’ they are right. When they are bad they are very bad. Saturday was an example of that.

But Spursy also means when they are good they are easily up there as the most exciting team in this country.

Heung Min Son is considered an equal to Harry Kane in my eyes for the vital goals he scores and the spectacular way he does it.

Christian Eriksen is a lynchpin of a team as valuable as Firmino, Jordan Henderson or James Milner.

If Jan Vertonghen passes a fitness test he will play a key role in every area of the pitch against Ajax.

But tiredness is a state of mind for professional athletes. Pochettino has to remember that while he can use that as an excuse - if anyone actually believes it, creeping weariness could infect his brilliant team and do more damage than any opponent ever could.

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