COMMENTARY | It just wouldn't be Tottenham Hotspur if it wasn't anything but excruciating up to the bitter end.
Spurs went through what has become a typical April for a franchise that seems to pick up some sort of illness whenever springtime arises. They were unceremoniously and painfully booted from Europa League play, three of their key players picked up injuries that ultimately resulted in Tottenham dropping key points, and Spurs would once again be out of the Champions League if the season ended today. Granted, it's not all bad news for the club heading into the final four matches of the campaign.
Tottenham fans still, however, have numerous reasons to fear for and expect the worst.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur April review: POTM
This isn't an easy award to give out considering Tottenham's two top stars, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, missed several games because of injuries, not to mention the fact that Spurs only won a single game out of five across all competitions. It's for those reasons that I went with Tom Huddlestone. Huddlestone impressed manager Andre Villas-Boas in his limited appearances, and the midfielder played a significant role in Tottenham's thrilling 3-1 rally versus Manchester City.
Looking ahead, Huddlestone could prove to be the team's most important man in the middle throughout the next four games. Scott Parker is, minus a rare memorable moment, no longer the player of old after returning from a nagging Achilles problem, and Lennon's fitness remains an issue. As crazy a suggestion as it would have been just a month ago, Huddlestone's play may, when all is said and done, make the difference for Spurs; positively or not.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur April review: Real MVP?
Gareth Bale, the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, will also be named Tottenham's Player of the Year. I have no problem with this, as he has more than earned that honor. When it comes to who is the most "valuable" man in the team, however, I immediately think of what Lennon has meant to Spurs this season.
Look back at the April games in which Lennon could not feature at all or was relegated to being a second half substitute. Spurs had little to no width during those situations, and the team also largely looked flat and somewhat disinterested, even in matches in which they jumped out to early leads (against Everton and Wigan). Some Tottenham supporters believed that the team lost its heart when Ledley King was forced to retire and Rafael van der Vaart returned to Germany. Maybe, just maybe, we were all looking at the wrong people.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur April review: Was it worth it?
This was, regardless of the result, always going to be the question asked whenever Spurs were done playing in Europa League. We now know that the answer, as much as those who spoke about the importance of winning trophies may think otherwise, was unfortunately "no." Tottenham's first April showdown with Basel, a 2-2 draw, cost them Bale, Lennon and Jermain Defoe for multiple games. Following that match, Spurs dropped points at home to Everton. While Bale and Defoe were back in the lineup by the end of the month, Lennon was utilized for roughly 20 minutes in the team's disappointing 2-2 draw with lowly Wigan.
Villas-Boas was brought in to replace the sacked Harry Redknapp last summer with two goals set in front of him: Bring a trophy to White Hart Lane sooner than later, and see that Spurs return to Champions League next season. Villas-Boas gambled on Europa League, and he thus far has failed to see a return on what he put into that competition.
He has four matches to prove that he knew what he was doing all along.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- Champions League
- Gareth Bale
- Aaron Lennon
- Europa League
- Tom Huddlestone