COMMENTARY | Tottenham Hotspur entered May knowing that they likely would have to go 4-0 in order to earn Champions League football. Any slip-ups, even when away to the defending European champs, would put Arsenal in the driver's seat in the race for a fourth place finish. Spurs showed plenty of heart in their rally back at Stamford Bridge on May 8, but it was that 2-2 draw with Chelsea that ultimately relegated Tottenham back to Europa League play. Had you told me last August that Spurs would end the campaign with a 3-0-1 May record and on 72 total points, I would have taken it in an instant;
and it would have been the wrong thing to do.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur May review: Player of the Month
Somewhat lost in the greatness that was Gareth Bale was how important of a role Emmanuel Adebayor played in Spurs even having a shot at Champions League on the final day. Invisible for much of the campaign, the Togo international found new life when manager Andre Villas-Boas needed him most. Adebayor was responsible for both of Tottenham's tallies against Chelsea, he scored the game-winner against Stoke City, and he was arguably the team's best attacking player in what was largely a lackluster 1-0 victory over Sunderland.
72 points not being enough for Champions League is a thought that wouldn't have entered my mind last summer. It's for that reason that I haven't gone back to review where Tottenham could and probably should have picked up just one more favorable result. Still, watching Adebayor's May performances left me wondering what could have been had Ade been that Ade all season.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur May review: Missing piece
Spurs managed to go 3-0-1 in May, but they were far from flawless during that run. A popular opinion among the Tottenham fan base is that the club's first move once the transfer window opens must be to acquire a quality striker, one who will feature over the previously mentioned Adebayor and Jermain Defoe. While that is undeniably a need for Spurs, their complete lack of creativity in the midfield over their last four games was perhaps the squad's biggest flaw (minus the defensive meltdowns against Chelsea and Stoke, that is).
What I was reminded of, other than that Tottenham may actually be cursed when it comes to their pursuit of a return to Champions League, is that it's very difficult for a team to compete with the best of the best in any top-flight league without having a true play-maker in the middle. It was always going to be impossible to replace Luka Modric. That Spurs didn't make a real attempt to do so and instead hoped that the likes of Sandro, Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone would be good enough cost them in multiple games throughout the season. It's a mistake the team cannot repeat this summer.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur May review: Fitting end
Tottenham's 2012-13 campaign absolutely had to end with Bale cutting to his left, beating his man and burying an outside-the-box rocket that no 'keeper in the world could have stopped. The undisputed Player of the Year (when it comes to winning awards that matter) saved Spurs at the beginning and end of May, all while playing on an ankle that probably won't be 100 percent until he gets to rest it for more than a few days. The Welsh wonder who will turn 24-years old this summer finished the season with 24 goals and eight assists across all competitions.
Now, Spurs have to decide just how much Bale is worth.
No player is "priceless," not even a Messi or a Ronaldo. Professional football is a business above everything else, and Tottenham making the right business decision regarding Bale is key for the club's growth next season and beyond. Would it be great if Bale stayed for at least one more year and helped propel Spurs back into the Champions League? Of course. Would Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy be crazy to turn down an offer of around £70m for his star player? Of course. As long as the club's best interests are Levy's top priority, I will find it hard to be overly upset with how this situation comes to an end.
If Bale really is set to leave White Hart Lane, he gave us all one heckuva goodbye.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- Gareth Bale
- Emmanuel Adebayor