Soccer-Tottenham's woes laid bare in Liverpool humiliation


Dec 16 (Reuters) - A revamped Tottenham Hotspur was always going to take time to gel but in wake of Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat by Liverpool it is clear the scale of the task is larger than anyone expected.

Following the sale of attacker Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record 100 million euros ($137.30 million), the signings of Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue was supposed reduce the reliance on one standout player and strengthen all areas of the squad.

Instead, the team has looked unbalanced, with a strong defensive start to the season blown away by a 3-0 loss to West Ham United, 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City and now the defeat to Liverpool, the club's worst home loss in 16 years.

Bringing in more new faces in January is unlikely to be the answer, but it is clear something needs fixing given the season is approaching its halfway point.

Injuries have forced midfielder Capoue to deputise at centre back in recent matches, while the decision to loan Benoit Assou-Ekotto to Queens Park Rangers has backfired given Danny Rose's injury woes and Kyle Naughton's struggles in the left-back position.

Striker Soldado, who cost 26 million pounds ($42.32 million)from Valencia, has been isolated up front despite scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 Europa League win over Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday, indicative of an laboured attack that has scored 15 goals in 16 league matches, a far cry from the entertaining style demanded by fans.

Lamela has so far failed to adapt to life in the Premier League, while Chadli, Capoue and Eriksen have all suffered injury setbacks.

Spurs sit seventh, eight points behind bitter rivals and Premier League leaders Arsenal and five-points off fourth-placed Manchester City, but were blown away by Liverpool, supposedly one of their rivals for a top four spot.

Tottenham were not helped by the second half sending off of Paulinho, who was given his marching orders for kicking the rampant Luis Suarez in the chest, but at that stage they were already 2-0 down and offering little by way of attacking threat.

By the final whistle, they had failed to muster a single shot on target.

"We had worked hard to build a strong team and we are happy with the signings," Villas-Boas told reporters after the match.

"The players we have are top quality and we have to work hard to bond them together. We have been extremely unfortunate with injuries."

Spurs cruised through the group stage of the Europa League and meet West Ham in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, but the club craves Premier League success and a return to the Champions League after making run to the final eight in 2010-11.

Villas-Boas has vowed to remain, but will have plenty of explaining to do when he meets notoriously hard-nosed chairman Daniel Levy at the club's Enfield training ground.

The manager insists his side still has the ability to reach the top four and a coveted spot in Europe's top competition, but whether the Portuguese 36-year-old, who lost his job with Chelsea after less than a year in charge, is the man to do so remains to be seen.

"It's not my call. I can't control that. I have to get down to work. That's the only thing I can focus on. The call on that decision is not mine. I won't resign and I'm not a quitter. The only thing I can do is work hard with the players and try and get the results back on track."

($1 = 0.6143 British pounds)

($1 = 0.7283 euros) (Reporting by Josh Reich, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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