Tottenham must find a ruthlessness that somehow escapes them in Europe
Tottenham’s draw with PSV must have tasted like defeat… to progress in the Champions League they must now find a ruthlessness that has escaped them on the biggest stage for three years
- Tottenham are on the brink of a Champions League exit in the group stage
- They left Eindhoven in low spirits after a draw with PSV which tasted like defeat
- Spurs must now show a ruthlessness they haven’t had for three years in Europe
Another year, further introspection and more lessons to learn for Tottenham in their search for the secret to success in the Champions League.
Mauricio Pochettino was prepared to accept the end was nigh and his players left Eindhoven in low spirits after a draw with PSV which tasted like defeat.
Spurs are not out, but to progress from here they must acquire a ruthlessness which has escaped them for three years in this competition.
There are more lessons for Tottenham in their search for success in the Champions League
Spurs players left Eindhoven in low spirits after a draw with PSV which tasted like defeat
‘It’s a difficult one,’ said Michel Vorm when asked to put his finger on what might make the difference. ‘We always say to each other ‘we need to learn from this, we need to learn from that’.
‘I don’t know if there really is a solution to say “if we do this’ or ‘if we do that” because we played well and we just need to score more goals.
‘We know everyone on the pitch tried to score and do their best. From the bench we said: “Come on boys, we need to score the third”.
‘Everybody knows. Everybody wants to score. I can’t say “this is it” or “this is it”.’
In their only pre-Pochettino campaign in the modern Champions League, Tottenham made it look simple as they reached the last eight before falling to Real Madrid.
With Gareth Bale in full flow they won a tough group containing Inter Milan and knocked out AC Milan in a tight contest which might have gone either way.
Mauricio Pochettino was prepared to accept the end was nigh after poor results so far
In the only pre-Pochettino campaign in the modern Champions League, Tottenham impressed
Last year Spurs dazzled in the group, beat Real and lost a tight last-16 contest against Juventus
Last year, Pochettino’s Spurs produced a similar run. They dazzled in the group, beat Real on a memorable night at Wembley and lost a tight last-16 contest against Juventus which might also have gone either way.
Signs of incremental progress are hard to grasp and measure because an entire campaign can twist on small details.
Things can unravel fast and don’t level out over 38 games because it is cup football.
At least it is until Andrea Agnelli secures his dream of a European league and ensures a rich bounty of TV cash without the risk of human error curtailing interest for another year.
Spurs conceded two goals in three minutes against Juve at Wembley. Mauro Icardi’s spectacular equaliser in the San Siro. A rush of blood – or two – from Hugo Lloris.
Talk will turn to mental strength as it always does – and to maturity and experience because part of the secret formula is surely to recognise the key moment and conquer it.
This isn’t something you can teach or coach with ease.
Chelsea invested millions of pounds and years of emotion before claiming success in the Champions League.
Manchester City are going through a similar process and the competition is getting tougher with Europe’s elite teams wealthier and stronger than ever.
Mauro Icardi’s scored a spectacular equaliser in the San Siro before they netted a late winner
Talk will turn to mental strength but this isn’t something you can teach or coach with ease
Arsenal toiled for two decades without cracking the competition.
There are no guarantees. Then Leicester breeze in like Harry Redknapp’s Spurs, making it look a doddle and great fun, before breezing out again.
‘One season is not another,’ said ‘keeper Vorm, who came on after the Lloris red card. ‘You play different opponents. European football is totally different from the Premier League and we’re still in the process of learning in these kinds of game. It’s harsh though.’
For the time being, Tottenham’s conclusion from the PSV game can be that more ruthlessness is required.
‘We had control,’ said Vorm. ‘We had to kill the game. We had enough possibilities to score a third. But if you don’t… they can come out and with the pace they have you can see what can happen.
‘We had enough possibilities to score a third. We didn’t. We drew. It’s not enough. We drew not because PSV was that good.’
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