The North Londoners think they can gatecrash the top-four party. Can they?
All about Gareth Bale last season for Spurs, wasn’t it? It most certainly was. The rocket-booted Welshman was their dynamo, leaving scorchmarks on pitches up and down the land and scoring 21 league goals on the way to bagging the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young player of the Year awards.
So where did his heroics get Spurs? To fifth place – which was actually one place lower than the previous season, even though they accumulated more points than ever before in a Premier League season (72). They were battling sworn enemies Arsenal for fourth place, but the Gunners held them off.
No Champions League football, then – does that mean that Bale will sprint away from the Lane? It’s been the will-he-won’t-he saga of the summer as the rumour mill churned out Bale transfer stories all summer, with Real Madrid in hot pursuit. But as it stands Andre Villas-Boas can still select him as a Spurs player.
Ah yes, AVB. How old is he these days? He’s ripened to all of 35. Most footballers are still playing at that age, but then Villas-Boas hasn’t followed the usual route through the playing ranks into management. He got his first manager’s job when he was 21, so he’s got more coaching miles on the clock than you might think. This is his second season in charge of Spurs.
So it looks like he’s hung on to Bale. Has he added much else to the squad? He has, in the shape of Brazilian midfielder Paulinho, bought from Corinthians for a reported £17m. He’s a full Brazil international – you may have seen him netting a couple of goals in the Confederations Cup in the summer. Roberto Saldado arrived from Valencia and he scored 24 goals in 33 appearances for Los Che last term. Nacer Chadli (FC Twente) and Etienne Capoue (Toulouse) have also come in.