From being embarrassed by ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry to beating Man City twice and Eric Dier jumping seats to confront a fan… and a worse win record than Wembley! Tottenham’s first year in their £1bn new stadium has been full of ups, downs and drama
- Tottenham opened their new stadium with a 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace
- Since then, a pair of victories against Manchester City have been the highlight
- Spurs were on the end of a humiliating defeat against Bayern Munich in October
- Jose Mourinho soon replaced Mauricio Pochettino as manager one month later
- Tottenham’s win ratio at the stadium is worse than when they played at Wembley
A starlit grand inception to a senior first-team player confronting a home supporter on the terraces. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has had quite the opening salvo.
Eight months later than scheduled, the hyper-modern 62-000 capacity venue opened its doors on April 3 2019, as the first-team played Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
Ever since, it has showcased drama, delight and despondency in equal measure. Indicative, in many ways, of Spurs’ muddled year, stretching from the near-glory in Europe to the farcical Eric Dier episode one month ago.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has lit up many evenings in its first year of action
The last act in the opening 365 days was Eric Dier entering the stands to confront a supporter
What sticks out most in your mind? Is it the pair of victories over Manchester City against the run of play? Perhaps it’s the triumvirate of footballing lessons from messers Ajax, Bayern and RB Leipzig. Or, more generally, is it one promising performance being sharply followed by an underwhelming display? The power of momentum has been tough to come by.
Yet it all started so rosy. A dogged 2-0 victory against Palace on opening night was followed by a one-goal win against City in the Champions League. Hugo Lloris saved a penalty from Sergio Aguero and Heung-min Son scored his second in as many games.
That’s the thing with opening a ground in April. Those initial impressions that mean so much, rely heavily on the outcome on the pitch in games which are making or breaking a season. But hopes were high: supporters were optimistic that this was the start of a new dawn.
Heung-min Son celebrates after scoring against Manchester City in the Champions League
Then-Spurs gaffer Mauricio Pochettino led the club to the Champions League final last season
- Apr 3: W 2-0 vs Crystal Palace
- Apr 9: W 1-0 vs Man City (UCL)
- Apr 13: W 4-0 vs Huddersfield
- Apr 23: W 1-0 vs Brighton
- Apr 27: L 1-0 vs West Ham
- Apr 30: L 1-0 vs Ajax (UCL)
- May 12: D 2-2 vs Everton
Wins: 4 Draws: 1 Losses: 2
- Aug 10: W 3-1 vs Aston Villa
- Aug 25: L 1-0 vs Newcastle
- Sep 14: W 4-0 vs Crystal Palace
- Sep 28: W 2-1 vs Southampton
- Oct 1: L 7-2 vs Bayern Munich (UCL)
- Oct 19: D 1-1 vs Watford
- Oct 22: W 5-0 vs Red Star Belgrade (UCL)
- Nov 9: D 1-1 vs Sheffield United
- Nov 26: W 4-2 vs Olympiacos (UCL)
- Nov 30: W 3-2 vs Bournemouth
- Dec 7: W 5-0 vs Burnley
- Dec 22: L 2-0 vs Chelsea
- Dec 26: W 2-1 vs Brighton
- Jan 11: L 1-0 vs Liverpool
- Jan 14: W 2-1 vs Middlesbrough (FAC3R)
- Jan 22: W 2-1 vs Norwich
- Feb 2: W 2-0 vs Man City
- Feb 5: W 3-2 vs Southampton (FAC4R)
- Feb 19: L 1-0 vs RB Leipzig (UCL)
- Mar 1: L 3-2 vs Wolves
- Mar 4: D 1-1 vs Norwich (lost 3-2 on pens, FAC5R)
Wins: 12 Draws: 3 Losses: 6
TOTAL – Wins: 16 Draws: 4 Losses: 8
And in many ways, it was. Despite losing to Ajax at home, Mauricio Pochettino’s side unbelievably progressed to the Champions League final after the miracle in Amsterdam.
All that thrill despite a befuddling run of form, in which they despairingly lost to rivals West Ham in their first-stadium defeat and drew 2-2 against Everton on the final day.
Disappointment was to follow three weeks later against Liverpool in Madrid, but onto 2019-20. As opposed to summers of inactivity in years gone by, the acquisitions of Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso were exciting if not convincing.
An opening-day late late show against Aston Villa, with Harry Kane scoring his first goals at the stadium, set alight the ground’s deafening acoustics yet in a pattern which emerged constantly throughout the season: the players couldn’t maintain the feel-good factor at home.
August 25 was a shock to the system: a defeat to Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, with Joelinton scoring the only goal. The Magpies’ No 9 has not scored a Premier League goal since.
Moments of a more chastening nature were to come though, the most severe undoubtedly a 7-2 European battering against Bayern Munich.
The Champions League can be a cruel competition when a team is not at the races and Spurs certainly weren’t on this night. What’s more, they were outplayed in the second-half and given a lesson in clinical finishing from Serge Gnabry.
That’s right, Serge Gnabry. The ex-Arsenal winger who Tony Pulis once described as not at the required level to play for West Brom.
Yet in 35 minutes, he’d scored four and six months on, he rather embarrassingly sits fifth in the stadium’s goalscoring charts. ‘North London is RED’ read his Twitter post after the game, rubbing salt in the wounds.
Bayern Munich and ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry scored four goals in 35 minutes
The leaderboard for goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which features Bayern’s Gnabry
Short of confidence, off the pace and a world away from Champions League finalists. Despite his heroics at the back end of 2018-19 and progressing the team from top-four regulars to trophy contenders, the end was surprisingly sudden for Pochettino
The NFL double-header in mid-October had come and gone and by the November international break, he was relieved of his duties. His final act in the stadium was a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United in which, frankly, a point was the least the visitors deserved.
The announcement had barely registered with the fanbase before the next morning, his replacement was announced: the mercurial Jose Mourinho.
A change in philosophy and a reversal of results was the first port of call. Or so it was meant to be, given the nine major trophies the Portuguese has won in two stints at Chelsea and at Manchester United. For all his fine work, Pochettino left the club empty-handed after five-and-a-half years.
Yet since Mourinho’s appointment, Spurs have flattered to deceive. Twists of fate have been cruel, such as the injury firstly to Harry Kane on New Year’s Day and then the broken arm of Heung-min Son leaving the manager not just short up front, but essentially out of options.
Harry Kane, who scored twice on the opening day, has been a huge miss so far in 2020
Spurs manager Jose Mourinho consoles Heung-min Son after his red card against Chelsea
Their stadium is far from a fortress; in fact, away sides seemingly thrive in the new setting. The student beat his teacher three days before Christmas, when Frank Lampard’s Chelsea won 2-0 on a disheartening afternoon for Spurs.
This year, the trio of Liverpool, Wolves and RB Leipzig have all been deserved winners. A victory against City against the run of play on February 2 was a rare highlight in an abject coupe of months.
But above all else, before the season was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak, the final act in the 365-day rollercoaster will live long in the memory.
Soon after exiting the FA Cup on penalties to Norwich, five-year stalwart of the club Dier clambered over dozens of rows to confront a supporter in the stands, who had become embroiled in a row with his brother.
Videos and photos were soon all over the internet. This was certainly not what Daniel Levy had in mind when he ploughed £1billion into this ambitious project. Mayhem at the Lane.
All in all, a tricky first year to say the least. A year in which, worryingly, their win percentage was worse than during 51 games at Wembley: 57 per cent compared to 70 per cent.
The main profiteers? Probably Amazon Prime. Their fly-on-the-wall docuseries, where filming is continuing amid the current suspension, already has a handful of gripping story lines the sort of which producers couldn’t possibly have envisaged.
There’s no excuses for the players though. With a 17,500-capacity South Stand wall behind them, the architectural brilliance has wowed all those within and looking from afar. It is a booming sound and a privileged environment to play football week in, week out. A masterpiece of a stadium.
But a change in manager, club disharmony and poor results clearly highlights that there’s plenty of work to do on the pitch to match the ambition off it.
Definitely not now mind, when the stadium is being offered to the NHS and in a week where there are more pressing headlines and problems to contend with at the club.
For now though, Tottenham have their world-class arena. In due course, it’ll be time for their world-class coach to galvanise a squad which needs to rediscover its world-class potential, once football returns further down the road.
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article